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21 Jul 22. Royal Marines complete tough landing craft exercises ahead of Mediterranean operations. Royal Marines have completed preparations for operations across the Mediterranean this autumn after intensive amphibious exercises in the Netherlands.
After three months of intensive work-up in the UK, marines from Plymouth-based 47 Commando headed to the Dutch island of Texel – scene of some of the final fighting in World War 2 – for the culmination of tough operational training.
Around 90 commandos crossed the North Sea with Royal Navy support ship RFA Mounts Bay for training that has been developed over generations, building on a rich history of amphibious warfare.
“They’ve got a huge amount to think about,” said Captain Alec Trigger, landing craft training officer at 47 Commando.
“It’s inherently quite dangerous on the water, so they’re thinking about that aspect but then they’re also thinking about the tactical exercise and the enemy scenario and then supporting the landing forces as best they can.
“The kind of areas that we’ll be landing strike teams are going to be contested. You need a craft operator that can fulfil every role. They are a commando first and a coxswain second. You don’t leave those commando skills behind when you become a landing craftsman.”
The ability to strike at enemy coastlines is fundamental to the Royal Marines and is why a deep knowledge and history of operating is carefully maintained and developed by raiding experts at 47 Commando.
Under the cover of darkness, on daring silent raids, under heavy fire, up craggy cliffs, complex fjords and across undulated beaches, those at the helm of landing and raiding craft have the daring and complicated task of getting fellow commandos ashore no matter the extreme.
Training to qualify as a coxswain of such craft demands dedication and resolve: 42 weeks of training and assessment across three separate 14-week courses to reach the most advanced level.
Most of the training is done around the waters near 47 Commando’s home in Plymouth, honing navigational skills, tactics and the handling of craft of all shapes and sizes – from the tiny Inshore Raiding Craft (IRC) and fast and armed Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) to the larger Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) and Landing Craft Utility (LCU).
The course builds up to a final exercise – billed as ‘a driving test with a difference’ – which puts each student in unfamiliar surroundings with a testing mission to land commandos ashore.
This year, the coxswains embarked in RFA Mounts Bay and sailed for Den Helder in the Netherlands to complete their final intensive exercise to become qualified, on what was aptly named Exercise Green Tulip.
Across five days, the commandos operated around the North Holland port of Den Helder and picturesque Texel Island, a 17 square-mile national park in the north, which is made up of narrow waterways, sand dunes and woodland.
For the coxswains, the waters and beaches of Texel provide a solid challenge in unfamiliar surroundings – the perfect place to put the skills learnt over the last 90-plus days to the test.
Corporal Frank Worth said: “We’re going out to make sure they’ve learnt everything on the course they’ve just attended, make sure they’ve understood orders, make sure they understand how to operate all the different craft, following the process of dropping off troops and understanding the whole amphibious side of things.
“We follow the checklist and make sure they’re covering all the different points on the courses.”
This was also a perfect opportunity to work closely with Mounts Bay, with coxswains perfecting docking their landing craft day and night, craning and launching from the ship – skills that take great team work between sailors and commandos to conduct quickly and safely.
It was ideal preparation for operational deployments later this year as part of the Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group (North), which focuses on the security and prosperity of European waters and is usually made up of amphibious flagship HMS Albion, a Bay-class (Mounts Bay or one of her sisters) and an escort frigate.
Intense planning was completed before carrying out landings across Texel, with strike teams from 40 Commando’s Bravo Company heading ashore and taking out ‘enemy’ positions and carrying out reconnaissance missions.
Texel Island was the setting for what has been called Europe’s last battle of WW2: a mutiny by Georgia volunteers in the German Army was quashed by the Nazis, with hundreds killed on both sides and fighting continuing beyond VE Day on May 8 1945 until Canadian troops arrived to enforce the German surrender on May 20. (Source: Royal Navy)
21 Jul 22. The EU is providing nearly € 100m in funding for a consortium led by Patria to develop future ground combat capabilities. The defence industry consortium led by Patria, FAMOUS (European Future Highly Mobile Augmented Armoured Systems), is making progress within the budget framework of the European Union’s (EU) European Defence Fund (EDF). The European Commission approved the FAMOUS consortium’s proposal on Wednesday, 20th of July 2022 for the second phase of the project. The EU funding for the FAMOUS 2 project is some EUR 95m. Nine countries are participating in the consortium implementing the FAMOUS project. Finland will continue to act as the lead state and Patria as the industrial coordinator. The consortium includes 18 leading European defence companies. The second phase of the project will continue the ongoing FAMOUS 1 research, in which the vehicles and systems concepts are developed. FAMOUS 2 starts from architectural design, followed by the designing, building and ends up testing of prototypes.
