12 Aug 21. Global exercise to test US Navy’s live, virtual and constructive training environment. The Large Scale Exercise 2021 taking place across the globe is meant to validate the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps’ new operating concepts — but it’ll also be the biggest test yet of a live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training framework that has never been asked to connect so many players around the planet in real time.
The LSE 21 exercise, which kicked off Aug. 3, includes 25,000 participants across 17 time zones — some at the tactical level on 25 ships at sea or at the pier, some at the headquarters level in Navy maritime operations centers or Marine Corps combat operations centers ashore and some in the middle at task groups and strike groups scattered around the world.
For the first time ever, these echelons are coming together in a single training event that, in real time, pushes the individual sailor in a combat information center just as hard as it pushes the four-star admiral trying to maneuver multiple battle groups. It’s enabled by the Navy Continuous Training Environment web of technologies.
The LVC exercise scenario originates from the Navy Center for Advanced Modeling and Simulation, located at the Navy Warfare Development Command headquarters here at Naval Station Norfolk. The participants will be linked together as the two-week exercise unfolds.
Though Navy leaders declined to discuss the details of the scenario, it will include a buildup of tensions into a crisis and the eruption of war, in such a way that forces in the Atlantic, Pacific and Europe all have to sense their environments, track potential threats and communicate to the four-star commander about how they are seeing the crisis unfold from their vantage points. The admirals can then use the assets in their theaters to conduct the war fight — the best sensors and the best shooters, under the distributed maritime operations concept — within the LVC setup.
The Navy has spent the last several years moving from an outdated and stovepiped simulator training construct that focused on single platforms — a flight simulator for just one type of airplane, or an Aegis Combat System trainer for one or two warfare areas on a surface combatant — to a comprehensive network of ships, simulators and laboratories that can play together in complex training scenarios.
For LVC to be successful and cost-effective, all the pieces must come together: 130 surface ships and 11 training ranges are now outfitted for LVC training as the live piece; more than 70 aircraft simulators allow real people in fake airplanes to play in the scenario as the virtual piece; and 14 simulation sites and battle labs can insert constructive, or computer-generated, forces into the scenario to add complexity.
Vice Adm. Jim Kilby, the deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, told reporters training events earlier in his career would rely on Learjets with pods that would make them appear as incoming missiles on a ship’s radar, for example. If a shipboard operator didn’t respond correctly, if the pod malfunctioned or if the jet needed to refuel, a whole day’s worth of training could be ruined. Multiply that by the 25 ships that are participating in LSE 21 globally, and it’s hard to imagine doing an exercise of this scale in a live-only manner.
With LVC, though, dozens or hundreds of incoming missiles can be simulated without the cost or logistics of flying the Learjets.
“That’s the technology piece that we’re building up that has been really limited, limited in my lifetime,” Kilby said. “Certainly in the last five years, it’s grown to allow us to stimulate those conditions that we think we need to because of what we think the adversary will do. That would be very expensive for us to do in a live manner, so to me, all this connectivity” is the only way the Navy can accurately rehearse distributed maritime operations.
Ron Keter, who serves as the technical director for Large Scale Exercise 2021, told reporters the Navy chose to create a single LVC training environment for tactical training — preparing ships and units to deploy — as well as operational-level exercises to train fleet headquarters staffs.
By having this single LVC environment, he said, participants at all levels can be put through their paces during LSE 21.
Headquarters staff training
Staff training exercises run the risk of being over-scripted at times: tabletop events often precede live exercises, with the staffs being tested and certified first and then the ships and planes conducting the live exercise somewhat separately.
In that way, Large Scale Exercise 2021 will put more pressure on the admirals than a typical exercise. Rather than following a script, they’ll have to adjust to what subordinate commands decide to do during the live drills and even to mistakes that individual sailors make.
A sailor on a cruiser who misreads a potential air target, leading to the ship shooting down a plane that poses no threat, for example, or not shooting down a target that goes on to take out a U.S. aircraft carrier, could change the trajectory of the whole event. The four-star admirals at U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Europe, along with their staffs, will have to roll with the punches in this LVC exercise in a way they might not be used to.
Rear Adm. Doug Beal, the vice commander of Fleet Forces who is serving as the exercise director, said having 25,000 live players makes the exercise “tremendously complex” for the decision-makers at the top, who must make strategic decisions based on what’s being reported up the echelons by sailors in real time.
