18 Nov 20. IRON WOLF II 20, German And Dutch EFP Armour. German and Dutch armoured units from the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Lithuania are participating in Exercise IRON WOLF II 20.
German and Dutch armoured units from the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Lithuania are participating in Exercise IRON WOLF II 20. Hosted by Lithuania, the exercise certifies the preparedness of the NATO Battlegroup and Lithuanian Army King Mindaugas Hussar Battalion to act together and interoperate with the Mechanised Infantry Brigade IRON WOLF () command and other NATO Allies and partners, and runs from 9 to 22 November 2020. During the exercise, masks are worn by soldiers in close proximity and social distancing is observed between soldiers of different units. This NATO Multimedia footage, captured Monday 16th and released today, includes drone shots of German Leopard II tanks from the 104th Tank Battalion, and Dutch CV90 infantry fighting vehicles from the Royal Netherlands Army operating in the forests around Pabradė Training Area.
Lithuanian MoD Press Release, 18 November 2020: International exercise Iron Wolf 2020 II organised by the Lithuanian Army (LK) Mechanised Infantry Brigade ‘Iron Wolf’ (MPB Geležinis Vilkas) took place November 3-18. The exercise took place at LK General Silvestras Žukauskas training ground and its surroundings.
The exercise is designed to assess the readiness of the NATO Forward Force Combat Group deployed in Rukla (Jonava District) and the King Mindaugas Hussar Battalion deployed in Panevėžys to interact with the MPB Iron Wolf Command Headquarters and other NATO allies and partners. More than 3,500 soldiers from Lithuania and 13 foreign countries took part in the exercise. British Army Wildcat on IRON WOLF II 20 in Lithuania [©Lithuanian MoD] (Source: joint-forces.com)
19 Nov 20. French Navy puts fresh focus on high-intensity combat training. Fresh off a pair of frigate and submarine cruise missile tests, the French Navy is readying for high-intensity conflict by adapting its exercises and training programs, according to Vice Adm. Xavier Baudouard, commander of the surface fleet.
Last week sailors successfully fired a cruise missile against a land target from a FREMM frigate, just a few weeks after the Suffren submarine fired its first naval cruise missile, trouble-free.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Defense News, Baudouard stressed that the French Navy is a combat force and as such not only trains for today’s warfare but is also preparing for tomorrow’s wars.
“So what we’re trying to do is to permanently improve the equation between our training and the reality of the theaters where we might be deployed,” he said. Baudouard explained that naval exercises were constantly adapted to evolving threat scenarios. “When I left my last ship command in summer 2009 to spend 11 years at the naval staff headquarters in Paris, I left a mechanical navy with ships dating back to the 1970s and 80s. And now that I have returned to the fleet it’s become a digital navy with capacities that are way superior to those we had in the past and which are increasingly adapted to the risk of high-intensity conflict,” the admiral remarked.
He said the multimission frigates [FREMM] were “an extraordinary qualitative jump” over their predecessors, notably where anti-submarine warfare is concerned but also thanks to their cruise missiles. The latter give the Navy “a capacity improved tenfold to intervene on land from the sea,” he remarked. He added that “our sailors must be so familiar with the material at their disposal that they could use them blindfolded!”
Baudouard’s principal role is ensure that the surface fleet vessels are prepared and available for both personnel and material. To do so he is concentrating on four major areas. Firstly that Navy personnel should train in a degraded environment “because in a high-intensity conflict the environment will not be the same as the one we’re familiar with in peace-time.” Secondly, to ensure that the modern equipment is properly used “in order to have the tactical and technical superiority” over the enemy.
Thirdly, elaborating fast and innovative tactics with this new equipment “given that one of the tactics of warfare is to know how to surprise your enemy.” And lastly, planning, undertaking and debriefing exercises in different combat domains. These exercises are increasingly accentuating high-intensity conflict “against an enemy which is better prepared than the one we’ve had opposite us over the past decades,” he added.
For example, firing drills are made more difficult by jamming a number of sensors and navigation systems, for example. “Every time we do a difficult firing we learn a bit more about the material we have at our disposal,” Baudouard said.
“What I want from my troops is that they be visionary and creative in order to adapt to the new types of conflict so that they’ll be ready when the moment comes. We work at it every day,” he said.
France has enough ships for its missions, the admiral said, adding that the SLAM/F mine countermeasures program “is one of the most innovative programs the armed forces ministry has seen over the past few years.”
He explained that the idea of using robots deployed from mother-ships was so that the latter could forego the “extremely stringent anti-acoustic, anti-magnetic and anti-electric standards that mine countermeasure ships normally have to have. By keeping the ships out of the minefield these standards don’t have to be so stringent, so it makes it easier.”
