28 Jul 21. USMC Finally getting a realistic force-on-force shooter for combat training. Within two years, Marines could finally see realistic shooting and effects when they go head to head with other services, allies or Marines in force-on-force training. Marine Corps Systems Command recently announced a contract award to Saab Inc. for the service’s Force-on-Force Training Systems-Next program. The FoFTS-Next system will allow Marines to move away from decades of semi-accurate laser weapons systems that can often be defeated by standing behind a leafy shrub and cannot replicate the trajectories, drops, shooting experience or effects on target that are desperately needed for live training. The Corps currently plans to buy 16 sets of the system and field them between 2023 and 2026 at all major bases, including Camp Pendleton, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; Japan and Guam. But the first set is likely headed for the centerpiece of Marine Corps ground combat training: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. Each of those individual sets should be able to handle an entirely kitted-up battalion. While early use will focus on the platoon and company level, the system will have the capacity for an entire battalion. Current software focuses on service weapons already at hand, but developers can build in ways to simulate future systems, such as the Next Generation Combat Weapon and even support items such as mortars, loitering munitions, artillery, grenades and more. The new system will also allow for real-world style target leading and weapons will show trajectory drop and other characteristics of shooting actual bullets.
“I think this is going to revolutionize the way we conduct force on force training,” Col. Luis Lara, program manager for Marine Corps Systems Command training systems, told Marine Corps Times.
For decades, Marines and soldiers used the multiple integrated laser engagement system, or MILES. While cutting edge for its time, it was developed in the late 1970s. It did not have as accurate shooting or realistic factors that are essential for training good shooting and maneuver tactics and habits.
Upgrades included the instrumented tactical engagement simulation system, or ITESS. While more accurate, ITESS still fell short of Marine goals for fidelity to real-world scenarios.
Even something as simple as speed mattered. Lasers fired from ITESS or MILES instantaneously struck targets. There’s a short, but very important, lag time when shooting a real firearm.
An added feature for the FoFTS-Next is a haptic wristwatch that will monitor if direct or indirect fire is coming toward the user, Lara said.
From a command and control perspective, the FoFTS-Next will also allow commanders and observers a clear view of what their Marines are doing.
In tests, the system could track the muzzle direction of Marines moving up floors of a building in an urban training site.
The system records, allowing for after-action reviews that units can take home with them from a training location to improve performance, Lara said.
And Marines quickly realize that this system is different, Lara said.
He shared an example of a platoon of Marines testing the system at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. That platoon had a fire team in a building trying to cross a danger area. With the old MILES or ITESS system, they knew the range and effectiveness of what they faced and crossed when they shouldn’t have.
“Within five minutes, 75 percent of the platoon was dead,” Lara said. “They had to regroup and try again. It caused them to say, ‘no kidding,’ we’re going to have to do this the right way.”
The Army is currently developing the integrated visual augmentation system, or IVAS, a do-it-all goggle that allows users to display multiple feeds of information and also use rapid target acquisition software that wirelessly links with a camera on their weapon.
That linkup allows users to see multiple views, picture in picture with the weapon’s sight, full view like a standard night vision goggle and weapon’s site view such as looking through an optic.
The colonel said that the Marines are closely aligned with the Army’s IVAS work and see this system as complementary for training purposes, allowing shooters to connect the two at some point in future scenarios and development.
Lara said that Marines have been experimenting with and testing the system at multiple events over the past year. Those included a platoon-sized element from The Basic School, out of Quantico.
A separate event from August to September 2020 worked with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, each of which provided an infantry company for force-on-force work.
The experiments originally were scheduled to begin in March 2020, but were delayed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Lara said.
The next steps include a potential contract award for a “live, virtual, constructed” environment that could bridge simulations like virtual reality, with the force-on-force trainer. That contract could be awarded by the end of 2021. (Source: Defense News)
28 Jul 21. Submarines sneak-up on surface ships at Talisman Sabre. Royal Australian Navy submarines HMA Ships Collins and Rankin were on the prowl to disrupt surface ship operations during a series of attack and interdiction missions. The subs leveraged advanced sensor and sonar technology to avoid detection and track targets.