LSE 21 also includes a group of retired flag and general officers who will be playing the roles of combatant commanders and Pentagon leadership, Beal said, forcing the admirals to practice communicating with joint staff and civilian leadership in the heat of war.
Kilby said this type of training event is well matched to how he expects the Navy to fight in the future under distributed maritime operations.
Fleet commanders will have to control the carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, surface action groups and others in their area of operations, leveraging sensors and weapons across these strike groups to be most effective. They’ll also have to be careful that the adversary can’t exploit seams between the numbered fleets, meaning the admirals will have to talk to each other, too, during this global event.
“This is complex. Integrated fires, which is what we’re talking about, in distributed maritime operations, which is where the adversary is going, requires varsity-level execution,” Kilby said.
Strike group training
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, which deployed on Aug. 2, is among the strike groups participating live in LSE 21. Strike group commander Rear Adm. Dan Martin told Defense News in a phone interview that strike groups used to conduct fleet battle problems, which were high-end events but left the strike group commander as the ultimate authority making decisions about the war fight.
“The fleet battle problem really focused on the strike group commander … so that he or she alone could employ their strike group as they saw fit,” Martin said. “Now what we have to do is demonstrate the fact that we have assured command-and-control because we need that to get after the real problem here, [which] is integrating all the sensors that we have across these brand-new ships and brand-new aircraft, and we can make them all sync up to get the best information possible and synchronize the war fight.”
“The way I look at it is that we have shifted focus from the individual carrier strike group to a larger fleet-centered approach. So we’re changing fleet commanders’ abilities to make decisions at a faster speed, better accuracy that outpaces our adversaries,” Martin continued. “It’s leveraging the integrated fighting power of multiple naval forces to share their sensors, their weapons, their platforms across all the domains in a contested environment.”
With the Vinson strike group conducting LSE 21 as its very first mission on deployment, Martin said he’s confident he has a well trained carrier strike group. The focus of their participation can be falling into the larger fleet construct that is new under distributed maritime operations, he said.
At the ship level, participating in LSE 21 allows for “reps and sets” against sophisticated targets, said Capt. Chris Marvin, the commanding officer of cruiser San Jacinto.
With his cruiser tied to the pier and undergoing maintenance ahead of an upcoming deployment with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, that’s not something his sailors would be receiving without LSE 21 and the LVC underpinnings.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly in the long run, it’s helping his sailors see the bigger picture in an environment where no one can get hurt. During operations at sea, a strike group commander could go to the cruiser and ask for information about a potential air threat. In the old construct, the cruiser can either identify the object with its sensors or it can’t; the determination affects the course of action the strike group commander takes.
But under distributed maritime operations, Marvin said, there may be a third option — that the ship crew thinks they understand what the object is, but they request the fleet commander give them access to additional information from a sensor on another ship in the theater or from a joint or national asset like a satellite.
“If I don’t know what those tools are, I can’t use them effectively,” he added. “This allows me to interface with those tools” and learn to consider them in a training environment.
If the goal is to cut through the fog of war and create more fog for the adversary, then LSE 21 will go a long way in helping individual ships learn what and how to communicate up the chain of command to create the clearest operating picture, Marvin said. This exercise and its fleet-level focus will help each ship learn what information is needed higher up, how to communicate it, and what to do if the adversary knocks out a preferred method of communication.
“The ability to do that seamlessly and quickly to keep the fog at bay is what wins the fight.”
Future LVC investments
Since 2012, the Navy has brought its Fleet Synthetic Training capability from a pierside-only tool to offering afloat training opportunities for ships on deployment or in pre-deployment workups. In this way, trainers ashore can send virtual and constructive threats to the ship’s combat systems via the Navy Enterprise Tactical Training Network, allowing them to face off against more complex threats than the Navy could field for a typical training event.
While naval aviation can play in the LVC training today in a limited manner — jets in the air can be made to resemble adversary planes on a ship’s radar or they can be augmented by constructive planes to create a bigger formation for a ship to contend with — there’s still work to do to fully incorporate them in the Navy Continuous Training Environment. Virtual and constructive actors can’t be piped into the cockpit today so while a Navy pilot can be a part of a more complex training scenario for the ship, that pilot isn’t receiving a more complex picture to respond to.