The French Navy, in addition to the usual missions of supporting the nuclear deterrence force, protecting the homeland and its overseas territories, deploying the carrier strike group and undertaking mine-hunting missions, is quasi-permanently deployed on three theaters.
For one, sailors support the “Chammal” operation in the eastern Mediterranean, the French portion of the counter-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria. In addition, the service has been involved for decades in operations in the Gulf of Guinea. Finally, the Navy is deployed in a European mission to protect shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz together with Belgian, Danish, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian and Portuguese sailors.
The latter two countries, together with Spain and France, work together in the EUROMARFOR Fleet, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is currently under Baudouard’s command. The fleet is assembled when missions arise, including NATO exercises. (Source: Defense News)
17 Nov 20. Belgian Defence trials DART Basic Trainer. In the course of Belgian Defence’s Military Prospection Phase for basic fight training capability, a delegation of three from the Belgian Air Force and the Directorate of Material Resources visited Diamond’s Headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria from 21-22 October.
The purpose of the visit was to gain a first impression of the DART aircraft, not only in flight, but to explore the possibilities of the ground based training system and the support package that comes with the aircraft.
Colonel Aviator Patrick ‘Goose’ oossens, head of Work Group Future Pilot Training & New Basic Training Aircraft and former head of Training of the Belgian Air Force, made an introductory flight on the DART, together with a Diamond test pilot.
Goossens was positively surprised of how stable and how easy to handle the aircraft was during the flight. During the debriefing the delegation revealed that the DART-550 training system is a candidate for the replacement of the existing fleet of Marchetti SF-260s. Well known in the commercial flight training market, Diamond now also offers a turn-key training system as a one-stop-shop to military training organisations or service providers.
“Belgium is at this stage keen to keep the competition for the new Basic Training Aircraft as open as possible. This visit, the flight and the constructive exchange of information confirmed that the DART-550 earns his place in that competition”, said Colonel Goossens.
“We are pleased that the Belgian Air Force is considering the DART-550 as an option for their new Basic Training Aircraft, which is going to educate future pilots of the Air Force. DART is already considered for many programmes all over the world, which proves…(that it is) is right at the sweet spot of the future basic training requirements for military pilots”, stated Mario Spiegel, sales manager DART. (Source: Armada)
19 Nov 20. Turkey, UK hold joint air defence exercises for first time. The Turkish Ministry of Defence announced on Wednesday that Turkish F-16 Fighting Falcons have participated in joint military exercises with the Eurofighter Typhoon of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The ministry disclosed in a statement that the joint air defence exercises are the first of their kind between the Turkish and British air forces. The statement added that this military training, which was supervised by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), started after the arrival of the British fighter at the third air base in the Konya district in central Turkey. The Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities. (Source: News Now/https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/)
17 Nov 20. Egyptian MiG-29s fly to Sudan for exercise. The Egyptian Air Force (EAF) is holding a joint exercise with Sudan for the first time: a move likely to raise Ethiopian concerns about the growing defence ties between the two countries that feel threatened by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.
The Egyptian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced Exercise ‘Eagles of the Nile 1’ on 14 November, saying it was being held at Marawi in Sudan and would continue until 26 November. It said it would involve joint training in both offensive and defensive operations by multirole aircraft, as well as special forces practising combat search and rescue (CSAR).
The MoD released a video showing MiG-29M2 fighters and an Il-76 transport aircraft arriving at Marawi Airport, which is 1,160 km south of the base known to be used by the EAF’s new MiG-29M/M2s.
Commercial satellite imagery showed eight MiG-29s and a C295 in EAF camouflage at Marawi on 14 November. The Sudanese aircraft at the airport included four FTC-2000 fighters, two Su-25 ground attack aircraft, and an Su-24, as well as five Mi-24 attack helicopters at the airbase at the northern end of the runway.
The Egyptian video showed some of the MiG-29M2s carrying R-77 and R-73 air-to-air missiles as well as three external fuel tanks. One was seen flying with a Kh-31 supersonic air-to-surface missile, although it was unclear if this was filmed during the exercise as some older footage was used in the video. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Nov 20. CPB Contractors secures defence training area development contract. The firm has been tapped for the development of a new $800m defence training area as part of a joint military initiative between Australia and Singapore, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced.
CPB Contractors has secured a $23.5m contract to deliver the first phase of works for a new defence training area near Greenvale in north Queensland. Upon completion of the development phase of the contract, CPB Contractors will then be tasked with developing facilities valued at approximately $800m, with the work expected to commence in mid-2022.
The project forms part of the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI), which aims to deliver advanced military training areas in central and north Queensland that will house training exercises involving the Australian Defence Force and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
The development is expected to generate employment opportunities for the local community, with the workforce projected to peak at 350 workers.