The project will harness Patria’s and the consortium’s extensive expertise and experience to develop the technologies and performance of future armoured vehicles to meet the needs of customers in the European Union by improving their ground combat capabilities. Also, the changed security situation in Europe increases the significance of the project. The FAMOUS project supports the European Commission’s goal to enhance the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the EU’s defence industry.
“The FAMOUS 2 project will take a significant step forward when the selected vehicle concept will be concretely designed and manufactured as a prototype, including actual field testing. It is great to see how several European nations and companies in the defence industry are combining their state-of-the-art expertise and know-how to work together to develop ground combat capabilities,” says Jussi Järvinen, Executive Vice President of Patria’s Finland Division.
19 Jul 22. GM Defense, a subsidiary of General Motors, was selected by the U.S. Army to provide a battery electric vehicle for analysis and demonstration. GM Defense will leverage the GMC HUMMER EV, featuring GM’s Ultium Platform, to meet the U.S. Army’s requirement for a light to heavy duty battery electric vehicle to support reduced reliance on fossil fuels both in the operational and garrison environments.
“This award showcases GM Defense’s ability to leverage the best battery electric technology in the commercial marketplace,” said Steve duMont, president of GM Defense. “With access to GM’s advanced technologies, GM Defense is able to provide proven commercial technologies adapted to meet specific defense requirements and the needs of our customers.”
The GMC HUMMER EV Pickup is the world’s first and only all-electric supertruck that features a 24-module, double-stacked Ultium battery pack and zero-tailpipe emissions. The vehicle features 1,000 horsepower, 11,500 lb-ft of wheel torque and is capable of full 350 kilowatt/800-volt DC fast charging, enabling up to nearly 100 miles in 12 minutes. The GMC HUMMER EV Pickup offers 329 miles of combined driving range for Edition 1, with 0-60 mph acceleration times as quick as 3 seconds.
“Leveraging GM’s advanced technology, this demonstration will prove to our U.S. Army customer what an all-electric supertruck can do and how the underlying technology can be leveraged for future defense needs, whether on an installation or in a tactical environment,” continued duMont.
GM Defense is leveraging GM’s $35 bn investment in electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle technology to help lead global defense and government customers’ transition to a more electric, connected and autonomous future. (Source: PR Newswire)
19 Jul 22. Airbus A330 MRTT becomes world’s first tanker certified for automatic air-to-air refuelling operations.
- Launch of “Auto’Mate” demonstrator to pioneer more advanced autonomous capabilities in the future
The Airbus A330 MRTT has become the world’s first tanker to be certified for automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) boom operations in daylight following a successful campaign in collaboration with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
Certified by the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), this capability is part of the new SMART MRTT developed by Airbus. The A3R system requires no additional equipment on the receiver aircraft and is intended to reduce air refuelling operator (ARO) workload, improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) transfer in operational conditions to enable air superiority.
“The certification of the A3R capability is the result of a successful journey that started in 2018 with the world’s first automated contact with a boom system in a joint operation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Since then, we’ve achieved more aeronautical “world firsts” thanks to the support of our customers, especially with the key participation of our partner the RSAF, a launch customer and the first operator to benefit from this game-changing capability. The A330 MRTT continues to increase its technological advantage with superior air refuelling capabilities,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space.
Through the collaboration between Airbus and the RSAF for the development of the SMART MRTT, an RSAF A330 MRTT took part in the development, flight test campaign and certification of the A3R. In addition, enhanced maintenance capabilities have been developed, allowing faster resolution of ground tasks, while providing the means for maximising the efficient use of spare parts.
The road for the evolution of the A330 MRTT does not stop here. Airbus, through its subsidiary Airbus UpNext, has launched Auto’Mate, a demonstrator that will develop, adapt, mature, integrate and evaluate technologies enabling Autonomous Assets Air-to-Air Refuelling (A4R) and Autonomous Formation Flight (AF2) operations. Auto’Mate will focus on automating the receiver aircraft’s tasks, which requires a set of new technologies that are the pillars of the UpNext Auto’Mate demonstrator.
These technological bricks will be tested in flight during 2023 with a final end-to-end demonstration mid-2024, using in both cases an A310 as the Tanker Refuelling Flight Test Bed and DT-25 Target Drones as receiver aircraft. The set of technologies developed in the Airbus Auto’Mate demonstrator will enable a disruptive step forward in the autonomy level of current Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) operations, to reduce crew fatigue and training costs, improve safety and efficiency, and pioneer Unmanned Air-to-Air Refuelling operations (including Unmanned-to-Unmanned AAR operations), a highly demanded capability for future defence scenarios. Auto´Mate is the first UpNext demonstrator to be launched, developed and concluded in Spain.
