12 Nov 20. Qatar signs up for Leonardo’s IFTS. Qatari pilots will soon be training at Italy’s International Flight Training School (IFTS), following an agreement between the Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, and Italy’s minister of defence Lorenzo Guerini on 11 November.
In a release by the Italian Ministry of Defence, Guerini said, “The partnership between Italy and Qatar in the defence sector is confirmed as having a high strategic value. I am here to renew our commitment to deepen the ongoing collaboration that embraces all sectors.” Part of the two countries’ co-operation agreement would include the training of Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) pilots at the IFTS, which is operated as a joint venture by Leonardo and the Italian Air Force at Lecce-Galatina, and the soon-to-be-opened facility at Decimomannu Air Base in Sardinia. Qatar currently operates the Pilatus PC-21 and PAC Super Mushshak aircraft in the training role. The country has also ordered nine BAE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers. According to Janes World Air Forces, in-country flight training is conducted at Qatar’s Armed Forces Air Academy (also known as the Al Zaeem Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College), established at Al Udeid in 2014. The establishment of the academy is seen as a tangible step towards bringing additional training capacity within Qatar’s borders, rather than the heavy reliance upon foreign states and allies that Qatar has previously required. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Nov 20. USN flexes naval interoperability with major Asia-Pacific partners at ‘Malabar 2020.’ The US Navy (USN) is demonstrating its ability to interoperate multilaterally with its largest Asia-Pacific partners at the 2020 iteration of exercise ‘Malabar’. The drills, which are being hosted by New Delhi in the Bay of Bengal, also involve the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), with the latter featuring in the exercise for the first time since 2007 after accepting an invitation from India.
The iteration’s at-sea activities include a variety of high-end tactical training, including specific interactions that are designed to enhance interoperability between the four services. These include cross-deck helicopter landings, such as those undertaken by an RAN MH-60R helicopter onboard the USN’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).
The Pentagon has continually cited the need to strengthen relationships with US partners, especially in the Western Pacific, to contain China’s ambitions. Speaking to the policy institute RAND in September, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called such relationships a strategic advantage. He noted the Indo-Pacific as the priority US theatre, with the objective being to push back against China.
US Navy officers involved in this year’s Malabar underscored that sentiment. India, Japan, and Australia form the core of our strategic partners across the Indo-Pacific,” Captain Steven DeMoss, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (DESRON 15), said in statement. “It is fitting to see our navies operate in a high-end, tactically relevant exercise like Malabar. It is another opportunity to further strengthen our combined capabilities and enhance our partnerships. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Nov 20. UK Royal Navy concludes first joint exercises with Egypt. The UK Royal Navy and Egyptian Navy concluded their first joint amphibious exercises, dubbed as Maritime & Littoral Training (LRG-X) in the Mediterranean Sea.
The joint naval drills began last week when the British Royal Navy’s flagship HMS ALBION arrived at Alexandria Naval Base along with elements of Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) (LRG-X) during their three-month Mediterranean deployment.
The bilateral amphibious exercises aimed to enhance interoperability and exchange knowledge and expertise to counter common maritime challenges that the two nations’ navies are facing in the Mediterranean region.
While in Alexandria, the Royal Navy exchanged a series of briefings on naval operations and amphibious warfare with their Egyptian counterparts. With strict COVID-19 precautions in place, these preparations also allowed both Navies to develop a fully integrated and complex sea training phase that was supported by warships from the Egyptian Navy, multi-role combat aircrafts from the Egyptian Air Force and a fleet of landing craft from both nations. ALBION also welcomed onboard the UK Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey MP, plus senior members of the Egyptian Naval Forces.
During the sea phase, HMS ALBION and HMS DRAGON were joined by Egyptian Navy’s Amphibious Assault Ship and Mistral-class helicopter carrier ENS ANWAR EL SADAT, the Frigate ENS SHARM EL SHEIKH and the Fast Attack Craft ENS ALI GAD. The training included an Air Defence Exercise and Surface Warfare Exercise to ensure that the UK-Egyptian Navies’ Task Groups can operate together and protect each other in tactical formations.
The exercises also involved special maritime operations with UK specialists working alongside Egyptian Special Naval Forces using the full spectrum of tactical watercraft and developing techniques and tactics. Forces of both nations practiced ship to objective manoeuvre, counter-terrorism assault techniques, battlefield medical training and reconnaissance of beach landing sites. The sea phase culminated in combined amphibious landing exercises across the Egyptian coastline.
