10 Feb 21. US carrier strike groups conduct exercises in South China Sea. The US Navy has announced that two carrier strike groups have conducted joint exercises in the South China Sea amid rising tensions with China.
As a part of dual-carrier operations, the ships and aircraft of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group undertook a multitude of exercises to increase interoperability.
The move marks the first dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea since July last year.
USS Theodore Roosevelt currently serves as the flagship vessel of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, while USS Nimitz is the CSG 11 flagship.
CSG 9 commander rear admiral Doug Verissimo said: “Training with Carrier Strike Group Eleven in the South China Sea is a tremendously valuable opportunity.
“Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Such dual carrier operations are aimed to maintain the readiness of the US forces and to demonstrate the US Navy’s ability to operate in challenging environments.
CSG 11 commander rear admiral Jim Kirk said: “Working cooperatively alongside Carrier Strike Group Nine improves our collective tactical skill while ensuring regional stability and security.
“We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea that all nations enjoy under international law.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Feb 21. Bell offers 429 for Canada FAcT pilot training. Bell is offering its 429 GlobalRanger helicopter to Canada for its Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) programme. The company announced 9 February that it is offering the twin-engined helicopter that is already in service with the Canadian Coast Guard for the rotary-winged portion of the country’s FAcT pilot training programme.
“Bell’s workforce of 1,300 Canadians is proud to offer the Bell 429, a proven and ideally suited platform designed, built, tested, and certified in Canada, for the future of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” the company announced on its Twitter account.
The Bell 429 GlobalRanger is a comparatively new design. As noted by Bell, more than 330 GlobalRangers have been sold worldwide to date, with in excess of 330,000 hours flown. The 429 can seat eight passengers, has a maximum cruise speed of 150 kt, a range of 761 km, and an endurance of 4.5 hours (all at no reserve fuel and 4,000 ft altitude).
FAcT will cover all facets of Canada’s military flight-training requirements, with a formal request for proposals (RFP) expected later in the year and a contract award in 2023. One contract will be issued covering all the requirements, including maintenance and infrastructure services. The contract period is expected to be at least 20 years.
BAE Systems announced it was withdrawing its planned participation in the programme in April 2019, followed by Airbus and Lockheed Martin in September 2019 and December 2020 respectively. Currently, only Babcock Canada Inc, Leonardo Canada, and SkyAlyne Canada Limited Partnership are competing the FAcT requirement. Bell did not disclose which team would include the 429 in its bid, although in 2020 Babcock offered the 429 to Australia. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Feb 21. CAE to design and manufacture hardware for RNZAF’s P-8A flight trainer. Canadian company CAE announced on 8 February that it has received a contract from Boeing to design and manufacture the hardware for the P-8A operational flight trainer (OFT) ordered for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in December 2020.
The company also said that it will develop a suite of P-8A Aircraft Equipment enhanced Desktop Environment (AeDTE) trainers for use as role-playing stations during training of P-8A aircrews. Both the P-8A OFT and the AeDTEs are scheduled for delivery to RNZAF Base Ohakea in 2023.
The P-8A OFT for the RNZAF will be similar to the OFTs CAE and Boeing have developed for the US Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the UK Royal Air Force, said the company.
The latest developments come after the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on 11 December 2020 that Boeing had been awarded a USD109m contract to provide the RNZAF with training systems for its future fleet of four P-8A Poseidon maritime multi-mission aircraft (MMA).
The Pentagon specified at the time that the order is for one OFT, along with one OFT brief/debrief station (BDS); one weapon tactics trainer (WTT) with a WTT BDS; a 10-seat flight management systems trainer electronic classroom; a 10-seat mission systems desktop trainer electronic classroom; a training system support centre; a scenario-generation station; a virtual maintenance trainer; a maintenance support cabinet; and a 10-seat maintenance electronic classroom.
Work is expected to be completed by January 2024. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Feb 21. US Naval Forces and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces Conduct Bilateral Mine Warfare Exercise. The U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), began Mine Warfare Exercise (MIWEX) 1JA 2021 off the coast of southwestern Japan, Jan. 28.
MIWEX 1JA is part of an annual series of exercises between the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations between the two forces.