14 Jul 22. US Army orders additional ‘upgunned’ Strykers, total stands at 269 vehicles. The US Army is providing Oshkosh Defense with USD130 m to outfit an additional 95 Stryker Double-V Hull Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVVA1) with a 30 mm cannon. The company announced the new Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS) order on 13 July and said the service has ordered a total of 269 upgraded vehicles valued at USD356 m. In total, these incremental buys will outfit three Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) and provide the service with 20 vehicles for additional testing, according to Oshkosh Defense. However, this deal could be worth up to USD942 m if the army decides to provide six SBCTs with the upgunned capability. (Source: Janes)
18 Jul 22. Australia approves Bushmaster upgrades. Raytheon Australia has been selected by the Commonwealth government to upgrade the Australian Army’s existing fleet of Thales-built Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles as part of the $75m Land Force Level Electronic Warfare Project. The project, which forms part of Project Land 555 Phase 6, involves integrating the vehicles with electronic warfare (EW) systems, designed to enable monitoring and controlling of the electronic environment while also undermining the electronic systems of adversaries.
Local industry is expected to help supply material, and deliver training and maintenance support, with the project tipped to generate $46 m for Australia’s sovereign defence industrial base. Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy reflected on the capability benefits of the EW system.
“The government is committed t increasing the ADF’s ability to operate and fight in complex electromagnetic environments,” Minister Cnroy sai
“This new capability will give our Land Force a better range of optios to continue to pursue our interests in our region and deter, defeat and deny attacks and threats against Australia.
“The project will complement air and maritime force level electronic warfare systems, further enhancing these capabilities when deployed in combination as a Joint Force.”
The Bushmaster is billed as an 11-tonne, 4×4 protected vehicle with a four-tonne payload, designed to perform across a range of mission profiles.
The platform has a number of variants, which include troop carrier, command, patrol, support, weapons deployment and ambulance functions.
The Bushmasters can reportedly carry 10 personnel, supported by blast and ballistic protection and off-road mobility.
The vehicles are in service with a number of countries on four continents, including Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Ukrainian armed forces have also accepted Bushmasters into service to support their resistance to Russian aggression.
Earlier this month, the Commonwealth government committed $99.5 m in additional military assistance to Ukraine, including the delivery of 20 Bushmaster vehicles.
These were in addition to the vehicles pledged by former prime minister Scott Morrison ahead of the federal election — taking Australia’s total contribution of Bushmasters to 60.
15 Jul 22. Refurbished Mambas en route to light modern brigade.
A shining example of the inherent abilities and capabilities of particularly the SA Army Technical Service Corps (TSC) applying the by-now standard injunction of “making do with what you have” in a cash-strapped national defence force is ongoing repair and refurbishment of 100 Mamba armoured personnel carriers.
The first batch of 60 are good to go and earlier today (Friday, 15 July) departed De Brug bound for the identified light modern brigade headquarters at Wallmannsthal, north of Pretoria.
The four-wheeled vehicle, initially based on a commercial Toyota truck chassis and subsequently the Mercedes-Benz Unimog chassis, was developed as a replacement for the Buffel armoured personnel carrier in the late eighties. The Mamba has gone through various improvements and upgrades with the last to Mark 5 and still in service.
Changes to force structure in the SA Army saw specialist brigades created. One of these is a light modern brigade with a requirement for personnel carriers able to move 10 man sections. This is what the Mamba was designed for and the new need saw a national search by an Army recovery team to find whatever repairable Mambas were deteriorating in military vehicle parks.
The search identified 100 repairable vehicles and all were moved to the SA Army’s De Brug facility housing, among others a mobilisation centre and training area.
The first 60 Mambas are good to go after combined efforts of Army Support Base, Bloemfontein, the local Project Thusano Cuban-staffed workshop and TSC specialists. Vehicles were refurbished under what Army Corporate Communication calls Project Clean-up in an established for purpose forward detachment workshop. The remaining 40 will make the road journey to Wallmannsthal once refurbishment is complete to provide the new brigade with 100 serviceable armoured personnel carriers.
Army Corporate Communication has it the Mambas are prime mission equipment (PME) now forming part of future taskings for the modern brigade.
SSO Army Corporate Communication Colonel Sammy Mosiane asked all vehicles using the N1 between Bloemfontein and Pretoria to “exercise caution and avoid unnecessary interference with the convoy”. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
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Contact: David Parkman