According to the Royal Australian Navy’s Captain Peter Bartlett, TS21 Maritime Response Cell, submarines are a very dangerous adversary when positioned well.
“It does not mean the submarine will always win. There are ways to defeat submarines through manoeuvring and employment of air and surface assets,” CAPT Bartlett said.
As part of the opposing force for a portion of TS21, subs conducted sea-denial operations against the allied fleet, limiting their freedom of movement on the water’s surface.
This forced surface elements to undertake what CAPT Bartlett referred to as the most complex type of maritime warfare – anti-submarine operations.
“That’s because of the environment and the capabilities of modern submarines,” CAPT Bartlett said.
“Much of the training is based around the employment of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, as well as surface ships.”
CAPT Bartlett added that anti-submarine warfare was something surface elements had to perform over extended periods to keep adversaries at bay, with difficulty depending on a variety of conditions.
“It all depends on the environment and the water in which you operate,” he said.
Submarines also conducted sub-versus-sub training.
The exercise included time to debrief the submarine teams after each serial and apply what they had learned.
“You cannot simulate the anti-submarine warfare training environment to the same extent without [other submarines],” CAPT Bartlett said.
“You need a submarine with the thinking, reacting crew to train against.”
A US submarine also contributed to the sub-surface training scenario. (Source: Defence Connect)
28 Jul 21. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Richmond takes part in a successful maritime exercise in the Andaman Sea with HTMS Kraburi of the Royal Thai Navy. On 24th July, HMS Richmond, one of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s escort ships in the CSG, took part of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with HTMS Kraburi of the Royal Thai Navy in the Andaman Sea.
A truly global journey in support of the ‘Indo-Pacific Tilt’:
On 23rd of May 2021, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), led by HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden operational deployment departed Portsmouth Naval Base at the beginning of a truly global journey. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy Upon its return later in the year, the CSG will have sailed 26,000 nautical miles from the North Atlantic, to the Philippine sea and back, passing through the the Indo-Pacific region and engaging with more than 40 countries.
On 24th July, the British Embassy Bangkok welcomed HMS Richmond to Thailand. One of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s escort ships in the CSG, HMS Richmond took part of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG), in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with HTMS Kraburi of the Royal Thai Navy in the Andaman Sea. The visit to Thailand is evidence of the UK’s so called ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ aimed at establishing a stronger presence and a deeper engagement with countries within the region.
Particularly for Thailand, our trade and investment relations is stronger than ever with the signing of a new joint trade dialogue – The Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) earlier in March. HMS Richmond’s visit demonstrates our commitment to ensuring a free and open Asia Pacific which is a foundation of closer bilateral trade between our two maritime trading nations.
The embodiment of maritime technological excellence:
HMS Richmond embodies the unique display of the state-of-the-art systems and operational capabilities of the British Defence Industry’s technologies, and showcase the frigate’s power, versatility, and capability to operate anywhere in the world.
A resemblance of the UK’s long and successful naval history can be observed throughout each component aboard HMS Richmond. For example, its state-of-the-art anti-submarine equipment (VDS Sonar 2087 commonly known as Captas-4) and the complete suite of Naval Communication Systems by Thales. The Thales Sonar 2087 provides a unique combination of active and low frequency passive sonar and gives the Royal Navy a unique advantage in detecting underwater threats at distance while maintaining stealth capabilities. Combined with the AW159 FLASH dipping sonar and Lightweight Multirole Missiles (LMM) this provides a powerful system for the detection classification, location, tracking and attack of hostile submarines, and missile defence against air and sea borne threats.
The INTeACT Combat Management System on board is provided by BAE Systems to support warship crews with all the information they need to track, analyse and respond to threats in combat, as well as the ability to co-ordinate resources in other operations such as intelligence gathering and humanitarian assistance, both independently or as part of multinational coalitions. In addition, its BAE Systems Artisan 3D Surveillance Radar is capable of detecting objects as small as a tennis ball travelling at three times the speed of sound more than 25km away. Artisan can monitor more than 900 objects simultaneously from 200 to 200,000 metres and cut through radio interference equal to 10,000 mobile phone signals.