Keter said the ability to stimulate an aircraft’s sensors and pipe virtual and constructive forces into the cockpit’s displays will be the focus of investments in fiscal 2022 through 2027. Additionally, the Navy wants to integrate the information warfare domain into its LVC network through investments in this five-year period.
John Hefti, the director of fleet and joint training at Fleet Forces, told reporters one of the benefits of this exercise would be “taking a position fix on where we are with LVC because that’s going to inform our future investments. … So we are testing our training architecture while we’re doing this exercise.”
Previously, Hefti said, the Navy conducted LVC training events with forces stateside and in Europe, for example, or at home and in the Western Pacific. But this is the first time forces around the entire globe are being pulled into the same scenario in real time, in a test of the network’s bandwidth.
Keter also said LSE 21 pushes the limits of the Navy’s ability to support LVC training for ships in the open ocean, rather than in instrumented training ranges close to home. Lessons learned by straining the LVC training environment — as well as experimenting with a few cockpit technologies that could meet the Navy’s near-term needs — will inform investment plans in the next few budget cycles. (Source: Defense News)
09 Aug 21. China, Russia look to deepen military-technical ties. China and Russia are preparing to participate in joint military exercises during 9–13 August, an event that aims to support military-technical co-operation between the two countries.
The ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021′ drills in Ningxia, north-central China – in which 13,000 troops and more than 400 military platforms from both sides will participate – are being held against a backdrop of expanding bilateral military collaboration.
In late July, China and Russia outlined a commitment to strengthen military-technology ties, with such efforts expected to be framed around a new military co-operation accord.
This anticipated agreement – reportedly under discussion – would replace a road map signed in 2017, but which expired in 2020, that was partly focused on supporting Russian exports and related technology collaboration.
Contracts supported through this road map included Russian sales – signed in 2014 and 2015 – to deliver to China six batteries of the Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumph air defence system and 24 Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter aircraft. In 2019 Russia also secured a deal to supply about 100 Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’ transport helicopters to China.
These three deals supported strong growth in Russian defence deliveries to China between 2015 and 2018. However, the volume of Russian sales to China is now on a downward slope, and without new orders, or new areas of collaboration, Moscow’s exports may decline rapidly over the coming few years. It is this decline that the anticipated military-technical accord will seek to address. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Aug 21. Babcock Canada and Leonardo Canada join forces to support the country’s Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) program. Babcock and Leonardo, two leading international aerospace, defence and security organisations and military training providers, are pleased to announce today the signing of a Teaming Agreement that will see Babcock Canada and Leonardo Canada come together to provide a solution for Canada’s Future Aircrew Training program.
With this important step, Babcock and Leonardo will combine their globally recognized expertise and experience in delivering military aircrew training and will create a new joint-venture called Babcock Leonardo Canadian Aircrew Training.
With the team’s far-reaching know-how and deep ties to Canada’s military, Babcock and Leonardo can provide an innovative training solution, and optimal benefits to Canada’s economic and strategic goals through the FAcT program.
Babcock and Leonardo can offer a modern, comprehensive solution based on their extensive experience as a leading provider of fixed-wing, rotary-wing and mission training civil and military services. The new team is ready to invest in the Country and working collaboratively with Indigenous partners and communities.
Jana Lee Murray, Babcock Leonardo Canadian Aircrew Training – Program Director, stated: “By coming together, Babcock Canada and Leonardo Canada are able to leverage their combined extensive global military aircrew training expertise and develop a tailored solution to meet the Royal Canadian Air Force’s needs.”
“We are strongly committed to working with our supply chain, communities, and Indigenous partners adding value to Canada now and in the future. We are fully prepared to provide a completely integrated, end- to-end military training solution that will generate a robust and efficient flow of Canadian military pilots and personnel.”
With significant experience in building and managing comprehensive training systems for customers around the world, the new Canadian team will enable the development of modern and scalable military training infrastructure that will leverage a solid supply chain founded and based in Canada.
11 Aug 21. SEACAT 21 annual multilateral exercise begins in Singapore. A total of 21 Indo-Pacific partner nations are taking part in the training exercise. The 20th annual multilateral exercise Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) has started in Singapore and virtually.
The exercise involves the participation of ten ships and more than 400 personnel from 21 Indo-Pacific partner nations.
Participating countries include Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, the US, Thailand, and Vietnam.
SEACAT is aimed at improving regional cooperation to deal with mutual maritime security challenges, such as piracy, smuggling, and other illegal activities at sea.