Capt. Derek Brady, the commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven, always looks forward to working with the JMSDF. “While it is always good any time we are able to practice interoperability with our allies, the true benefit of this exercise is the opportunity to employ new techniques and equipment like the Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (ExMCM) Company, alongside more traditional methods,” he said. “The experience gained helps us better map the future for mine warfare in the Pacific.”
During the nine-day exercise, participants work together to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield using unit-level mine warfare tactics to include mine hunting, detection, and neutralization.
“Mine Warfare Exercises like 1JA reinforce our partnership and interoperability with the highly skilled Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force,” said Lt. Nick Woods, the officer in charge of Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures Company 1-1. “Simultaneously, they allow our ExMCM forces to hone the edge by rapidly deploying a scaled force package to a vessel of opportunity and conducting full-spectrum, detect-to-engage mine warfare. The exercise also affords us an excellent opportunity to employ our platform-agnostic unmanned systems throughout the region, ensuring we’re prepared to operate in any environment. In all, it is truly a pleasure to work with our Japanese hosts to remain prepared to clear waterways for freedom of navigation and maritime maneuvers.”
JMSDF Mine Warfare Force and Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 commanders work together throughout the exercise to direct mine hunting tasks for U.S. and JMSDF units. This training allows all the units to practice communicating and operating in a combined environment and learn to maximize their cumulative mine hunting capability.
“This is our second bilateral mine sweeping exercise conducted in Ise Bay. We are pleased to conduct this exercise by taking sufficient countermeasures against COVID-19 despite the state of emergency in Japan. This exercise follows the ones held in Mutsu Bay and Hyuga-nada Sea last year,” said Rear Adm. Fukuda Tatsuya, Commander, Mine Warfare Force. “The purpose of the exercise is to further strengthen collaboration with the U.S. Navy and increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations of the JMSDF. Cooperation between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy in the field of mine warfare is essential to ensure the safety of shipping, and I am confident that the improved mine warfare capabilities and enhanced cooperation between us through this exercise will contribute to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region. I hope that participants from the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy will achieve desired results in this exercise.”
U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, assigned to expeditionary mine countermeasures capability of Task Force 75 are embarked on JMSDF Uraga-class mine warfare command ship JS Uraga (MST 463), working alongside members of the JMSDF to increase interoperability and proficiency in mine warfare operations.
Mine Countermeasure Squadron (COMCMRON) 7 is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and consists of USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Warrior (MCM 10), and USS Chief (MCM 14) in Sasebo, and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Detachment 2A.
CTF 75 is U.S. 7th Fleet’s primary expeditionary task force and is responsible for the planning and execution of maritime security operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, engineering and construction, and underwater construction throughout the Indo-Pacific region.(Source: ASD Network/USN)
09 Feb 21. Shipbuilding College partners with SA government. South Australia’s Marshall government has partnered with the Naval Shipbuilding College in a bid to bolster job opportunities.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has endorsed the federal government’s Naval Shipbuilding College (NSC) and has committed to working with Canberra to deliver new job opportunities for the state’s workforce.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price welcomed Premier Marshall’s partnership with the federal government through the NSC, which would support major Defence projects.
“By 2030, our shipbuilding sector will support about 15,000 jobs across Australia,” Minister Price said.
“Both the Hunter Class frigates and the Attack Class submarines will be built at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.
“By the end of the decade, these two construction programs will directly employ over 4,000 Australians, with many more employed in the supply chain.”
She continued: “Two Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels are also currently under construction at Osborne.”
Minister Price added that the Morrison government is committed to developing a workforce capable of delivering on the government’s broader $270bn investment in Australia’s defence capability.
“It is for this reason that the Coalition government set up the Naval Shipbuilding College in 2018,” Minister Price said.
“The college is helping states, territories, prime contractors and Australian businesses to develop workforce growth strategies and business support strategies to boost shipbuilding and naval sustainment sectors.
“Through cooperation with all levels of government, including South Australia, the college is working to establish and develop new workforce pipelines and ensure there are clear career pathways for jobseekers into the naval shipbuilding sector.” (Source: Defence Connect)
10 Feb 21. Jamaica has ordered six new Bell 505 JetRanger X helicopters to be used for civilian support and pilot training operations. The JetRanger X procurement, announced by Bell on 9 February, will see the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) augment its recently acquired Bell 429 GlobalRanger and 412 helicopters in supporting public safety, as well as using them to train international rotorcraft pilots at the Caribbean Military Aviation School (CMAS).