HMS Richmond’s hybrid propulsion system is powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C marine gas turbines and four MTU 12V 4000 M53 diesel generators in a CODAG (Combined Diesel Electric & Gas) propulsion arrangement. The on-board Wildcat Maritime Attack helicopter is the latest generation of multi-role helicopters powered by two LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engines
On board the ship, The AW-159 Wildcat Helicopter is the latest-generation multi-mission, high-end war-fighting helicopter, delivering unparalleled tactical capability in a compact and robust air vehicle, manufactured by Leonardo UK. The helicopter has been designed from concept as a multi-role naval helicopter with excellent Ship-to-Air Interface characteristics and compact dimensions for small deck operations.
A longstanding history of Naval Engineering Experience in Thailand:
For at least of half a century, British naval technologies has been at the forefront of supporting the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) fleets.
“Thales’ partnership with the Royal Thai Armed Forces dates back over 50 years, and today we are proud to say that our systems and solutions equip 80% of the Royal Thai Navy’s fleet. Just two years ago, we successfully completed a full modernisation of the Bang Rachan minehunter vessels, helping enhance and extend the lifespan of their operational capabilities with solutions originating from Thales UK. The breadth of our technologies showcased onboard the HMS Richmond is a strong testament of Thales’ leading prowess in the naval domain, and I am optimistic that these solutions can similarly be implemented with great success onboard the RTN’s fleet.” said Massimo Marinzi, Country Director, Thales in Thailand.
Rolls-Royce has a growing presence in Thailand and across the defence industry. Looking to the future, Rolls-Royce in Thailand will continue to work closely with the Royal Thai Armed Forces, supply chain vendors and the local industries and communities to provide the power to protect. Through the development of innovative technologies and continuous provision of support for its customers’ fleets, Rolls-Royce continues to deliver the cleanest, safest and most competitive solutions for the planet’s vital power needs.
BAE Systems UK is proud to support the strong defence relationship and cooperation that exists between the UK and Thailand. This is shown by the Royal Thai Navy operating two BAE Systems designed 90m Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), based on the River Class OPVs currently operated by the Royal Thai Navy. The construction of the Royal Thai Navy OPVs in Thailand by The Bangkok Dock Company has made a major contribution to the growth of local naval engineering skills and capabilities, and in turn strengthened the Thai defence industry and wider Thai economy.
The longstanding history of British Naval Engineering is clearly going strong as we welcome the proximity of the Carrier Strike Group to Thailand as a symbol of our mutual commitment to a free and open Asia Pacific with all the benefits that affords to share regional and global security and prosperity.
Colonel Tony Stern, Defence Attaché, British Embassy Bangkok, said, “The recent successful exercise of HMS Richmond and HTMS Kraburi highlights the importance and strength of the UK’s long-standing defence and security relationship with Thailand. The Carrier Strike Group showcases the UK Defence Industry’s world-class capabilities, and the UK will continue to support closer and stronger collaboration with Thailand and other ASEAN nations on defence and security matters.”
About the UK Defence and Security Exports: UK Defence and Security Exports is part of the Department for International Trade. We are responsible for:
- Helping UK defence and security industries to export their capabilities by offering specialist support and market intelligence.
- Maintaining relationships with overseas governments to promote British defence and security products.
- Working with MOD and industry to ensure defence and security products have export potential and contribute towards the UK’s prosperity agenda. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
29 Jul 21. Success in Indonesia market from delivering multiple BMT REMBRANDT® simulators leads to first contract award for Sabah Borneo.
- Widespread adoption of BMT’s scalable REMBRANDT® simulators present opportunities in fast-growing Southeast Asia’s economies investing in state-of-art maritime training facilities.
- The surge in navigation training and new enabling technologies, the rise in maritime compliance regulations, growing adoption of virtualisation and cloud, and increased levels of investment across Southeast Asia in the maritime sector are major drivers augmenting the growth of this market. Further, widespread adoption of IoT and cloud services, paired with ongoing technological advancements in GIS navigation, hydrographic and military domains, is generating numerous opportunities for this market’s expansion.