It involves the use of regular maritime strategies, methods, and procedures.
US 7th Fleet commander vice admiral Karl Thomas said: “In this region, the strength of our partnerships matter and our ability and willingness to work together is paramount.
“This year’s SEACAT aims to enhance our interoperability as we address our shared maritime security concerns and preserve rules-based international order.”
In addition, the exercise is designed to improve the maritime forces’ operational environment understanding and develop ability to conduct humanitarian support operations.
During the exercise, all existing maritime domain awareness (MDA) tools, including Singapore’s Information Fusion Centre, will be used by the participating nations to share information, as well as for crisis communication and coordination.
Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 commander captain Tom Ogden said: “The scenarios are designed to encourage countries to work together though maritime domain awareness assets to better understand operations and adherence to international norms.
“Practicing multilateral, multi-platform intercepts help our Southeast Asian partners prepare for possible real-world engagements in the future.”
USS Tulsa (LCS 16), DESRON 7 staff, Task Force 72’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and personnel from Task Forces 73, 76, US 7th Fleet, and US Pacific Fleet are representing the US Navy. (Source: naval-technology.com)
09 Aug 21. QinetiQ, the global integrated defence and security company, has once again supported and hosted At Sea Demonstration/Formidable Shield (ASD/FS) the latest US-led NATO training exercise at MOD Hebrides, Scotland. Responsible for modernising the base to enable the exercise to take place, QinetiQ worked closely with international partners within NATO and made a significant contribution to allies’ abilities to deliver against future threats.
Following the last Formidable Shield exercise in 2019, QinetiQ was tasked with upgrading many of the facilities within the MOD Hebrides range in advance of this year’s exercise. A significant number of USA-funded infrastructure investments were delivered, including the building of a new Ammunition Processing Building. Additionally, an existing launch pad was refurbished and upgraded to support the firing of the new GQM Coyote supersonic sea skimming target which was used in the training exercise. This was both the first time the target had been launched from UK soil and that NATO allies had the ability to experience and test their combat responses to it.
Over 3,300 personnel, 16 ships, and 31 aircraft joined together from 10 NATO nations to take part in the U.S. SIXTH Fleet and Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum’s (MTMD-F) ASD/FS21. Participants from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, worked together to test their ability to track, identify and ultimately destroy incoming threats, including testing Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD).
“The event was an overwhelming success on many levels, delivering many strategic and operational benefits that strengthened the defence and security of the UK and our NATO partner Nations. This exercise was truly a step-change in complexity and breadth from the previous Formidable Shield exercises, and the geographic split of the exercise between the MOD Hebrides and Norwegian Andoya Space Centre represented a realistic ‘fight tonight’ scenario of long-range offensive Anti-Surface Warfare combined with defensive Anti-Air Warfare of a multinational Maritime Task Group. In effect, all the nations taking part were able to train as they would fight and demonstrate seamless interoperability by defeating simultaneous attacks from both ballistic and supersonic missiles, all while under Electronic Warfare attack. The Royal Navy was especially pleased to play a significant part with HMS DRAGON, ARGYLL and LANCASTER. They not only acted as an integral part of the Task Force, but they also carried out essential testing and trials of new equipment and software that will ensure the Royal Navy and NATO continue to field battle-winning capabilities well into the future.” said Captain Philip Tilden, Head of Above Water Battlespace Capability, Royal Navy.
“Coordinating over 3,000 people from 10 different nations is no easy feat. It’s a huge testament to the exceptional collaboration we have across QinetiQ to provide an outstanding experience for our customers. We work hand in glove with US and NATO partners to continually deliver the best outcomes and take pride in the contribution made to the defence capabilities of nations involved. Formidable Shield is a great example of Mission led Innovation in action, supporting inter-operability of UK forces and our allies. It’s paramount the UK’s systems are stress tested to better prepare for our real-world adversaries, and together we work to ensure the future capabilities of our forces.” said Steve Fitz-Gerald, Group Managing Director Maritime & Land, QinetiQ.
QinetiQ manages 16 Ministry of Defence sites across the country as part of the Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA).
10 Aug 21. New Zealand military uses ball-shaped simulation platform to practice amphibious ops. The New Zealand Defence Force is using a virtual reality platform that is helping drivers train for amphibious assault missions, a military official told Defense News.
