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The five-domains update

Posted By , , , and on April 21, 2020 @ 13:33

Sea state

Naval Group has reportedly refused requests from an independent senator to access documents that would show if it is honouring the terms of its contract for Australia’s $80 billion submarine fleet. Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick  unsuccessfully sought documents outlining the French company’s progress under Australia’s freedom of information laws. Patrick says the requests were denied due to ‘commercial reasons’. The last of the 12 Attack-class boats isn’t expected to be ready until about 2053.

China’s navy has launched a series of exercises in the South China Sea and East China Sea, capitalising on the diminished US and allied presence in the region. The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group were engaged in a naval exercise in the Miyako Strait and the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan, according to a People’s Liberation Army Navy spokesperson. The Liaoning is currently the only aircraft carrier in the area; two US carriers, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Ronald Reagan, are in port.

Flight path

A 16-year US strategic bomber presence at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam has ended after the USAF withdrew five of its B-52H Stratofortresses from the island. According to US Strategic Command spokesperson Major Kate Atanasoff, the US military has ‘transitioned to an approach that enables strategic bombers to operate forward in the Indo-Pacific region from a broader array of overseas locations’. The bombers were based in Guam to respond to contingencies in the Pacific.

The US State Department has approved a US$675 million foreign military sale to support the South Korean air force’s F-35A aircraft, engines, weapons and related equipment. While the US Department of Defence has said that the proposed sale won’t alter the basic military balance in the region, North Korea has recently launched several cruise missiles in a likely attempt to bolster its striking capabilities against its southern neighbour.

Rapid fire

US lawmakers and military officials have voiced concerns over the Pentagon’s decision to reduce its troop evacuation services in West Africa. US Africa Command said there is enough medevac support in the region, but it’s not the first time the American military’s preparedness in Africa has been questioned. This decision comes after months of speculation about potential US defence cuts or withdrawal of personnel from West Africa, as the terrorism threat grows in the Sahel.

The Australian government has approved the second release by Boeing Defence Australia of the integrated battlefield telecommunications network for the Australian Defence Force. Part of the $700 million Project Currawong, the network will provide the ADF with advanced technology for a digital strategic communications system, improving the set-up time, responsiveness, flexibility and capacity of information exchange.

Final frontier

The US Space Command says Russia has tested a missile capable of destroying satellites in low earth orbit. The direct-ascent anti-satellite missile was identified as a Nudol interceptor in what was the 9th or 10th test of the system since 2014. The test undermines efforts for a treaty to prevent the weaponisation of space. The US, Russia, China and India are the only countries to have demonstrated anti-satellite capabilities so far.

SpaceX and NASA will send two astronauts to the International Space Station on 27 May in the first US launch of its kind since 2011. The astronauts will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which can stay in orbit for at least 210 days. Boeing is also working to launch astronauts but it has suffered several setbacks. If successful, SpaceX will be the first private company to send people to the ISS.

Wired watchtower

MPs are calling for privacy guarantees for the Covid-19 tracing app proposed by the Australian government, echoing calls from cybersecurity experts advocating for transparency and thorough testing to ensure that there are no data vulnerabilities associated with the app. In a move aimed at allaying concerns, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says a privacy impact assessment is underway. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert has given assurances that the government would wipe any stored information once the app is deleted from people’s phones. Public health experts warn that the technology will only be effective in fighting coronavirus if large numbers of Australians sign up for the app and use it properly.

China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has led senior UK Tories to pressure the government to reconsider its decision to allow Huawei to participate in the country’s 5G rollout. While a telecom security bill limiting Huawei’s role in the new network was expected to be put to parliament in the coming months, the tougher stance taken by members of the Conservatives could see the legislation fail and delays in the introduction of the UK’s 5G network.

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[1] refused requests: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-16/french-shipbuilder-blocks-document-release-on-submarine-project/12147012

[2] unsuccessfully: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/defence/australias-hunterclass-frigates-attackclass-submarines-will-be-delivered-on-time/news-story/9ce674784c22047c23ffe1f283fb17e6

[3] ready: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-25/future-submarine-fleet-work-promised-to-australian-contractors/11996640

[4] launched: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/5937-right-on-que-pla-n-conducts-muscle-flexing-exercise-near-taiwan

[5] engaged in a naval exercise: https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/philippine/aircraft-carrier-04132020175623.html

[6] only aircraft carrier: https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/chinas-worrying-military-exercises-near-taiwan/

[7] ended: https://www.airforcemag.com/air-force-ends-continuous-bomber-presence-in-guam/

[8] According to: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/33057/the-continuous-strategic-bomber-presence-mission-to-guam-has-abruptly-ended-after-16-years

[9] approved: https://www.janes.com/article/95495/us-state-department-approves-potential-usd675-million-fms-of-follow-on-support-and-services-for-south-korea-s-f-35-aircraft-fleet

[10] said: https://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales/korea-f-35-follow-support

[11] launched: https://time.com/5820419/north-korea-cruise-missiles/

[12] to reduce: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/world/africa/west-africa-special-operations-medevac.html

[13] not the first time: https://dod.defense.gov/portals/1/features/2018/0418_niger/img/Oct-2017-Niger-Ambush-Summary-of-Investigation.pdf

[14] speculation: https://www.vox.com/2020/2/18/21142207/pentagon-graham-hell-west-africa-troops-esper

[15] grows: https://www.dw.com/en/terrorism-poses-growing-threat-in-africas-sahel-germany-warns/a-51813261

[16] has approved: http://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/currawong-achieves-release-2-milestone?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Defence%20Week%20583&utm_content=Defence%20Week%20583+CID_4ea325466a3bbea79423e66ed442edc5&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Read%20more

[17] Project Currawong: https://www.australiandefence.com.au/business/boeing-defence-australia-commissions-wacol-assembly-and-test-facility

[18] improving: https://adbr.com.au/project-currawong/

[19] tested: https://spacenews.com/u-s-space-command-blasts-russia-for-anti-satellite-missile-test/

[20] identified: https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2020/04/15/russia-conducted-anti-satellite-missile-test-says-us-space-command/

[21] demonstrated: https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/us-space-command-russia-tested-direct-ascent-anti-satellite-weapon/

[22] send: https://twitter.com/JimBridenstine/status/1251178705633841167

[23] 210 days: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/dm2/

[24] several setbacks: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-21/boeing-capsule-launches-to-wrong-orbit-skips-space-station/11820758

[25] calling for: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/mps-refuse-to-download-official-covid-19-app-and-demand-privacy-guarantees-20200418-p54l1k.html

[26] will only be effective: https://www.theage.com.au/business/small-business/government-needs-public-trust-to-make-virus-tracking-app-a-success-20200415-p54jzn.html

[27] allow Huawei: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/johnson-s-huawei-plan-at-risk-as-u-k-set-to-rethink-china-ties

[28] telecom security bill: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-18/huawei-headache-returns-for-britain-s-government-and-carriers