28 Jan 21. US Army plans major aviation exercise ahead of Project Convergence. The U.S. Army will head out west to conduct an intricate, aviation-focused exercise called Edge 21 ahead of the service’s second Project Convergence event, Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen, who is in charge of Army aviation modernization, told Defense News in a recent interview.
Edge 21 — which stands for Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise — will be held at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, in May, Rugen said, and will serve as a gateway event for Project Convergence 21.
Project Convergence is a campaign of learning that began in 2020 and will be held annually to bring together key technologies designed to fight across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
The new exercise will apply space, aviation and network capabilities to how the Army and the joint force would fight in the Indo-Pacific theater based on high-fidelity modeling the service has used to show the efficacy of its capabilities in Indo-Pacific Command’s area of operation.
The event will test the Army’s future vertical lift aircraft and other enablers planned to be fielded in the 2030s. It will also test the fleet’s effectiveness in multidomain operations against high-end adversaries.
“What we’re seeing is, again, that integration of these capabilities, drafting off of our 10,000 engineering runs on our modeling and then plowing that into a western test range with active threat emitters and fighting it,” Rugen said.
A second round of high-fidelity modeling focused on INDOPACOM’s area of operations has wrapped up, and senior leaders are receiving information on the results. The findings are classified, but Rugen said the activity showed that future vertical lift systems offer transformational reach, and the future vertical lift ecosystem proved that capability in the lower tier of the air domain “can really be decisive.” A third round will focus on the joint force, he added, to guide how Project Convergence 21 can serve as a joint effort.
Edge 21 will expand on both the Army’s architecture, automation, autonomy and interface capabilities, or A3I, which was demonstrated at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, in 2019 and Project Convergence 2020, Rugen said.
Defense News was on the ground at the A3I demonstration at China Lake.
Whereas Project Convergence focused on the penetration and dis-integration portions of the Multi-Domain Operations war-fighting concept using the aerial tier, Edge 21 will take it a step further and exercise the exploitation phase of operations, focusing on the air assault mission.
The penetration phase focuses on neutralizing long-range systems and contesting enemy maneuver forces from operational and strategic distances. The dis-integration phase focuses on neutralizing long- and short-range systems while conducting maneuver and deception operations. The exploitation phase features the freedom to maneuver to defeat enemy objectives and forces.
The Army will partner with the Marine Corps, U.S. Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division, which is sending its tactical command post, according to Rugen. The exercise will also feature long-range precision fires capabilities, which is key to fighting in the Pacific theater.
Edge 21 will feature a multitude of capabilities across the upper and lower air domain. The Army is looking at bringing in fifth-generation fighter jets; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; space assets present at Project Convergence; electronic warfare assets; and artificial intelligence capabilities.
And the A3I Gray Eagle drone will make another appearance along with other capabilities related to the future attack reconnaissance aircraft ecosystem, Rugen said.
The exercise will likely incorporate an “Air-Launched Effects-Large” capability, currently under development through a partnership with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office. While Rugen could not provide specific ALE-L details, he did say: “We have payloads that we want that are a little bit bigger, and so we have a form factor that is a bigger form factor.”
Edge 21 will hopefully demonstrate the advantage of fighting in the lower tier of the air domain, Rugen said.
“There’s a lot of radar clutter in the lower tier of the air, of the air domain. These future advanced rotorcraft configurations that we’re looking at give us superior transformational reach, where we can operate from relative sanctuary, which is really outside of the medium-range ballistic missile. We can operate disaggregated, which keeps us away from long-range ballistic missiles targeting an airport or ship port,” he said. “We can quickly aggregate, cover the range we need with the superior reach, and then bring standoff and overmatch.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Jan 21. 4GD expands SmartFacility with two new product launches. Close-combat immersive specialist 4GD announces the launch of two new products, ECFECTUS and ACIES, expanding their SmartFacility urban training solution.
The 4GD SmartFacility combines reactive smart targetry, the 4GAV special effects suite and reconfigurable SimWall; all wirelessly connected to deliver the highest quality training with the maximum flexibility. The new solutions will expand the system’s capabilities, combining data analysis and integrated reality elements to enable users to train more effectively.
ECFECTUS is a tactical performance data collection and analysis system that collates data from soldier and weapon and SmartFacility sensors. At the individual soldier level the solution will draw data from eye, biometric, personnel and weapon sensors. When combined with data from 4GD smart target – also known as SimStriker -, ECFECTUS aggregates the data to provide feedback on training mission lethality, survivability, mobility and sustainability.