BMT will deliver its first REMBRANDT® DNV Class A, B and C Full Mission Bridge Simulator at a Maritime Academy in Sabah Borneo, following a successful roll out of the technology to numerous academies across the Indonesian market. The new simulator will be powered by the BMT flagship REMBRANDT® technology to provide maritime training and realistic simulation experiences to students, instructors and operators. Other ancillary technical courses that will form part of the education and training specified by the new contracted facility are Bridge Team Management and specialist manoeuvring procedures including Ship to Ship (STS) transfer operations and Digital Forensics.
Dr Phil Thompson, Director of Maritime Simulation, Training and Surveys Systems at BMT, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sabah Borneo and the leading maritime academies in the region for trusted, world-class simulation and training solutions that will bring tremendous leverage to their trainees.
“With our first REMBRANDT® entry into Sabah Borneo, on the back of multiple contract wins in Indonesia, this build-up in regional scalable contracts represents a holistic training approach, which we expect to see more in future. The flagship technology and its digitised range of maritime education and training offerings goes above and beyond Class A, B and C requirements to include Bridge Team Management and other specialist applications including STS transfer operations and Digital Forensics.” added Thompson.
The REMBRANDT® suite of products, which also includes modern software applications such as Desktop ‘S’ Simulators, are already popular in the Indonesian market. Used by many local maritime academies, the product line is mature, proven and diversified. These factors have been key to this technology’s global expansion strategy which has also benefited from being under constant development for the last 30 years.
As a multi-disciplinary training product renowned for its realism it allows trainees to build their skills in many practical ways that will ultimately bring several core and adjacent market training requirements under one roof. The consolidated training package from BMT addresses the commercial training needs for first responders and maritime training solutions for the civilian and military maritime industries.
The BMT simulator’s fully functioning bridge is surrounded by up to 360-degree simulated field of view. Equipped with a suite of flexible editor tools, the REMBRANDT® simulator enables students, instructors and operators to quickly and easily prepare training scenarios and manage exercises in real-time. Easily adaptable and scalable to specific training needs, the simulators can train large numbers of trainees simultaneously and provides the highest level of graphical detail and realism. This includes recent upgrades including cloud-based simulator operations – referencing the first-ever remote, simulator-based ship navigation training programme for multiple training stakeholders that BMT launched in conjunction with its US-based partner, SeaChange Resources, last month https://www.bmt.org/news/2021/bmt-rembrandt-in-the-clouds/.
The REMBRANDT® suite of Full Mission Bridge and Desktop Simulators will allow maritime training academies to expand their training curriculums with IMO and DNV certified simulator training courses, enabling organisations and academies across Southeast Asia and other regions investing in state-of-art maritime training facilities to meet their training goals for highly qualified seafarers.
29 Jul 21. RAN’s HMAS Melville personnel lay two inert minefields. The laying of the minefields was carried out as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 21. Personnel from the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Leeuwin-class hydrographic survey ship HMAS Melville has conducted mine-laying mission off the coast of Townsville, Queensland. The crew used a crane to lay two inert minefields. This is the first time that the personnel have been exposed to such a mission. Carried out as part of exercise Talisman Sabre (TS21), the activity provided them with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of mine-laying operations. The minefields laying work involved craning eight inert or ‘dummy’ mines of various shapes, sizes and weights. Military survey and geospatial intelligence gathering operations form the core capability of HMAS Melville.
According to RAN Lieutenant Commander Adrian Eddy, laying mines require innovation and adaptability from the crew.
Eddy said: “Leeuwin-class hydrographic ships have never conducted mine-laying before, so effectively executing this tasking moves us closer to the development of underwater mastery.”
The crew successfully laid all eight mine shapes in two days as the weather conditions were favourable for laying.
According to a statement released by Australian Department of Defence, units were then tasked with locating and disposing of the inert sea mines.
The units worked in open waters and at a nearby fishing area to clear the minefield to allow hassle-free passage of the allied task group.
The Talisman Sabre exercise will run until 31 July.
It is designed to enhance the interoperability between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the US Armed Forces.
