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The five-domains update

Posted By , , and on September 8, 2021 @ 14:00

Sea state

The fourth AUSINDEX maritime exercise between Australia and India is underway. The four-day training drills are taking place off Darwin for the first time, and aim to boost interoperability between the two navies’ surface units and helicopters. The exercise includes one of the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins-class submarines as well as Royal Australian Air Force P-8A and F/A-18A aircraft. Australia and India also cooperated in last month’s Exercise Malabar alongside the US and Japan. And HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac have embarked on the Australian Defence Force’s flagship Southeast Asian engagement activity, Indo-Pacific Endeavour.

The US Marine Corps expects its ‘ship-killing’ NMESIS naval strike missile system to be operational in 2023, after it successfully completed deployment and firing operations in the imaginatively named Large Scale Exercise 21. The missile system’s unmanned launcher, which is manufactured by Raytheon and fully integrated into existing US Navy control systems, was used to sink a decommissioned frigate from land. The weapon aims to strengthen US area denial by offering additional precision-strike capabilities within its 185-kilometre range.

Flight path

On 27 August, the RAAF completed Exercise Red Flag Alaska 21-3, a two-week bilateral training exercise with the United States Air Force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base. The exercise focused on simulated combat training and strengthening interoperability and involved 1,800 RAAF and USAF personnel and more than 80 fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft. Australian F-35s and EA-18G Growlers were used in the exercise for the first time.

On Sunday, Taiwan’s air force scrambled in response to 19 Chinese People’s Liberation Army aircraft entering the island’s air defence identification zone—the largest incursion since 28 aircraft were reported crossing into the zone in June. Taiwan’s defence ministry reported that the Chinese aircraft included 10 J-16 and four SU-30 fighters, four H-6 bombers and one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft. Taiwanese aircraft issued radio warnings and deployed air defence missile systems to the aircraft as they flew near the disputed, but Taiwanese-controlled, Pratas Islands.

Rapid fire

The Australian Army is set to reform its Special Air Service Regiment. The decision follows the explosive Brereton report that investigated allegations of a series of war crimes committed by Australian forces during the Afghanistan war. Defence Minister Peter Dutton says the SAS will have stricter accountability measures in place to prepare for the demands of missions in the grey zone; however, the plans to implement the changes to the regiment have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ABC reports that an independent review funded by the Defence Department and ​​Israeli firm Elbit Systems has criticised the way the department handled its decision to stop using Elbit’s battle management system. The system, which has cost $2 billion to develop, was removed from Australian Army vehicles over concerns that sensitive data could be accessed via a ‘back door’. Elbit has maintained that its technology is safe for use by the army. Defence has been using an interim solution, but it’s possible it may return to the Israeli technology.

Final frontier

On 2 September, the US Federal Aviation Administration grounded Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo following an incident during the rocket’s July flight with Virgin founder Richard Branson on board. On ascent, the pilots received—and apparently ignored—an ‘entry glide cone warning’ indicating that the rocket had dropped below its designated airspace and that its trajectory was too shallow. The safest response would have been to abort the flight; however, that would have thwarted Branson’s bid to win the ‘billionaire space race’ ahead of Jeff Bezos.

Moscow has warned that the Russian segment of the International Space Station could face ‘irreparable’ failures as it ages well past its 15-year lifespan. Russia has already indicated that it might leave the station in 2025, saying that structural fatigue and system failures would render it inoperable beyond 2030. Cracks in the Zarya module—one of the oldest parts of the space station, launched in 1998—have raised concerns about damage caused by space junk. In 2016, it was widely reported that orbiting flecks of paint had cracked windows in the station’s cupola.

Wired watchtower

Indian Navy officials have ordered the removal of CCTV equipment across all navy bases and units, citing serious privacy and security concerns. Despite being marketed as Indian-made, the CCTV systems are partly owned by Chinese company Hikvision and operated through an Indian corporation. It’s alleged that footage from the surveillance cameras can be used for artificial intelligence applications, such as facial recognition technology, and that data losses can be programmed externally. This move follows India’s banning of 267 Chinese apps last year.

The Chinese Communist Party has introduced a wave of regulations to crack down on and reduce the power of its domestic tech giants. The regulations include strict limits on how many hours children can spend playing online video games, tightened restrictions on social media algorithms and mandatory reporting of security vulnerabilities that tech companies identify. The sweeping reforms are part of a global trend of governments attempting to reign in tech giants’ powers. Some experts contend that attempts to control China’s tech companies have come because the CCP views them as a potential threat to its legitimacy.