“These advanced training areas being delivered under the ASMTI will benefit the ADF and the [SAF], while enhancing our bilateral relationship and providing significant local economic opportunities for north Queensland,” Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said.
“When this initiative reaches maturity, up to 14,000 SAF personnel will conduct training in central and north Queensland for up to 18 weeks a year for 25 years, which will provide enduring economic benefits to the region.
“This initiative will be key to bolstering growth and supporting local jobs in north Queensland as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price also reflected on the expected benefits of the project for the community, revealing that CPB Contractors has committed to sourcing approximately 90 per cent of work from the north Queensland region surrounding the proposed training area.
“This is a massive investment that will ensure local business can take advantage of the opportunities arising from construction of the new defence training area,” Minister Price said.
“CPB Contractors has also committed to sourcing four per cent of the contracted price from Indigenous enterprises and at least 4 per cent of the full-time work force from Indigenous Australians.”
Herbert MP Phillip Thompson OAM added, “This news comes at such an important time as the local economy continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“CPB Contractors will soon begin engaging with local industry, with initial design for works commencing early next year.
“I encourage local businesses to be ready to benefit from the opportunities this initiative will provide.”
Townsville-based senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said the project is part of the federal government’s broader effort to support local industry.
“This initiative is already delivering significant economic benefits for Queensland through the ASMTI,” Senator McDonald said.
“This will only continue to increase when construction commences in mid-2022.”
The government has invited local businesses to submit proposals for other early works packages to be delivered between 2020 and 2022, which include fencing and signage, contamination remediation, and construction of firebreaks.
Market sounding proposals for the early works packages — valued at between $50,000 to $4m — will be accepted until 31 December 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Nov 20. Royal Navy warship sails into Arctic Circle for High North operation. HMS Lancaster has completed three days of operations in the High North, marking the second time the Royal Navy has sailed into the Arctic Circle in two months. Once again demonstrating the UK’s commitment to the High North after leading a multi-national task group into the region in September, the Royal Navy has sailed above the Scandinavian countries into the North Cape.
By successfully operating in the challenging sub-zero conditions, the warship gained valuable experience of operating in the icy High North environment and further enhanced the UK’s cold weather capability.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said, “The High North and Arctic region is vitally important to our security of the UK, as well as some of our closest Allies in Scandinavia, the Baltic Region and northern Europe. Deployments such as this, as well as our active engagement in the Northern Group and leadership of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), demonstrate to our allies and adversaries alike that the UK will be forward-leaning in supporting the security and stability of the region.”
On approach to the Arctic Circle, Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster took the opportunity to gain valuable training experience alongside the Norwegian Navy – one of the UK’s closest partners in the region. The Norwegian warship HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen joined HMS Lancaster for a passing exercise that allowed both NATO navies to further boost their cooperation capability, following previous shared activity in the region earlier this year.
The operation, entirely conducted in international waters and in a responsible manner, demonstrated the freedom of navigation on the high seas provided by the rules-based international system. This was also the case in September, when Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, supported by RFA Tidespring, commanded a task group comprising Norwegian Frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl and the United States Navy’s destroyer USS Ross.
Norway is a fellow member of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF); the UK-led high-readiness force of northern European nations that is capable of countering hybrid and conventional threats, as well as the Northern Group; a UK initiative formed of 12 nations aimed at providing effective defence and security cooperation in the region.
Through such groups, the UK is committed to working with Allies to upholding the security of the High North and Arctic and recent deployments ensure that our ships and people are ready and able to operate in the region. Changes to the Arctic landscape wrought by declining sea ice levels open up new trade routes and raise the risk of economic competition and states looking to monopolise the region – sharpening the need for the UK’s Armed Forces to remain ready to respond to any potential instability.
17 Nov 20. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced the Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center (B2MTC) that was developed and delivered by Elbit Systems as a winner of the Commander-in-Chief 2020 Innovation Award. As reasons for the award the IDF quoted considerations such as originality, feasibility, scalability and extraordinary contribution for the over-all effectiveness of the IDF. Since entering service with the IDF, the Ground Forces of the IDF diverted all of its field training to the B2MTC which has accumulated to-date many hundreds of operational training hours with thousands of trainees both in service and from the reserves. B2MTC is training center that immerses commanders, headquarters staff and two subordinate command levels in high-fidelity combat situations in actual battle zone territory.