Eight360′s NOVA is an immersive, untethered VR platform shaped like a ball that allows for 360-degree movement on all axes. Mark Baddeley, director of emerging technologies for NZDF’s Joint Defence Services, said the Army is eyeing it to improve driver safety.
“The initial exploration tested vehicles moving from the multirole vessel HMNZS Canterbury onto a landing craft and then onto a beach. This can be challenging to practice in real life, as it requires the coordinated availability of personnel, vehicles, ships, landing craft, weather conditions and the beach itself,” Baddeley said.
Since the military can’t regularly practice these amphibious maneuvers, there is a risk of skill fade, said Baddeley.
“Using NOVA allows different driving situations — and sea states — to be replicated, improving sustainability as well as real costs in terms of wear and tear and fuel,” he added. “We started the simulator with the Cat 938K front-end loader, an expensive vehicle that requires different skills to maneuver [amphibiously]. We worked with Eight360 to develop content that mimicked not only the ramp angles required but also the guide who supports the driver in the transition, making the scenario as realistic as possible.”
The NZDF is also using NOVA to practice off-road vehicle-handling skills for the Army’s six-wheeled medium heavy operational vehicle fleet.
Independent defense consultant Gordon Crane told Defense News that those trucks are constantly breaking down due to their cross-country trips.
“That’s what happens when you don’t specify better shock absorbers. Initially the Army guys were suspicious that the NOVA would be too much fun for training, but they quickly discovered that when you do something wrong in the simulator, when you roll the truck over, you feel it, you don’t enjoy it,” Crane said.
“I’ve experienced driving a [medium heavy operational vehicle] in NOVA, and it’s not at all comfortable. That’s really important because you are learning cross-country skills without any wear and tear or damage to the trucks themselves.”
Baddeley said the NZDF has begun developing simulations through NOVA for other Army vehicles, enabling the service them to test a wider operating concept across multiple training scenarios.
NOVA weighs less than 1,100 pounds, is 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet, and can be moved on a pallet jack. “You can just roll it into a container and take it places,” said Terry Miller, the founder and chief technology officer of Eight360.
The company demonstrated NOVA at the Australian Land Forces show in Brisbane in June 2021, and it was marketed by the company’s Australian partner, Queensland-based space and defense simulation company Raytracer.
Eight360 also has a strategic partner in the U.S. — Brightline Interactive. The Virginia-based company plans to take NOVA to Florida in November for the military simulation and training conference I/ITSEC. (Source: Defense News)
10 Aug 21. US Army’s critical missile defense system will play role at Project Convergence. The service’s major campaign of learning this fall — Project Convergence — in order to focus on the system’s progress through a challenging initial operational test, the head of Army Space and Missile Defense Command told Defense News.
The Integrated Battle Command System will not only link to sensors and shooters within a missile defense architecture, but also all sensors and shooters on the battlefield capable of defeating threats across the spectrum. Its success in the initial operational test and evaluation process is imperative due to the central role it’s expected to play in future operations.
While the Army cleared IBCS for low-rate production earlier this year, its been a long and difficult road for the Northrop Grumman-developed system.
The program experienced an almost a four-year delay and struggled in a 2016 limited-user test, but the Army has been able to complete soldier checkouts and other test events over the past few years as well as a limited-user tests in the summer of 2020.
The Army is concentrated on a successful completion of the initial operational test and evaluation, and the service did not want other activities to distract the team, Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, Space and Missile Defense Command chief, told Defense News on Aug. 10 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
But because IBCS is critical to future battlefield operations and considered the centerpiece of the Army’s contribution to the Joint All-Domain Command and Control effort, under co-development with the Air Force, it will attend Project Convergence. The JADC2 effort is expected to be the network of networks that the joint force believes it needs to fight highly capable adversaries such as Russia and China.
The initial operational test and evaluation is set to begin next month, Karbler said, and will wrap up in February 2022.
While Project Convergence was an Army-only event in 2020, its inaugural year, it will now focus on joint interoperability, which will include experimentation with JADC2 capabilities.
Karbler said IBCS would participate in one “excursion” — or scenario — at the event.
More details on how IBCS would be used in the scenario are scant. An Army Futures Command spokesperson said details are not yet available on what will be accomplished with IBCS in the excursion because planning is ongoing.