More than 17,000 troops are taking part in the multi-domain exercise. (Source: naval-technology.com)
29 Jul 21. Exercise Tests DOD’s Integrated Deterrence. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, today briefed the news media on Global Information Dominance Experiment 3, which took place July 8-15. The experiment focused on a peer competitor and centered a lot on contested logistics in scenarios where lines of communication — such as the Panama Canal — were challenged, he said without going into specifics since much of the experiment is classified.
GIDE 3 enabled the department to rapidly collaborate with all 11 combatant commands and across the department to see pertinent data and information, using a variety of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
GIDE 3 tested the Defense Department’s domain awareness, integrated deterrence, information dominance and decision-making superiority, he said. “Integrated deterrence is about using the right mix of technology, operational concepts and capabilities, all woven together in a networked way so that it is credible, flexible and formidable, [and that it] will give any adversary pause, especially to think about attacking our homeland,” VanHerck said.
The experiment also tested how the department uses information and data to increase decision space for leaders from the tactical level to the strategic level, he added.
Another goal of the experiment, he said, is creating global integration, shifting the department away from today’s regionally focused plans and strategies.
The experiment also focuses on finding ways to change how the department executes force management and force design paradigms, as well as budgetary and acquisition processes, he added.
“We’re shifting our focus away from pure defeat mechanisms for homeland defense toward earlier ‘deter and deny’ actions,” he said. VanHerck also added that the experiment spurred the department to find ways to enable faster decisions and provide more options by making new technologies more accessible.
“Right now, the threats we face and the pace of change in the geostrategic environment continues to advance at really alarming rates. We’ve entered an era of new and renewed strategic competition, and this time we’re facing two peer competitors — both nuclear armed — that are competing against us on a daily basis,” he said.
“We must outpace our competitors by accelerating our own efforts to transform our culture, including factoring in homeland defense into every strategy, every plan, force management, force design decision, as well as aspects of acquisition and budget,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
27 Jul 21. DOD rolls out AR/VR technology at 5G testbed. The Defense Department has begun to roll out 5G-powered augmented reality/virtual reality systems at some of its 5G testbed sites, which are part of a broader $600m initiative to expand DOD’s 5G capabilities that was first announced in October 2020. GBL Systems Corp. and Samsung will demonstrate 5G-enabled AR/VR versions of live field military training exercises in which users will interact with virtual obstacles found in the combat theatre and see overlays of data and instruments on the physical environment. The technology aims to advance mission planning, make training more accessible and improve operations.
Multiple trainees will be able to interact with the digital environment simultaneously, viewing real-time overlays of data onto the physical environment with their AR/VR goggles. Testing will begin initially in a lab setting, but then the pilot will use Samsung’s mid-band radios to expand capacity to a brigade-level of soldiers.
While GBL will be responsible for the prototype creation and technology integration, Samsung will provide access to its network of 5G products — its Massive MIMO Radios, cloud-native 5G stand-alone core and Galaxy 5G mobile devices — and technical expertise.
The testing process will allow DOD to work with the two companies to verify the deployment of a scalable, resilient and secure 5G network for AR/VR-based mission planning and training, Samsung officials said.
“This effort has the potential to revolutionize how the DoD performs distributed training exercises that are more combat-like to significantly advance warfighter readiness,” GBL CEO Jim Buscemi said. (Source: Defense Systems)
27 Jul 21. UK Carrier Strike Group conducts exercise with Republic of Singapore Navy. The UK Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, has transited through Singapore waters and will return later this year. Ships from the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, performed an exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) yesterday (26 July).
The exercise, to advance interoperability and coordination between the two navies, builds on the deep and long-standing defence partnership between the UK and Singapore.
It was also the first time that ships from the Royal Navy’s 5th generation Carrier Strike Group exercised alongside the RSN.
Eight ships were involved in yesterday’s exercise:
- HMS Queen Elizabeth, aircraft carrier
- HMS Kent, Type 23 anti-submarine frigate
- HNLMS Evertsen, De Zeven Provicien-class frigate (Royal Netherlands Navy)
- USS The Sullivans, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (US Navy)
- RFA Tidespring, Fast Fleet Tanker
- RSS Intrepid Formidable-class frigate (Republic of Singapore Navy)
- RSS Unity Independence-class littoral mission vessel (Republic of Singapore Navy)
- RSS Resolution Endurance-class landing ship tank (Republic of Singapore Navy)
The Strike Group, which set off on its maiden deployment in May this year and has successfully conducted operations and engagements in the Mediterranean, is now in the Indo-Pacific.