British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams, said, “The past few days have witnessed some truly exciting cooperation between the UK and the Egyptian military, focussed on developing and sharing expertise in amphibious operations. These exercises saw the participation of HMS Albion – the Royal Navy’s flagship – as well as other elements of the British armed forces. Together with the recent visit of the UK Minister for the Armed Forces, these joint exercises demonstrate our commitment to work with Egypt in the interests of both countries. Strength, modernity, partnership – this is what the UK armed forces offer. I look forward to more cooperation of this kind in the future.”
For his part, British Defence Attaché Captain Royal Navy Stephen Deacon commented, “The recent bilateral maritime and amphibious exercises were a great success for both nations and provided an important opportunity to enhance interoperability. They reflect the growing strength of UK-Egyptian bilateral defence cooperation and partnership, particularly in the maritime domain. The exercises have also demonstrated the UK’s steadfast commitment to work with Egyptian partners to support regional security and stability within the Eastern Mediterranean.”
The LRG(X) deployment in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and North Africa was formed to work with regional allies and partners in order to test experimental concepts to develop the Future Navy and Future Commando Force. After leaving Egypt, the task group will come under command of NATO for a period of support to Operation SEA GUARDIAN, which delivers Maritime Security activity across the Mediterranean Sea. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 Nov 20. Boeing Secures More Than $800m in Middle East Training and Support Contracts. Boeing [NYSA: BA] today acknowledged three foreign military sales contracts with the U.S. Air Force for training services and support in the Middle East valued at more than $800m.
The first previously unannounced contract was awarded in 2019 and will support the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) with F-15QA program management, maintenance and aircrew training valued at $240m over a five-year contract period.
Boeing also received a separate not-to-exceed $68m contract to provide maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during their pre-delivery training for the F-15QA aircraft, which will commence early next year. The QEAF will send pilots and weapon system operators to the U.S., where the aircrews will learn how to independently operate the F-15QA ahead of receiving their new aircraft. Training will include in-person instruction, simulation events and flying operations and will be held near Boeing’s F-15 production facility in the U.S. through mid-2021.
Following this, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, through 2024.
A third contract awarded in November and valued at more than $500m will provide the QEAF with in-country spares and logistics support once the aircraft are delivered to Qatar.
“The tailored training and sustainment delivered by our team, coupled with Boeing’s platform expertise, allows us to deliver a holistic solution to our Qatari customer so they can optimize the full capability of their fleet with high availability rates,” said Tim Buerk, director of Middle East defense services for Boeing. “We look forward to our continued partnership with Qatar and further supporting their mission readiness needs.”
The F-15QA is an advanced variant of the undefeated F-15 aircraft. The Advanced F-15 features next-generation technologies that offer more speed, range and payload than any other fighter in its class. Boeing will deliver 36 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar starting in 2021.
10 Nov 20. US Navy to contract new multi-engine trainer aircraft in FY 2023. The US Navy (USN) is to award a contract to acquire a new aircraft to train multi-engine students for itself, the US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Coast Guard (USCG) in fiscal year (FY) 2023. Having flown the T-44 Pegasus (pictured) since 1980, the USN is now looking for a new multi-engine trainer to instruct its own student pilots, as well as those of the USMC and USCG. (DVIDS)
A revised request for information (RFI) for the Multi-Engine Training Aircraft (META) requirement, calling for a commercially available aircraft to replace the Beechcraft T-44 Pegasus variant of the King Air 90 that the service has used for the role since 1980, was issued by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 6 November. The new RFI replaces one that was issued in May.
The original solicitation posted on the beta.sam.gov website said, “This Performance Based Specification (PBS) establishes the overall system capabilities, functionality, and equipage for the commercial airplane that is part of the Multi Engine Training System (METS)”. This new RFI now includes a timeline for the planned procurement.
As noted by NAVAIR, a draft request for proposals (RFP) will be issued in the fourth quarter of FY 2021, to be followed by a final RFP in the second quarter of FY 2022 and a contract award in the first quarter of FY 2023.
Both RFIs laid out some required performance parameters for the candidate aircraft, including a cruise speed of no less than 195 kt, a service ceiling of no less than 20,000 ft, and an endurance of no less than 3.5 hours (while performing certain stated flight profiles). Other specifications included passenger seating numbers and baggage carrying loads. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Nov 20. For Canada, multibillion-dollar training program is the FAcT of the matter. The Royal Canadian Air Force plans to combine two training programs under a single, multibillion-dollar project, a move that will lead to incumbent contractors CAE and a consortium led by KF Aerospace facing off against a series of large firms.