Lt. Gen. James Richardson, Army Futures Command’s deputy chief, laid out overarching details on this year’s Project Convergence in a separate presentation at the symposium, including new focus areas. In addition to developing joint interoperability concepts and capabilities, the Army and its joint partners plan to focus on operating in delayed, disconnected environments or with intermittent network latency; enhance the ability to make decisions using all-domain situational awareness; and evolving the network into a resilient “data ecosystem.”
The services will work on further integration of artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotic systems into tactical formations, he added.
The effort is getting much bigger, Richardson said, and will include the injection of 107 different technologies. The officer also said the event will grow from several hundred participants to roughly 6,000-7,000, with 900 of those dedicated to data collection.
The road to Project Convergence is well underway: The Army has already rehearsed several mission threads and will continue to rehearse this month. Once those are complete, the service will begin a full-scale setup and field validation exercise in October. Project Convergence will run Oct. 12-Nov. 10. (Source: Defense News)
09 Aug 21. NAS Whiting Field welcomes US Navy’s first TH-73A training helicopter. The TH-73A features a fully integrated flight management system and an automatic flight control system. The US Navy’s first TH-73A Thrasher training helicopter has arrived at NAS Whiting Field-South near Milton in Florida, the US. The helicopter flew from Leonardo Helicopters’ Philadelphia facility to the base. In June, Leonardo Helicopters delivered the first of 130 TH-73A training helicopters to the US Navy.
In January last year, Leonardo was awarded an initial contract of approximately $177m for 32 TH-73A aircraft by the US Department of Defense (DoD).
The remaining 31 Thrashers will be delivered this calendar year.
The DoD exercised options for an additional 36 helicopters in November the same year. The total requirement is for 130 aircraft, with deliveries to continue through 2024.
Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office (PMA-273) programme manager captain Holly Shoger said: “This delivery signifies a new era for Naval Aviation training.
“The combined government and contractor team set new standards to meet much needed requirements in the fleet. We are proud to develop and provide these new capabilities that will improve pilot training for many years to come.”
The TH-73A features an advanced avionics suite with a fully integrated flight management system and an automatic flight control system.
It also incorporates an independent, digital cockpit displays to both pilot stations.
TW-5 AHTS Fleet Integration Team (FIT) officer in charge commander Dustin Robbins said: “The simple cockpit design and layout, pushbutton and toggle switch interface, advanced navigation and communication capabilities, and rapid control response make it the ideal training aircraft and the perfect steppingstone to any service rotary wing platform.
“With its all-digital cockpit and fully integrated Flight Management System coupled with superior power and speed margins, the TH-73A is a lot of fun to fly.”
The TH-73A is based on the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)-certified variant of the commercial AW119Kx.
It will serve as the Undergraduate Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) for current and future student aviators for the US Navy (USN), US Marine Corps (USMC), US Coast Guard and Nato allies.
Equipped with a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engine, the AHTS will modernise navy training technology, taking it from analogue to digital. It is designed to serve aviation students until 2050 or longer. (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Aug 21. Russian and Indian servicemen conduct mock terrorist training. The training was carried out as part of the Indo-Russia joint military exercise, Indra 2021. Russia and India army personnel have carried out a joint anti-terrorist operation at the Prudboy training ground in the Volgograd Region in south Russia. Under the scenario, troops successfully destroyed mock targets, reported the press office of Russia’s Southern Military District (SMD). The training event was conducted as part of the Indra-2021 international exercise, which started on 1 August. It is set to conclude on 13 August. A group of 250 troops of motorised rifle, tank and artillery units and SMD’s reconnaissance company of the motorised rifle unit are participating in the drills. Approximately 250 India Army servicemen are also taking part in the exercise.
According to the plan of the latest event, servicemen were tasked with eliminating mock terrorists in a village.
The Indian Armed Forces’ motorised infantry company took the lead to start the activity and fired at the positions of the mock terrorists.
The task also included landing of special forces from the Mi-8 helicopter. Simultaneously, the Indian special forces began an assault on buildings, descending from roofs.
The press office stated: “International joint activities are carried out in accordance with the plan of international military cooperation and are aimed at strengthening and developing military cooperation between countries.”
The plan for the SMD combat training this year enables the participation of the district’s military work force in international exercises with units of the Abkhazia, Armenia, Algeria, South Ossetia, Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan and Egyptian armed forces. (Source: army-technology.com)
10 Aug 21. Fighter pilots fly virtual missions inside shipping containers on HMS Queen Elizabeth. British and American F-35 pilots are flying virtual missions against the enemy inside shipping containers on the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier as the military shifts towards using computer simulations to train troops overseas.
