29 Dec 20. Raise the Black Flag: Nellis launches new Air Force operational test event. The 53rd Wing has consolidated its series of large-scale tests at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada into a new event called Black Flag. Black Flag aims to be the testing equivalent of the Air Force’s Red Flag training exercise, the wing said in a Sunday press release. Instead of building readiness, as Red Flag does, Black Flag is designed to build capability.
It seeks to do this by focusing on operational test and tactics development in an environment that realistically simulates massed forces in a high-threat environment, the release said. Black Flag is also the third in a trio of test events, alongside the multidomain test exercises Orange Flag and Emerald Flag.
“Black Flag is essential to national defense,” 53rd Wing commander Col. Ryan Messer said in the release. “Instituting a Flag-level exercise is the result of both the dedication of professionals in the 53rd Wing and also the support of senior leaders who acknowledge the importance of, and are investing in, testing like we fight.”
Air Combat Command head Gen. Mark Kelly signed an order Dec. 15 formally wrapping the tests up into Black Flag.
“Black Flag accelerates months of work and combines it into a high-end, large force testing event,” Kelly said. “Because combat is large force employment, test must also include large force employment.”
Kelly’s order said that the testing done as part of Black Flag will allow Combat Air Forces to find new capabilities and ways for fighters, bombers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, and classified programs to work together.
Other benefits of the new event will be to “foster a culture of Test Like We Fight that complements [Red Flag’s] Train Like We Fight,” among others, Kelly’s order said.
The 53rd Wing, which is the only wing responsible for operational test and tactics development for fighters, bombers and remotely-piloted aircraft, conducted beta tests of the Black Flag concept during recent large force test events in August and November.
One beta test was held Nov. 17 at the Nevada Test and Training Range, and included F-15Es, F-16s, F-22s and F-35s from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, as well as refueling from a KC-135 and KC-46. (Source: Defense News)
24 Dec 20. CAE USA authorized to proceed on Army Advanced Helicopter Flight Training Services contract.
- Expected program value, including options, of approximately US$90m over next seven years
- CAE will now play a role supporting the training of all U.S. Army aviators
CAE today announced that CAE USA is authorized to proceed on the United States Army contract to provide advanced helicopter flight training support services.
Under terms of the contract, CAE USA will provide classroom, simulator, and live flying instructor support services for Army aviators training to fly the CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk, and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The flight training support services will be provided at the U.S. Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
The total value of the contract, including the one-year base contract and six one-year options through 2027, is expected to be approximately US$90m. The initial base contract was included as part of CAE’s first quarter fiscal year 2021 order intake. The contract was protested and the contract award to CAE USA was subsequently upheld by the US Court of Federal Claims.
“We are honored the U.S. Army selected CAE to provide flight training services for aviators transitioning to fly the Army’s frontline combat helicopters,” said Ray Duquette, President and General Manager, CAE USA.
Once Army aviators graduate from the Initial-Entry Rotary-Wing training program, they are assigned to continue training on one of the Army’s frontline combat helicopters or transition to fixed-wing training on the C-12 Huron. CAE USA will now provide the instructor pilots required to deliver the flight training to approximately 900 Army aviators annually transitioning to the CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk, or AH-64 Apache. CAE USA will also deliver additional flight training support services by providing maintenance examiners and non-rated crewmember flight engineers.
“When combined with the fixed-wing flight training program we already support at our Dothan Training Center, CAE will now play a pivotal role supporting the training of all Army aviators progressing to their assigned operational aircraft,” said Dan Gelston, Group President, Defense & Security, CAE.
Several industry partners will support CAE USA on delivering the Army’s Advanced Helicopter Flight Training Services, including Navigator Development Group, Pinnacle Solutions, and MAG Aerospace. (Source: ASD Network)
19 Dec 20. This new USMC live-fire range has it all: robot enemies, rockets, mortars, breaching. Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, now have a range that can withstand all infantry weapons, including mortars, heavy machine guns and rockets, where they can fly drones and conduct breaches that they can assault from sea, air or land, and fight robot adversaries to make a company assault as real as possible.
And it’s likely to become the standard by which deploying infantry units are measured before they depart the East Coast on future missions.
In July 2019, Maj. Gen. Julian “Dale” Alford, base commanding general, told his base operations commander, Col. Gary McCullar, that he wanted to transform the dated, limited range that held pop-up targets and didn’t allow for supporting fire weapons into something that would give Marines the feel of fighting a peer competitor.
Alford had trained on that range at various levels of command dating back to his time as a lieutenant. He knew the limits of the range and wanted to see a change, McCullar said.