The purpose-built aircraft carrier replenishment ship, RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Tidespring broke away from the main group on Friday (23 July) for a quick and contactless replenishment pit-stop in Singapore. She will now sustain the group as it proceeds further east.
The Group will next undertake a series of multinational exercises with global allies in the Philippine Sea. Later in the year, the Carrier Strike Group will return to Singapore.
A ship from the Group will also take part in Exercise Bersama Gold – with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand – this will mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, said, “The Royal Navy has huge affection for Singapore based on our history together, but Singapore is also a beacon of enterprise in a region that is growing in strategic importance. The arrival of the Carrier Strike Group in Southeast Asia is a clear sign that the United Kingdom is ready to work with friends and partners, new and old, to strengthen the security and freedoms upon which we mutually depend.
We are grateful to Singapore for supporting an important logistics stop for RFA Tidespring as the Carrier Strike Group continues our programme at sea. We look forward to working with Singapore again in the autumn for Exercise Bersama Gold, which marks the 50th Anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.”
Her Excellency, Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore, said, “The Carrier Strike Group’s presence is another element of our strategic approach to the Southeast Asia region, alongside our engagement with ASEAN and our activity in support of trade and economic development.
We welcome Singapore’s support for the Carrier Strike Group’s deployment to the region. Our joint exercise showcases our navies’ ability to operate effectively together, underscoring the deep and strong defence and security partnership.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 Jul 21. Russia moves equipment away from training ground near Ukrainian border. Video footage and imagery sourced from social media and analysed by Janes between 13 July and 21 July appears to show that Russia has begun to withdraw equipment from a training ground in Voronezh, close to the Ukrainian border.
The equipment, which is assessed by Janes to belong to the Central Military District’s 41 st Combined Arms Army, was deployed over thousands of kilometres from central Russia to Voronezh during a buildup of forces in March and April. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on 22 April that the 41 st Combined Arms Army’s equipment would not return to central Russia until after it took part in ‘Zapad-2021′, a large-scale Western Military District exercise scheduled to take place in September.
Videos and images analysed by Janes were all captured in the immediate vicinity of Maslovka railway station – one of the primary stations used by Russian forces to deliver equipment to the Pogonovo training ground during the March-April buildup. Two additional stations, Tresvyatskaya and Kolodeznaya, were also used to move equipment into Pogonovo, but as of 21 July Janes has not identified any movement out of these stations.
Videos and images posted to social media by multiple users on13 and 14 July show around 20 T-72-type main battle tanks, BAT-2 engineering vehicles, an MTU-72 armoured bridgelayer, and Borisoglebsk-2 electronic warfare systems either being loaded onto trains or parked next to the tracks at Maslovka. Meanwhile, images posted on 20 July show BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, 2S3 self-propelled howitzers, and Borisoglebsk-2 systems onboard trains at Maslovka, and at least three TOS-1A thermobaric multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), three TZM transloaders, three BM-21 Grad MRLs, and three MT-LB armoured personnel carriers parked next to the tracks, likely waiting to board trains. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Jul 21. UK establishes permanent military training team in Western Balkans. UK Ambassador Rachel Galloway signed an agreement to set up the Western Balkans Land Regional Coordination Cell in North Macedonia to coordinate UK training in the region. The UK has set up a permanent military team in North Macedonia, marking a new level of defence cooperation with partners in the Western Balkans.
An agreement was signed today in the Skopje, North Macedonia, by UK Ambassador Rachel Galloway and the Defence Minister for North Macedonia Radmila Shekerinska, establishing a Western Balkans Land Regional Coordination Cell.
The cell will involve a small military team coordinating and channelling UK training into the region. This will focus UK capacity-building efforts and enhance cooperation between UK and partner forces in the region. It will also improve the coordination of partnered military training and enable the UK to better understand and support the training requirements of our defence partners.