The war games present different threats the carrier strike group could face as it carries out freedom-of-navigation exercises in the Indo-Pacific region and multinational exercises giving a show of strength to Beijing.
There are four F-35 simulators on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, which are provided by Lockheed Martin and operated by flying instructors from BAE systems. They are used regularly by UK and US pilots to practise tactics against the most up-to-date threats while they are deployed.
It is understood that British military policy is for F-35 pilots to carry out 50 per cent of their training in the aircraft and the remainder using computer simulations in the “high-definition synthetic environment”. Pilots on board carry out one simulated event per week, equating to one hour and 40 minutes spent in a digital replica of the real world.
The use of “synthetic” training on board the carrier is likely to be repeated elsewhere, with virtual training platforms expected to be shipped to deployments across the world so that troops do not have to go back to bases to improve their skills. This would save money, time and help the environment by reducing flights home.
Edward Sheldon, head of UK F-35 sustainment at BAE Systems, said pilots on board HMS Queen Elizabeth had already flown 500 hours across 178 missions on the two deployable mission rehearsal trainers (DMRT) — which include four cockpits — since it set sail in May. It is the first time the simulators have been used on an operation.
The simulators are housed inside ISO shipping containers in the hangar deck of the carrier. They replicate an F-35 cockpit with a visual of the battlefield projected onto a 360-degree dome. Pilots can either train alone or rehearse a mission with others.
Sheldon said: “We’ve managed to cram in a huge amount of computing power into a shipping container, it’s transportable. The idea is that DMRT will go with the squadron wherever they go, so whether that be land based or at sea on the Queen Elizabeth carrier.”
He said the systems could be linked so that pilots can train together virtually. Sheldon said the technology meant pilots could stay in the area of operations to train in emergency procedures.
He said the training includes simulating “high end war fighting”, however the units could also be used for mission rehearsal where troops train in digital replicas of the outside world that include the correct weather conditions and the same terrain.
“Effectively it is as real, if not almost an exact match to what the pilots will see when they get into the aircraft”, he said. “The synthetic training environment is now as important as the live environment. We can’t train pilots in the live environment to use the full range of capabilities that a fifth generation F-35 gives to the UK military. That needs to be in a secure environment where they can train and practice.
“Going on a deployment like CSG21 (Carrier Strike Group 21) for that length of time you can’t just leave it at home, you’ve got to take it with you”, he said.
Commander Mark Sparrow, an F-35 pilot and commanding officer of 617 squadron on board the carrier, said the simulators had been “extremely useful in maintaining the squadron’s operational capability and currency”.
He added: “Pilots plan and brief for a sortie in the DMRT in exactly the same manner as for a live flight.” Sparrow said they download the electronic data needed for a mission in the same way they would on an aircraft. They also use it to practise responses in an emergency and some of the conventional landing skills.
“The simulation also allows the squadron to train at a very high level planning against multiple threats from both surface and air,” he added.
The carrier is currently at the US naval base of Guam in the western pacific where sailors are having some time off before continuing with exercises and diplomatic engagements in the region.
Last month Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the head of the air force, said that in the future nearly all RAF aircraft training would be carried out using computer simulations on the ground, with live flying saved for wars and demonstrations of power.
A spokesman for the MoD said: “Synthetic training plays a central role in developing the expertise of our pilots, allowing them to operate F-35 Lightning jets to the highest standard whilst maintaining critical defence outputs.
“As part of the CSG21 deployment on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, the deployable mission rehearsal trainers offer our pilots the opportunity to both train and undertake joint mission rehearsals with the US Marine Corps.” (Source: The Times)
09 Aug 21. Leonardo DRS to Build Next-Gen Air Combat Training Systems for Draken Europe. Leonardo DRS announced today that it will provide advanced air combat training systems to Draken Europe in support of Draken’s program to support operational readiness training for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The Leonardo DRS Airborne & Intelligence Systems business is partnered with Collins Aerospace to deliver the next-generation air combat training systems for use by Draken in support of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MoD). The system is a Joint Secure Air Combat Training System (JSAS) for use with Draken’s Falcon 20 fleet.