The government plans to issue a call for bids from defense companies next year for the Future Aircrew Training program, or FAcT. A draft bid package is expected to be released by the end of the year so prequalified firms can provide feedback to the Canadian Armed Forces.
The contract is estimated to be worth at least CA$5bn (U.S. $3.75bn) and will provide training for Air Force pilots and crew for 20 years. Canada plans to award the contract in 2023.
The government has already approved a list of firms that will be authorized to bid on FAcT, including Babcock Canada, Leonardo Canada, Lockheed Martin Canada and SkyAlyne Canada. SkyAlyne is a partnership between major Canadian defense firms CAE and KF Aerospace. Those two companies currently provide the two main aircrew training programs to the Air Force.
Under FAcT, the number of pilots trained annually will slightly increase. The pilot production numbers for FAcT are expected to range from about 105 to a maximum of 120. In addition, air combat systems officers and airborne electronic sensor operators will also be trained under the program. Currently, that training is done in-house by the service.
“We’re very focused on getting this to contract,” Air Force Col. Pete Saunders, director of air simulation and training, said of FAcT. “In the end, the foundation of the Air Force is our ability to generate qualified aviators. That is what FAcT is all about.”
FAcT will combine two existing training programs. The first, NATO Flying Training in Canada, is provided by CAE’s military aviation training division, which operates out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The program offers undergraduate and postgraduate pilot training in military-controlled airspace using training aircraft with advanced glass cockpits. That contact ends in 2023.
The second program is the Contracted Flying Training and Support, which is run by a KF Aerospace-led consortium. Training is conducted out of the Southport Aerospace Centre near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The program “oversees the flying training and support services contract for the Primary and Basic Flying Training, Multi-Engine and Helicopter pilot training programs,” according to the government. That contract ends in 2027.
Training for Royal Canadian Air Force pilots involves various fixed-wing aircraft — including the Grob 120A, CT-156 Harvard II, CT-155 Hawk and King Air C90 — as well as Bell 206 and 412 helicopters. Air combat systems officers and airborne electronic sensor operators are trained on CT-142 Dash-8 planes. Simulation is also extensively used in aircrew training.
Saunders said the Air Force is being as flexible as possible to allow industry competitors to come up with what they believe will be the best solution for the service’s training needs.
“The way we’re approaching this is that it is up to them to determine what training aids are required,” he explained. “They will determine what is the appropriate mix of simulation and live fly. They will look at the number and type of aircraft they require in order to meet their training solution.”
However, officials are leaving no room for flexibility in the training’s outcome. “What we are being prescriptive about is the standard that a graduate has to achieve,” Saunders said.
The service has cooperated with the qualified bidders, consulting with them on components of what will be in the FAcT bid package — essentially the request for proposals. Saunders said he hopes to release the RFP by mid-2021.
Apart from providing training and maintenance, the winning bidder must revitalize the aging training infrastructure, he added. The Air Force expects the construction of a new training center for air combat systems officers and airborne electronic sensor operators, as the current facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is quite old. Other new infrastructure, such as hangars, will also likely be built.
Officials are requiring the winning supplier to invest in Canada equal to the value of the contract, but the government is also focused on a winning bid that emphasizes domestic firms playing a major role in training, simulation and in-service support.
The government also has an ongoing competition for the acquisition of a new fighter jet to replace the Air Force’s fleet of CF-18 aircraft. Canada isn’t expected to announce the winning bid until at least 2022, with deliveries of aircraft scheduled for 2025.
But Saunders said training for that future aircraft will be separate from FAcT, as the requirements are set by a different Air Force program office. (Source: Defense News)
20 Oct 20. Electronic warfare course held at new Sintra training centre. EDA’s 4th Electronic Warfare course (5-16 October) involving more than a dozen participants from Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Ukraine has just been completed at Sintra Air Base, Portugal. It was the first helicopter course held in the Agency’s new training facility set up over the past four months at Sintra Air Base which will also host the future Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) by mid-2023.
The Electronic Warfare course, which is part of EDA’s wide-ranging helicopter training activities, allowed participants to deepen their knowledge and expertise about Electronic Warfare and its application in the current operational theatres. From threat briefings to mathematics classes, an array of topics was touched upon with the goal to increase the know-how of the students who also had the opportunity to share experiences among them despite the strict precautionary Covid-19 measures put in place by the Portuguese Air Force and the country’s health authorities.