“This new aircraft delivery will grow JDF’s current fleet to 10 Bell helicopters, which serve in search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, medical evacuations, natural disaster relief, national security, and military training operations,” Bell said. The company did not disclose a contract value or delivery timeline for the new helicopters.
The 505 is a relatively new design from Bell, although it incorporates proven dynamic components carried over from the 206 and the Garmin G1000H cockpit from the 407. It has a top speed of 125 kt, and useful load of 680 kg. The JDF is the second military operator of the type, after the Montenegrin Air Force signed for two in September 2020. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Feb 21. New Marine Rotational Force to arrive in Top End. Over 2,000 US Marines are set to arrive in the Northern Territory over the coming months. US Marines from the 10th Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) will soon begin arriving in Darwin.
Approximately 2,200 personnel are expected to arrive over the next five months, with each group containing between 200-500 Marines.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the 2021 rotation would build on last year’s modified deployment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ability for this year’s MRF-D to go ahead under challenging global circumstances is a testament to the endurance and adaptability of the Australia-US alliance,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The annual rotation demonstrates Australia’s and the United States’ commitment to Indo-Pacific stability and security.
“The MRF-D and Australian Defence Force (ADF) will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end live-fire exercises.”
The ADF and MRF-D are also expected to train alongside regional allies throughout the year, with activities including Exercise Talisman Sabre.
“These opportunities are a priority for the US Force Posture Initiatives, developing people-to-people links, interoperability and the sharing of expertise,” Minister Reynolds added.
COVID-safe protocols have been put in place to manage the MRF-D’s arrival, with measures including:
- a comprehensive COVID-19 risk management plan, agreed to by the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer;
- all US personnel undergoing COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of departure for Australia and presenting a negative result before boarding;
- all US personnel completing mandatory 14-day quarantine, including COVID-19 testing, on arrival in Australia and again before exiting quarantine; and
- MRF-D and ADF medical personnel monitoring the health of personnel.
The MRF-D has leased a secure facility outside Darwin for the majority of personnel to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
However, the first two groups are expected to quarantine in isolated accommodation on a Defence base.
“Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner and I have discussed the extensive arrangements that have been put in place to manage the risk of COVID-19,” Minister Reynolds added.
“I have also reaffirmed the Morrison government’s commitment to Defence investment in the Northern Territory.”
“I thank the Northern Territory government for their continued support in facilitating these strategically important activities for our nation.”
This year is the 10th anniversary of the United States Force Posture Initiatives, and marks 70 years of the ANZUS treaty. (Source: Defence Connect)
08 Feb 21. For CAE the future means expansion in cyber, space and more defense acquisitions. With defense budgets around the globe expected to fall, simulation and training firm CAE is moving to diversify its defense and security portfolio, with an emphasis on space and cyber capabilities.
Dan Gelston, who took over CAE’s defense and security business unit in August 2020, told Defense News that his team is also looking to partner with defense primes during the early stages of new competitions, a shift which could require CAE investing in research and engineering efforts.
Over the last two decades, CAE was “very focused” on traditional platforms, particularly planes and unmanned aerial vehicles, Gelston said. Now, he expects the future of the company to involve “a real focus on space and cyber, not only for that customer, but also for CAE. And those are areas that we need to augment our capabilities to make sure that we’re providing the best product, the best service to help our customers.”
The full interview will air as part of CAE’s OneWorld event Feb. 9.
CAE reported just over $1bn in defense revenues in 2019, which made it the highest-ranked Canadian company on the annual Defense News Top 100 list. Currently, Gelston’s unit makes up about 40 percent of the company’s overall business, but he sees a chance to hit a “much larger” market going forward.
Gelston’s plan includes increasing the “security” part of the company’s “defense and security” portfolio by aggressively pursuing contracts for government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration. This would competing for what he describes as a “multi-hundred-million dollar opportunity with TSA here in the next few months” for training security forces for airports.
“With space assets ability to target, with cyber assets ability to attack anywhere and everywhere, it’s not just the Pentagon, it’s critical infrastructure, it’s a lot of what we traditionally have separated into DHS. So that security element is crucial,” he said.
“We could really bring a lot of our research and development, our capabilities in machine learning and AI and virtual reality and augmented learning management systems” to DHS, which “you could categorize a little more of a traditional time phased approach to training.”