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[1] AUSINDEX maritime exercise: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/09/australia-and-india-begin-maritime-exercise-ausindex-21/

[2] off Darwin for the first time: https://twitter.com/Australian_Navy/status/1435014951635017729

[3] interoperability: https://twitter.com/CN_Australia/status/1434811716701884421?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1434811716701884421%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.navalnews.com%2Fnaval-news%2F2021%2F09%2Faustralia-and-india-begin-maritime-exercise-ausindex-21%2F

[4] Exercise Malabar: https://www.naval-technology.com/news/maritime-exercise-malabar-2021-commences/

[5] HMA Ships Canberra and Anzac: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/8647-assault-ship-frigate-set-sail-for-indo-pacific-endeavour

[6] embarked: https://news.defence.gov.au/international/board-aim-building-partnerships

[7] Indo-Pacific Endeavour: https://www1.defence.gov.au/operations/indo-pacific-endeavour

[8] to be operational in 2023: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/09/usmc-ship-killing-nmesis-to-become-operational-in-2023/

[9] Large Scale Exercise 21: https://www.marcorsyscom.marines.mil/News/News-Article-Display/Article/2735502/marine-corps-successfully-demonstrates-nmesis-during-lse-21/

[10] from land: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/42129/watch-the-ex-uss-ingraham-frigate-get-its-back-broken-by-a-torpedo

[11] 185-kilometre range: https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2021/04/here-is-our-first-look-at-the-usmcs-nmesis-nsm-being-launched-from-an-unmanned-jltv/

[12] completed: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/strike-air-combat/8691-raaf-finalises-bilateral-exercise-in-alaska-with-the-usaf

[13] simulated combat training and strengthening interoperability: https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2759839/us-australian-forces-strengthen-coalition-air-dominance-in-red-flag-alaska-21-3/

[14] for the first time: https://news.defence.gov.au/international/raaf-strengthens-ties-us-alaska

[15] scrambled: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-07/chinese-warplanes-enter-taiwanese-air-space/100439132?utm_medium=social&utm_content=sf249241791&utm_campaign=fb_abc_news&utm_source=m.facebook.com&sf249241791=1

[16] in June: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-16/taiwan-china-air-force-fighters-flyby-bombers-/100221170

[17] reported: https://www.mnd.gov.tw/Publish.aspx?SelectStyle=%E5%8D%B3%E6%99%82%E8%BB%8D%E4%BA%8B%E5%8B%95%E6%85%8B&p=79036&title=%E5%9C%8B%E9%98%B2%E6%B6%88%E6%81%AF

[18] disputed: https://thediplomat.com/2020/12/the-pratas-islands-a-new-flashpoint-in-the-south-china-sea/

[19] set: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/defence/sas-brass-elevated-inrank/news-story/4edc1727833cbbf65c7ff22ba105d799

[20] says: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-31/andrew-hastie-sasr-command-and-control-reform/100423034?utm_campaign=news-article-share-next-actions-0&utm_content=twitter&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web

[21] postponed: https://www.theage.com.au/national/the-sas-postpones-its-new-era-as-a-ceremonial-disbanding-is-delayed-20210901-p58nwe.html

[22] reports: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-04/defence-criticised-confidential-report-elbit-military-project/100422476

[23] maintained: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-07/israeli-company-elbit-systems-of-australia-removed-army/100121238

[24] grounded: https://spacenews.com/faa-grounds-spaceshiptwo-after-problem-on-july-flight/

[25] July flight: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-12/richard-branson-virgin-galactic-test-flight-reaches-space/100285398

[26] safest response: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-red-warning-light-on-richard-bransons-space-flight

[27] irreparable: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58408911

[28] widely reported: https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0513/Space-debris-danger-Fast-moving-paint-flake-dings-window-of-space-station

[29] removal of CCTV: https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/09/03/indian-military-under-target-by-chinese-origin-surveillance-systems.html

[30] partly owned: https://theprint.in/opinion/chinas-hikvision-controls-indias-surveillance-market-modi-needs-to-do-more-than-ban-apps/452014/

[31] banning: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/43-new-chinese-apps-banned-267-in-all/articleshow/79397633.cms

[32] introduced: https://time.com/6048539/china-tech-giants-regulations/

[33] hours: https://www.economist.com/business/china-imposes-the-worlds-strictest-limits-on-video-games/21804100

[34] restrictions: https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/8/17/chinas-new-draft-rules-to-further-tighten-control-on-tech-sector

[35] mandatory: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/chinas-vulnerability-disclosure-regulations-put-state-security-first/

[36] trend: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/big-tech-2021-expectations-government-regulation-unionization-user-distrust-2021-3