The first live-fire training event took place on Dec. 12 with Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Latham, battalion gunner, said in video provided by 2nd Marine Division that the sequencing of fires in support of maneuver, all the timing and sequencing is one of the more challenging tasks of a Marine infantry company.
“There’s really no comparison of this range to others,” he said. The space and obstacles, having 180 Marines maneuvering through an open area, in the tree line, across trenches gives Marines the whole training package.
McCullar told Marine Corps Times that he and his range design team got to work with a kind of clean slate. New technology acquired in recent years includes robot targets that can be controlled and even programmed to move more realistically, reacting to fire and moving to different locations, even mounting “counterattacks” against Marine units.
The previous Range 6 had pop-up targets that required electrical lines and communications lines to run and then limit where targets can be placed, essentially making the range fairly static, McCullar said. A squad member hitting the range for one deployment is going to come back to the same scenario a few years later for a follow-up training cycle.
The new range has been renamed Golf-36.
The original design also lacked the realistic feel of an actual objective assault. Due to its design, it was “really limited” he said. Basically, it included a single access attack, a full-frontal assault. “And we don’t do business that way.”
Marines would seize one objective, travel back along a road, seize another then travel back and seize the third objective.
The new, mobile robot adversaries, or “trackless motorized infantry targets,” gave designers a way to reimagine the range that didn’t rely on static, pop-up targets. Another technology has improved safety and given Marines more realistic ways to maneuver, and that is a “shock-absorbing” concrete that eliminates ricochets.
The robots have been in use for at least the past year and are adaptable to any live fire range on the base, McCullar said.
The material allows for Marines to fire from a variety of positions without risks and reduces wear and tear on the range that old, wooden fortifications sustained when taking repeated small arms or heavy fire.
These additions and some new methods create new scenarios, creating a kind of dynamic range that can give commanders a new look and new way to solve problems when training.
Freeing up the ways Marines could approach the range gave designers wider latitude to create reinforced trenches for robot counterparts to hide behind but also provide cover for the assaulting force.
It allowed them to incorporate an approach through the nearby woods so Marines can face those obstacles and have more creative attack solutions.
“I believe this range will become the culminating event for 2d Marine Division’s Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE), which evaluates units deploying forward into harm’s way,” said division gunner Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joshua Smith. “One of the hardest actions for a unit to conduct is live-fire and maneuver at night.”
And that is the goal, for the range to be used in a company-sized live-fire maneuver at night.
They also widened the footprint of the range. The old Golf 6 range was slated as a company-sized, live-fire assault range and stood at about 1,000 by 900 meters in size. The new Golf 36 is 1,000 meters by 1,500 meters and units scheduling the range also get adjacent ranges, Golf 27, 27a, and 28. That allows for supporting mortar fire from the adjacent ranges to be included in the attack.
“One of the unique things about this range is that we incorporated the environment. Typically, on most live-fire ranges, the trees are removed and the grass is cut in order to allow for the safe execution and supervision of live-fire training,” said Smith. “G-36 adds the environment as part of the problem. In parts of the range, the trees play into the problem, as it is harder to see some of the enemy – just as it would be in real life.”
The range overhaul was done using Marine units, the colonel said. Units such as 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and 8th Engineer Support Battalion along with others. That work started in June this year and was finished by October. McCullar said the project cost an estimated $2.3m but could have cost four to five times as much if done with non-military assets.
Not far from the ranges lies the beach and helicopter landing zones. With coordination, units can assault by sea, moving overland or hit the landing zones by helo before hoofing it to the attack.
Marines will still progress through smaller unit phases at other ranges before combining their skills on this culminating range. But before that kind of culminating, realistic training required a trip out to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center at Twentynine Palms, California or to Army facilities such as Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, or Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The time and money saved staying in their own backyard offer their own benefit, McCullar said.
“At the end of the day, this increases the MEF readiness. Infantry companies and battalions can train locally on Camp Lejeune, get the required training, integrate all organic weapons, utilize robots to aid in that training,” McCullar said. (Source: Marine Times)
23 Dec 20. 1st 2 M-345 Jet Trainer Aircraft Delivered to the Italian AF.
- Profumo: “the first delivery of this new aircraft is a significant milestone and a success for the Country”
- The Italian Air Force has a total requirement for up to 45 M-345s. They will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982
- As well as being the future aircraft of the Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori acrobatic team, the M-345 is a highly-effective military pilot training platform, delivering jet trainer aircraft-like performance and efficiency at the cost of a turboprop.
Yesterday Leonardo delivered the first two M-345 jet trainer aircraft to the Italian Air Force, which to-date has ordered 18 units from a total requirement for up to 45 aircraft. The new type, designated T-345A by the Italian Air Force, will gradually replace the 137 MB-339s which have been in service since 1982.
Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Managing Director, said: “Building on our heritage and expertise in jet trainers, the M-345 will allow our customers to achieve a significant improvement in training effectiveness while at the same time reducing operating costs. This first delivery to the Italian Air Force is a key milestone, the result of a longstanding and productive team working closely together with the operator.”
The new M-345, designed to meet basic and basic-advanced training requirements, will complement the in-service M-346, which is used for advanced pilot training. Leonardo’s integrated training system developed around the M-345 platform, is representative of the company’s technological leadership in training pilots to fly current and future generation aircraft. The system benefits from experience with, and technology developed for, the M-346, which includes a “Live Virtual Constructive” capability. This allows aircraft which are flying live training missions to incorporate simulated “friend” or “foe” elements into scenarios, allowing the pilot to be exposed to the full range of possible operational situations.
The M-345 is a high-performance aircraft which supports a pilot’s transition from basic trainers to latest-generation fighters. The Italian Air Force’s acquisition of the new aircraft is an important step forward in the modernization of its fleet, with the M-345 replacing the MB-339A in Air Force’s second and third military pilot training phases. The M-345 has also been chosen as the new aircraft of the Italian Air Force’s acrobatic team, the “Frecce Tricolori”. (Source: ASD Network)
21 Dec 20. Invitation to Register: RAN Autonomous Warrior Exercises. has issued an Invitation to Register (ITR) an interest in participating in future Autonomous Warrior (AW) exercises. AW is the Navy’s flagship program to demonstrate, evaluate and trial emerging Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence (RAS-AI) technologies at a variety of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). AW events provide an opportunity to increase mutual understanding between Defence and industry in a realistic environment while fostering collaborative relationships.
AW will also conduct targeted demonstrations and displays, industry briefs and operator/maintainer engagement with RAS-AI manufacturers and designers. This process of co-design, bringing together RAN end users and industry, will underpin a program of learning by doing, continuous improvement and development.
This invitation to register is an open approach to market that will identify potential candidates to participate in one or more AW exercises at locations across Australia.
Details can be found at clause 2.8 of the Conditions of Registration. Documents can be downloaded from AusTender at this link: https://www.tenders.gov.au/Atm/Show/147a19ab-2094-4f6f-8aed-25cb3f527bcf?PreviewMode=False (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)
23 Dec 20. USAF B-1 Lancers, F-22 Raptors fly the flag in SCS. A US Air Force B-1B Lancer launched from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to conduct a Bomber Task Force mission in the Indo-Pacific, working in partnership with USAF F-22 Raptors.
The 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, sent one bomber from the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) to conduct rapid response training with two F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron (FS), 1st Fighter Wing, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
Prior to integrating with the 94th FS, the B-1 Lancer travelled to the South China Sea to conduct stand-off weapons training with the goal of improving co-ordination with command and control elements.
The F-22 mission commander said, “This mission gave us the opportunity to integrate with the B-1s and several agencies across the US Air Force to test the alert posture and readiness of Andersen AFB against symmetric and asymmetric threats.
“It was a unique experience to be able to launch F-22s at a moment’s notice to intercept simulated air threats and hone our skills.”
The Indo-Pacific region serves as the priority theater for the Department of Defense. Bomber Task Force missions provide units the opportunity to challenge and train members to adapt to new environments and become familiar with the geographic area.
Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Coleman, 37th EBS commander, added, “One of the benefits of Bomber Task Force deployments is the ability to integrate with other assets. The ability to work alongside the 94 FS was a unique experience for our aircrew and provided a rare training opportunity.”
The US remains committed to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region, and will continue to seek out ways to train and improve readiness with both fighter and bomber operations.
Lt Col Coleman added, “These missions display our resolve, as well as commitment to Allies in the region. They also demonstrate the ability of Bomber Task Forces to operate across the globe.” (Source: Defence Connect)
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InVeris Training Solutions combines an agile approach with an unmatched expertise in training technology to design and deliver customized, cutting-edge, first-rate training solutions that keep military, law enforcement, private and commercial range clients safe, prepared and ready to serve – Because Seconds Matter™. With a portfolio of technology-enabled training solutions, and a team of more than 400 employees driven to innovate, InVeris Training Solutions is the global leader in integrated live-fire and virtual weapons training solutions. With its legacy companies, FATS® and Caswell, InVeris Training Solutions has fielded over 15,000 live-fire ranges and 5,100 virtual systems globally during its 90-year history. The Company is headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia and partners with clients in the US and around the world from facilities on five continents.