This feedback enables commanders to chart an individual and collective performance over time and provide targeted advice on improvement. As the SmartFacility is a fully controllable environment, scenarios can be repeatedly run to objectively test and compare different units and track progress over time.
ACIES is an integrated reality system that introduces the synthetic world to the physical SmartFacility environment. Trainees can use operational hardware interfaces to interact with virtual assets that it would otherwise not be possible to integrate. For example, soldiers can use dismounted situational awareness devices to interface with virtual drone feeds to train for different scenario outcomes, with actions taken in the virtual world having an effect in the real world and vice versa.
ACIES also draws data from ECFECTUS to ensure the simulation stays true to the activity taking place in the SmartFacility. Using the example above, soldier avatars in a drone feed match the movement of troops in the physical facility.
ACIES can also be used to interface with other synthetic trainers; and the adaptability of the system means scene culture – such as streets, gardens or court yards – can be replicated inside the SmartFacility for optimised training that closely reflects real world environments, and meaningful use of ISTAR and similar assets.
“We continue to develop the SmartFacility urban training environment around the theme of supporting decentralised training, with the intelligence and adaptability of the facility meaning we can make training varied and challenging from individual locations” James Crowley, Business Development Director, 4GD, said. “These locations, be they in a training camp or garrison, can then provide endless opportunities for training in an adaptable environment that is simple to use in order to empower trainees and junior commanders.”
28 Jan 21. Cobham Aviation Services becomes Draken Europe. Draken International has rebranded its recently acquired Cobham Group Aviation Services UK business, changing the name of the UK-based aviation training provider to Draken Europe.
The change, announced by the company on 28 January, has been made to differentiate the business from the Draken US branch of Draken International, and comes four months after the Aviation Services UK business was divested by Cobham Group on 25 September 2020. Cobham, which was itself acquired by US private equity firm Advent International in January 2020, declined to comment at the time to Janes as to why it has sold off this arm of its business.
Based at Bournemouth International Airport in England where it supports more than 300 jobs, the newly rebranded Draken Europe fields a fleet of 15 Dassault Falcon 20 business jets for military training, undertakes aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO), and provides helicopter training, support, and search and rescue services to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). (Source: Jane’s)
28 Jan 21. Top Aces begins receiving surplus Israeli F-16s. Top Aces Corporation has begun receiving surplus Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft from Israel for contractor-based ‘Red Air’ training against the US Air Force (USAF), both parties to the deal announced on 28 January.
Canadian based Top Aces and the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) disclosed shipment of the first batch out of F-16A/B ‘Netz’ jets, with at least three of the 29 aircraft flown to North America onboard an Antonov An-124 airlifter.
“Top Aces Corporation is proud to announce that its first F16s are currently on their way to Mesa, Arizona, in support of the US Department of Defense adversary air training. Top Aces will become the first commercial provider in the world to offer the supersonic F16,” the Red Air contractor announced.
The Israeli MoD noted, “Following negotiations led by SIBAT [MoD facilitation service], the MoD has signed an unprecedented agreement to supply 29 F-16 aircraft to Top Aces. These will be employed as staged adversary aircraft in US Air Force training.”
Top Aces (formerly Discovery Air) already fields Dornier Alpha Jets, Douglas A-4 Skyhawks and Bombardier Learjets that is uses for contractor owned and contractor operated (COCO) training. While these aircraft have proven adequate for training against older ‘third generation’ and earlier adversaries, they have struggled to replicate the ‘fourth generation’ and higher threats that US pilots are increasingly facing. To this end, it was announced in November 2020 that the company had selected surplus Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16A/B jets to fulfil its current and future requirements. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Jan 21. Norway Cancels Big Military Exercise After 1,000 US Marines Arrive in Country. After the Norwegian government canceled an international military exercise this week, the U.S. Marine Corps is determining what to do with the 1,000 Marines who arrived there earlier this month to train.
Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen canceled the exercise on Tuesday, citing spikes in coronavirus cases in the country.
“We must be one step ahead to try to avoid the spread of the mutated, and more contagious variant of the virus,” Bakke-Jensen said. “We have weighed the arguments and our decision has been to cancel the planned allied exercise activity in Troms.”
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About 3,400 troops from Norway, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany were scheduled to participate in the cold-weather training exercises, called Rein I and Joint Viking. All but about 500 of them had already arrived in Troms to train.
Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa spokesman, said there will now be a controlled termination of the exercise in line with COVID-19 restrictions.