Sintra ready for high-quality training
After months of intense preparations, the Sintra training centre meets all necessary conditions for delivering high-quality training for the EDA Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) and the Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC) programmes. The centre includes a large office and classroom building and a hangar built to accommodate an advanced helicopter mission simulator. The state-of-the-art simulator is composed of two full cockpits and rear cabins allowing to provide training to all the crewmembers, both pilots and rear crews. Based on the very latest simulation technology, the training device has VBS4 software integrated in a world data base, a very realistic flight model and a complete EW Defence Suite, all of which will allow crews to improve and extend their tactical skills and knowledge in any type of physical or tactical environment.
The new training facilities will ensure the continuity of the current EDA programmes until mid-2023 when they will be fully handed over to the Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC), also to be based at Sintra Air Base, which will take over the management of the three EDA helicopter programmes. (Source: EDA)
06 Nov 20. The Royal Air Force concludes its largest exercise in a decade. Exercise Crimson Warrior was the largest and most complex exercise the RAF has run in recent years. The largest military exercise to be run by the Royal Air Force in the UK for many years has finished after three weeks of complex air activities.
The Exercise, called Exercise Crimson Warrior, involved personnel and aircraft from the Royal Air Force as well as the Royal Navy, British Army, United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force. Fast jets, multi-engine aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Air Systems operated from Stations across the country.
Exercise Crimson Warrior is a development of the regular Cobra Warrior exercises with the addition of missions to support the work up of F-35B Lightnings and helicopters that will form the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing during next year’s operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Incorporating large scale tactical training, the Exercise began on 19th October and involved over 70 aircraft completing a range of missions. The Exercise also marked the end of the long and demanding Qualified Weapons Instructor Courses (QWIC), which train selected personnel to be expert practitioners in their individual warfare speciality or aircraft.
The Typhoon is known as a swing role aircraft; this means pilots must be ready to switch from the air-to-air role to the air-to-ground role during a mission. As future tactics instructors the QWIC students have been tested in both roles in the same mission, with pilots engaging hostile aircraft as they approached their target area; then defending against enemy surface-to-air missiles as they located and attacked the land targets.
“Exercise Crimson Warrior is the UK’s premier live airborne tactical training event of the year and the directing staff from the Air & Space Warfare Centre’s 92 Squadron have taken great pride in delivering this extremely demanding and complex exercise. All the participants have gained valuable experience in the integration of Air and Space power roles. The QWIC students, who have met the exacting standards required during Exercise Crimson Warrior, have proved themselves in the most challenging of environments and are now qualified to join the ranks of the UK Services’ most able tactical leaders and instructors.” Group Captain Rob Barrett, Exercise Director
The inclusion of the F-35B into Exercise Crimson Warrior challenged and tested the UK Lightning Force and their USMC counterparts in a complex air environment, exploiting the capabilities of the advanced 5th generation aircraft.
“The last few months have seen a period of intensive training for the Squadron having conducted Group Exercise and Exercise Joint Warrior from HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside our USMC and NATO partners.
“To have our colleagues from 211 Squadron USMC embedded with us at RAF Marham has been fantastic and has really enhanced our relationship with them as we put the skills and qualifications that we have gained to the test on Exercise Crimson Warrior, to show that we are ready to deploy on Carrier Strike Group 21 next year.”
Commander Mark Sparrow (Royal Navy)Officer Commanding 617 Squadron.
Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Freshour, the Commanding Officer of VMFA-211 USMC said: “Exercise Crimson Warrior is the last phase of VMFA-211’s training in the UK, having validated our interoperability with 617 Squadron aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. I couldn’t be prouder of how the Marines and Sailors of the Wake Island Avengers have performed over the past few months and the successes we have had would not be possible without their incredible effort.”
United States Marine Corps F-35B Lightning aircraft and crews took part in Exercise Crimson Warrior.
In addition to the fast jets, the Exercise incorporated a huge number or aircraft conducting Qualified Multi-engine Tactics Instructors, QWI Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Qualified Space Instructors Courses. Flying out of RAF Brize Norton, Voyager aircraft conducted routine Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) sorties extending the reach of each mission and providing a vital battle planning consideration.
RAF Voyager aircraft provided Air-to-Air Refuelling during the exercise.
During AAR, fuel is taken from the aircraft’s standard wing and fuselage tanks. The Voyager has the ability to operate a ‘towline’, where they orbit in a prescribed “safe” area waiting out of range of enemy aircraft for “receivers”, or in a ‘trail’, where it flies with a number of fast jets, refuelling them over long ranges while taking responsibility for the formation’s fuel and navigation.