The cell will be based in North Macedonia, NATO’s newest ally which joined in March 2020, and will support them and other regional NATO partners in meeting capability targets associated with NATO membership.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said, “The agreement signed today underlines the UK’s commitment to enhancing cooperation with our partners in the Western Balkans and takes our defence relationship with our friends there to a new level. We look forward to working closer than ever to ensure security in this important region.”
One function of the newly established permanent cell will be to coordinate UK support to North Macedonia in the delivery of a light Infantry Battalion at readiness for NATO operations next year.
The recently published Defence Command Paper outlined that in an age of global and systemic competition, our Armed Forces will be persistently globally engaged with partners around the world. The paper also stated the UK’s commitment to working closely with partners in the Western Balkans to maintain and promote regional and international peace and security, demonstrated by a recent visit to Montenegro by Minister of State for Defence Baroness Goldie. The Western Balkans Land Regional Coordination Cell will support UK Defence in realising this ambition.
23 Jul 21. Camcopter has Eyes in the Sky During Talisman Sabre. Apart from an MH-60R helicopter, HMAS Ballarat also carries an S-100 Schiebel Camcopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle that offers enhanced surveillance capability at sea.
A small detachment from 822X Squadron at the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Air Arm is conducting trials with the 3.1-m long rotorcraft as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre (TS21).
Remote Pilot Warfare Officer Lieutenant Jack Parsey said the S-100 provided Ballarat’s command team with a highly flexible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in real-time.
“The S-100 can be used for a number of activities, such as search and rescue, tactical maritime operations, and overwatch for the ship’s boarding party,” Lieutenant Parsey said. “A major advantage of the S-100 is that the vision it captures can be live-fed straight back to the operations room providing a real-time tactical picture.”
Attention is also being paid to how the S-100 can operate in conjunction with the MH-60R to multiply overall aerial capability.
“Manned/unmanned teaming is the phrase that has been given to this sort of aircraft-to-aircraft partnership,” Lieutenant Parsey said.
“For instance, the helicopter may spot a vessel of interest while on patrol, the details of which can be relayed to the ship, at which time the S-100 can be deployed to take over the surveillance.
“The S-100 can then stay on-station for longer than traditional aircraft, thanks to its endurance capability.”
Commanding Officer Ballarat Commander Antony Pisani said TS21 had been a good opportunity to inject the S-100 into a sea combat environment.
“One of our tasks during Talisman Sabre has been to hunt submarines in our area of operation to disrupt the enemy force within the exercise,” Commander Pisani said.
“Our MH-60R is designed for that purpose, but the S-100 boosts our ability to search for submarines and track their periscopes until the helicopter can respond.
“That additional situational awareness makes us a more potent unit overall and increases our fighting edge.” (Source: ASD Network/ MoD Australia)
23 Jul 21. British Army aims for entirely new collective training capability. The British Army intends to transform its collective training capability, including by adopting an industry partner to help resource and deliver training. Lieutenant Colonel Jes Giles, SO1 Training Capability, Strategy Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP) at Headquarters British Army, speaking at the Omega Joint Military and Simulation conference in Bristol, explained that the CTTP is a “holistic programme on how collective training will be delivered in the British Army out to beyond 2035”. It is to transform collective training “to match evermore complex threats above and below the threshold of conflict enabled by dynamic exploitation of training data, immersive environments, and hard-wired flexibility”, he said. He noted that the army’s current systems are products of historical methods of designing and deploying equipment and training. These are now increasingly constraining as there is little scope for evolution, he said, so a complete transformation is needed. Lt Col Giles explained the programme has two major elements: transforming the training enterprise and transforming the training experience. The former includes the training system, connectivity, and data exploitation. The training system includes the ability to design training, understand its objectives, and deliver it in flexible ways. On connectivity he said that currently there are many stovepiped and inefficient networks. “We need a coherent and unified vision for connectivity that provides harmonisation of all the elements that make up a training event: data capture, the observer/controller/mentor, and the simulation systems.” That would enable the training data to be exploited. Plenty of data is captured at present, he said, but better exploitation would allow “everything from richer after-action reviews right up to informing warfare development”. (Source: Jane’s)
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