“We are working closely with our Norwegian military counterparts to determine the next steps with our Marines who are currently deployed to Norway,” Rankine-Galloway said.
About 1,000 Marines arrived in Setermoen, Norway, earlier this month. Troms is about 100 miles north of Setermoen, near the Barents Sea. The waterway is considered Russia’s naval backyard.
Bakke-Jensen said as of Tuesday, there would be a halt in the arrival of new allied forces to Indre Troms. For those forces already in place, there will be a “well-planned departure.”
More than 61,000 Norwegians have been infected with COVID-19, the sometimes-fatal illness caused by the new coronavirus. More than 500 people have died of the virus there.
The country has seen 14,637 new cases over the last month, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. That’s close to the record-high 15,819 cases Norway recorded in November — the highest level there since the start of the global pandemic.
More than 2.1 million people have died from the virus worldwide. Medical experts are also warning about a new strain of the virus that is more contagious and possibly more deadly.
Last year’s iteration of Cold Response, another major NATO exercise, was also significantly scaled back due to the pandemic. Training in and around the Arctic Circle has been a priority for NATO forces to counter Russia in the region.
Bakke-Jensen said some winter training could be tailored “in adherence with proper infection prevention measures until the various departure dates.”
“I want to thank all our allies who have shown great flexibility and understanding in a challenging situation,” the defense minister said.(Source: military.com)
20 Jan 21. USAF 492nd Fighter Squadron completes ACE training at RAF Lakenheath. The US Air Force’s (USAF) 492nd Fighter Squadron has finished an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) training. The US Air Force’s (USAF) 492nd Fighter Squadron has finished an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) training. The three-day exercise was conducted at British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in the UK.
It included the participation of four F-15E Strike Eagles and a 14-airmen maintenance team.
The ACE concept is aimed at developing multi-capable airmen and aircrew.
Participants were put through cross-discipline training to learn new skills outside their normal daily duties, enhance mission readiness and hone their capabilities.
USAF 492nd Fighter Squadron F-15E pilot captain David Spieker said: “We had a subject matter expert from each career field, and we were all learning and executing each other’s duties.
“It helps everyone gain an appreciation of each other’s jobs and makes cooperation more successful in the future.”
During the training, the fighter jets’ aircrew and airmen took part in a simulated deployment environment at a forward-operating base at RAF Lakenheath airfield.
In support of the mission at the base, two of the aircraft landed at RAF Leuchars Airfield, Scotland, for refuelling.
Leuchars Diversion Airfield commanding officer Barry Flynn said: “The visit of two 48th Fighter Wing F-15’s was a great example of a well-planned and proficiently executed mission.
“The USAF planners did an exceptional job of keeping Leuchars informed of requirements and timings, which ensured a smooth-running operation. This visit is hopefully the first step of a friendship between the 48th Fighter Wing and Leuchars Airfield.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
22 Jan 21. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) conducted fighter training in the High Arctic with CF-18 Hornet fighters. From January 18 to 20, 2021, as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ ongoing commitment to an enduring presence in the furthest reaches of the Arctic, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) conducted High Arctic air training involving two CF-18 Hornet fighters and one CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft operating from Iqaluit, Nunavut.
The training saw CF-18 fighter jets from Bagotville, Quebec rendezvous with a CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refueller over Baffin Bay where they successfully conducted air-to-air refuelling before continuing North for the remainder of the mission conducting an Arctic patrol up the North-East side of Baffin Island, in the vicinity of Nanisivik, Nunavut.
Training like this demonstrates the RCAF’s ability to operate in the High Arctic. It enhances the RCAF’s ongoing support to operations and exercises, and showcases the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to project force into the region so that we can work cooperatively with our partners.
Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander, 1 Canadian Air Division, stated: “The Arctic is a fundamental part of Canada and this type of training strengthens situational awareness and information sharing with our Arctic partners and Allies while enhancing our agility and reach into Canada’s northernmost territories. This training ensures the RCAF remains strong at home, in line with Canada’s Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged.”
- Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet is Canada’s air defence fighter and is a key participant in air defence exercises and operations domestically and around the world; ensuring air sovereignty as part of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) or working with our NATO allies to provide Air Policing in Romania under Operation REASSURANCE.
- Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuellers support Canadian Armed Forces strategic airlift and air-to-air refuelling roles for domestic and overseas operations, as well as for NORAD, including Arctic operations. (Source: joint-forces.com)
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