A key part of Exercise Crimson Warrior was to test Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR). Throughout the Exercise RAF Regiment Gunners from 3 Force Protection Wing and 15 Squadron RAF Regiment as part of the Ground Extraction Force (GEF) have trained teams, practicing their skills in Joint Personnel Recovery, working alongside the Chinook Force to react to both deliberate and dynamic “downed aircrew” scenarios. The RAF Regiment was tested against the 5 phases of JPR (Report, Locate, Support, Recover and Re-integrate) whilst being fully integrated into the complex Air / Land environment, including Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and small Unmanned Air Systems to achieve their mission.
The RAF Regiment small Unmanned Air Systems during the exercise.
The Officer-in-Command of the of the GEFs, Flying Officer Scott Harrison said: “Exercise Crimson Warrior has been a fantastic opportunity to utilise the full spectrum of RAF and Defence assets associated with Personnel Recovery in an environment which we could not hope to replicate at the Wing / Squadron level. Further afield, the skills and lessons learnt during this package stand 15 Squadron RAF Regiment in excellent stead as it works towards GEF validation in April 2021.”
As well as supporting JPR serials, Joint Helicopter Command provided a formidable rotary package to the Exercise, combining both land and maritime training scenarios. The congested air picture tested training tactics and procedures of its aircrew across the third week of Exercise Crimson Warrior where a combination of Royal Navy Wildcat and Merlin were joined by RAF Chinook and Puma at RAF Leeming in the first wave of close cooperation. (Source: Warfare.Today/RAF)
06 Nov 20. More funding endorsed for Evader aerial target missile system. Additional funding has been endorsed, although not yet approved, to confirm the supersonic performance of the Australian-developed Evader autonomous aerial target missile system, sources close to the programme have disclosed. An application for a grant of AUD2.85m (USD2.02m) from the government’s Defence Innovation Hub has been endorsed by both the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Australian Army to fund a second series of flight trials for the low-cost, air-launched system, said the sources. A decision is expected shortly. Initial flight trials, funded by the Innovation Hub and carried out in 2018 at South Australia’s Woomera range, validated the Evader’s design, autonomous control system and stainless steel ramjet, and proved the parachute-recoverable, 4.2 m-long target missile could be re-used up to 10 times. Endurance of the 90 kg missile is about 30 minutes. While the initial trials were subsonic, the second series of trials will be low-supersonic following relocation of the variable air intake from the top to the bottom of the missile’s fuselage. Speeds of up to Mach 2 are anticipated in subsequent trials, with future variants intended to reach Mach 3. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Nov 20. Thai Army acquires UAV training system from China, expands local training. The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has awarded Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developer Beihang UAS Technology Company a contract worth approximately 95.5m baht to deliver a UAV flight simulator to the service’s Artillery Division, local media reported. The Beijing-based Beihang UAS is also understood to be collaborating with the Thai defence ministry’s Defence Technology Institute (DTI) to develop a tactical-class UAV for RTA use, which could eventually be used to replace the ageing IAI Searcher MkII UAVs used by artillery units for target acquisition and damage assessment
Having gained success in the domestic Chinese market with its medium-altitude long endurance BZK-005 UAV which is in general use among the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air, land, and sea services for long-range reconnaissance and electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic warfare (EW) missions, the company has developed export-oriented UAVs based on a comparable design, such as the BZK-005E and TYW-1 for the international market.
A model of the proposed UAV was also shown at several events, consistently depicting a twin-boom airframe with the engine positioned in the rear in a pusher-propulsion configuration, slightly swept-back wings, and a chin-mounted electro-optical sensor turret.
In November 2018, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with DTI, for co-operation in areas such UAV research and development, production, and flight training.
Representing DTI at the signing ceremony was General Maneerin, Chairman of DTI Board of Directors, Preecha Pradabmook, General Manager of DTI, Fu Junhui, General Manager of Beihang UAS, and Xiao Jiangyang, Deputy General Manager of Beihang UAS.
“After nearly 50 years of development, China’s UAV system has achieved significant results,” the company stated. “The military and civilian consumer-grade UAV systems are among the world’s advanced levels, and the application of civilian professional- grade systems has also [advanced greatly].”
DTI has also established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Centre (DTI-UTC) to meet an expected demand for trained UAV operators across the government and public domains. The DTI-UTC has been certified by the Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and will deliver instruction for trainees to acquire qualifications including the Remote Pilot Licence (RPL) Instructor Remote Pilot Licence (IRPL). Courses are expected to commence from March 2021. (Source: AMR)
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