It reduces the costs and logistics spent on field training while enabling a hyper-realistic training experience using the same operational Battle Management Systems that are in use by the IDF. The B2MTC presents commanders and their staff with a realistic operational picture, enables them to operate a range of assets, compels them to respond to real-time changes and requires them to cope with tactical communications that are realistically impacted by various effects. The B2MTC supports large-scale geo-specific terrain, dynamic weather and thousands of virtual entities, offering a uniquely engaging training experience for more than a hundred of trainees at a time. The system emulates the realistic flow of information between levels of command and from a range of intelligence, target acquisition and fire functions, enabling complex, joint combat scenarios to be exercised. In-service tactical communication is simulated, with performance realistically impacted by cyber, bandwidth, terrain, weather and other effects. The exercise director can introduce dynamic, on-the-fly changes into the simulation, allowing commanders to test their ability to react and adapt to the challenges of battle. The after action review and debrief mode offers synchronized playback of the entire exercise, providing trainees with meaningful insight into the consequences of decisions and actions.
14 Nov 20. Baltic Unity Swedish And US SOF Exercise. Swedish and US SOF (Special Operations Forces) have been cooperating in Southern Sweden on the bilateral Exercise BALTIC UNITY.
The recent Swedish-led Exercise BALTIC UNITY, consisting of both Conventional and Special Operations Forces, occurred in land, air and maritime domains to test combined military options, rapid response capabilities, and readiness to support Swedish defence and the Baltic Sea Region. American participants included the Mildenhall-based US Air Force 352 Special Operations Wing (352d SOW) and US Navy Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman and Special Reconnaissance Unmanned Underwater Vehicle operators.
Special Operations Forces create conditions for a rapid response to an imminent threat with air, land, and maritime capabilities to enhance stability in the region.
USAF News Release, 12 November 2020: This November, the 352d Special Operations Wing is participating in a multi-domain, joint exercise in various locations with Swedish Armed Forces. This training includes assets from both partner nations’ air, land and maritime components, who are working together to increase interoperability and relationships for future collaborative events.
“The US forces are incredibly honoured that our Swedish Special Operations Command partners invited us to stage and exercise with them here in Sweden. Our partners are highly capable professional operators, and we look forward to our continued collaboration throughout the Baltic Sea region,” said Joint Special Operations Task Force deputy commander of the exercise, Lt. Col. Houston Hodgkinson.
This bilateral exercise demonstrates the ability of Swedish and US Special Operations Forces, Air Forces and other components, to deploy and respond to a crisis in this area of responsibility.
“This exercise provides the opportunity to train with SOF partners as well as US and Swedish conventional forces across all warfighting functions and domains. This allows us to train how we will fight, while also highlighting the credibility and capability of our combined forces,” said JSOTF commander of the exercise, Col. Nathan Owendoff. “The additive benefit is the critical value of building trust and strengthening relationships between commanders, element leaders, and special operations forces across multiple echelons.”
Swedish and US forces conduct joint exercises across air, land and sea domains to further readiness and response capabilities within the Baltic Sea region. These exercises integrate both partner nations’ SOF capabilities with the conventional force missions and improve upon collaborative initiatives.
“The strength of Swedish and US Special Operations Forces together enable conventional armed forces to defend the region. We remain committed to cooperative security around the Baltic Sea,” said the Swedish exercise director, from SWESOCOM. (Source: joint-forces.com)
16 Nov 20. Chinese Future Fighter Trainer Could Use AI To Boost Pilot Learning. Chinese media has reported that designers from China’s state owned aviation industries are looking into adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their next generation of their future fighter trainers.
Asia AI News highlighted a report by China Central Television (CCTV) that during a programme on China’s latest L15 Falcon jet trainer, the aircraft’s designer Zhang Hong was quoted saying that by using AI technologies in future aircraft “we will be able to identify different habits each pilot has in flying. By managing them, we will let the pilots grow more safely and gain more combat capabilities.” The report stated that real flights could also be linked to simulators, allowing an interconnected virtual and real training regime. Such training could allow the skills of pilots to be analysed much faster, and their training focused to overcome each individual’s particular weakness.
According to Yang Wei, chief designer at Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), AI would likely be used in next generation combat aircraft to assist pilots in processing information and intelligence data, helping them to make quicker and more effective decisions during missions. (Source: Armada)
13 Nov 20. US Navy signs for more TH-73A training helos. The US Navy (USN) has contracted AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation to deliver a further 36 TH-73A training helicopters to add to the 32 already ordered.
The USD171.04m award announced on 12 November covers the manufacture and delivery of a second batch of helicopters under the USN’s Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) programme. Work is expected to run through to December 2022.
The announcement of the follow-on award comes some 11 months after the US arm of Leonardo Helicopters received USD176.5m in January for the initial batch of AW119-derived TH-73A helicopters to train USN, US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Coast Guard (USCG) undergraduate helicopter pilots. This initial award was protested by rival bidder Airbus Helicopters, but in May the US Government Accountability Office dismissed the protest, clearing AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation to continue the work at its Pennsylvania plant. (Source: Jane’s)
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