As the company seeks to expand into the non-defense security realm, Gelston said the company is keeping an eye out for potential merger and acquisition options, saying “I certainly would like to think in the next 18 to 24 months a property would come along, that’s particularly attractive to me.”
2020 was a rocky year for CAE, which was hit particularly hard given its ties to the commercial aviation space. But the company worked quickly to shave costs, and toward the end of the year issued a public offering, with the goal of raising roughly $2bn Canadian ($1.56 bn American). The plan, as Gelston said, was to have enough “dry powder to make sure that we’re coming out leaning forward out of the COVID crisis. We don’t want to be hunkering down just trying to survive. We want to take advantage of this.”
While not discussing specifics, Gelston emphasized that “I’d love to get a little more robust training capability in the cyber realm… that’s an area that that I can certainly see augmenting with potential acquisition here in the next 18 to 24 months if the right property comes along, I think we would be positioned to potentially pursue that.”
Teaming with defense manufacturers
That focus on new areas doesn’t mean the company is turning away from traditional defense projects, but it does come with a greater focus on teaming up with prime contractors early in the process to offer the DoD and other customers a package solution from the start, as opposed to bidding on training and simulation contracts after a design has been selected.
He pointed to the surprise rapid test-flight of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) demonstrator from last September as an example of how defense acquisition is speeding up.
“Our defense acquisition officials are really looking for skin in the game from industry” early on, he said. “We don’t have the time for the classic cost-plus development work, years and years and multiple phases” of a project.
“No company, even the big OEMs, have unlimited research and development budgets. No company, even Lockheed Martin, has unlimited engineering assets,” he continued. “So if I can partner with these OEMs on these major next generation platforms now and start co developing as they develop the platform, I’m codeveloping the training in the simulation experience, and sharing some of that burden, adding skin into the game for research and development engineering — It’s not just money, it’s also time, and time, arguably right now is our is our biggest enemy — I can really help those OEMs and give them a true discriminator in their offering.”
“And certainly at the end, that international or us customer is going to be much better off as they’ve got a fully baked, fully integrated training and simulation solution with that new platform.”
In addition to looking into NGAD, Gelston said the company plans to pursue nearer-term contracts related to the F-35 joint strike fighter, MQ-9B drone, and the Army’s Future Vertical Lift competition, while also continuing ongoing efforts like its C-130H business, which was awarded in 2018. (Source: Defense News)
02 Feb 21. COMBINED RESOLVE XV Begins In Germany. Approximately 4,500 participants from six ally and partner nations are scheduled to participate in COMBINED RESOLVE XV at the US Army’s Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels training areas, Feb. 1- Mar. 5, 2021.
The exercise is designed to evaluate and assess the readiness of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division to fight and win during their regionally allocated forces rotation in support of ATLANTIC RESOLVE. The exercise also focuses on strengthening interoperability with multinational partners.
“This is an exciting time to be on the US Army Europe and Africa team training with our multinational allies and partners,” said Col. Monte Rone, commander, 1st Cav. Div. (Forward). “COMBINED RESOLVE XV is an excellent opportunity to build unit readiness and enhance interoperability with our allies and partners. We look forward to improving critical war fighting skills that will enable the team to fight and win. And yes – Winning Matters! In order to win, we must be highly trained, disciplined and fit. COMBINED RESOLVE XV will allow commanders to assess unit performance and refine unit training plans in preparation for DEFENDER 21.”
Other units slated to take part in COMBINED RESOLVE XV include the current ATLANTIC RESOLVE aviation rotation, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade; as well as units permanently stationed in Germany including the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command; 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st TSC; and US Special Operations Command Europe forces. Nations listed to join the exercise include Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
The 7th Army Training Command resources the training readiness for all of USAREURAF’s [US Army Europe And Africa] assigned and allocated forces using its internal training capabilities and capacity at the Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels training areas, like the combat training centre rotations at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. To protect the health of the service members, participants will follow COVID mitigation measures like restriction of movement and testing.
The main body of 1st ABCT, 1st CD has been located in the Grafenwöhr Training Area footprint and conducted a transfer of authority ceremony there, Nov. 30, 2020, to recognise the unit’s movement of operations from Fort Hood, Texas, to the European theatre in support of ATLANTIC RESOLVE. (Source: http://www.joint-forces.com)
About InVeris Training Solutions
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 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 7,500 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.