“We are proud to be a provider of trusted air combat training systems for our close coalition partner which will give Draken the ability to improve the operational training offered to the front line of the United Kingdom’s fighting forces,” said Larry Ezell, Senior Vice President General Manager of the Leonardo DRS Airborne and Intelligence Systems business. “This is an opportunity to demonstrate the continued support and cutting-edge technology that we and our partners are bringing to coalition partners,” he said.
JSAS enables the warfighter to train and improve joint tactics, techniques and procedures in a secure environment against a peer adversary threat. The solution is comprised of aircraft-mounted JSAS pods and a ground station, offering advanced, high capacity, low latency, and multi-hop mesh networking. A software-defined radio is used to host multiple waveforms providing key enablers to achieve secure, multi-domain, live, virtual and constructive training.
This type of system is already in use by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy for training and analysis and is expected to be cleared for use on the Falcon 20 fleet in the early summer of 2021. As part of Draken’s current operational readiness training contract with the MoD, JSAS will make near real time combat training information available to be viewed on the ground and be ready for debrief immediately after landing. This interoperability is made possible by the Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) architecture that ensures classified data is protected while shared across platforms with the same security levels.
JSAS, a variant of the next-generation Tactical Combat Training System – Increment II (TCTS II) also produced by Collins Aerospace and Leonardo DRS, will enable fully encrypted interoperability with all coalition platforms from the legacy P5 as well as the future P6 air combat maneuvering instrumentation (ACMI) waveforms.
These training systems are designed to address emerging needs for our customers as global threats evolve. The JSAS pod capability is part of the Leonardo DRS advanced sensor technology portfolio which has an extensive installed base across the U.S. military and international customers.
Under this contract, Leonardo DRS will manufacture select portions of the JSAS pods and will also perform the pods’ final assembly and acceptance testing to include aircraft integration and weapons simulations.
Work will be performed at the Airborne & Intelligence Systems facility located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
05 Aug 21. US Air Force trials virtual reality for crew chief course. The US Air Force Air Education and Training Command Training Transformation programme is using virtual reality technology and artificial intelligence to transform its aviator development process.
The US Air Force (USAF) Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Training Command Training Transformation (T3) development team has recreated the Crew Chief Fundamentals Course as a virtual reality (VR) experience in partnership with officials at Sheppard Air Force Base. In the summer of 2020, 29 students trialled the programme by carrying out various tasks, including maintaining simulated aircraft.
The initiative goes back to 2017 with the Pilot Training Next programme, Detachment 23 commander Major Jesse Johnson tells Airforce Technology.
“The organisation was facing a pilot shortage and was looking at the options how to produce better quality pilots faster in anecdotal terms,” he says. “After that, commanders of the time recognised that if we’re going to create the pipeline in pilots, then we should create maintainers as well. So, we started developing our product and methodology.”
Johnson, who is second-generation USAF, adds: “The team serves as a conduit for industry partners to provide solutions to modernising air force classrooms without impacting current student throughput.”
The Texas-based AETC was established in 1942, making it the second-oldest major command in the USAF that recruits, trains and educates aviators.
The T3 programme is a fundamental shift in how information is being delivered and students are educated. As opposed to learning from PowerPoints in a modular way, students can learn at their own pace, and instructors can focus on answering questions and cater for students’ needs instead of conducting classes. The new method is competency-based and has a demonstration focus.
Johnson says they are no longer making students fit the content, they are changing the content to match their needs.
Fundamentals of aircraft maintenance instructor supervisor and 362nd Training Squadron Tech Sergeant Kyle Ingram says: “As of now, we are putting the students through the traditional course where they are in a standard classroom, and we take those students. In the time that they are waiting to go to their next duty stations where they do their follow-on training from there, we take those students and we put them into a VR programme and allow them to retake the course essentially in the new VR programme. And we always sit them down, let them do their own course in their own time.”
From T3’s perspective, a quality aviator is an individual that can do every part of their job with minimal supervision to the highest efficiency and proficiency, and they are confident their training method is capable of achieving that.
The results students produced coming out of the VR course were encouraging. The end-of-course assessment showed scores were comparable to those students who only participated in the traditional methods.
Ingram says: “Every single student has always come out of there saying that it’s [the VR method] way more engaging and more fun for them. It comes more naturally for them because, in this day and age, the students are being brought up into school with all of this technology.”
Instructors have also praised T3’s quality and personalised, aviator-centric approach. Students have also finished the 27-day course on an average of 12.5 days.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Casey Michalski (left), Staff Sgt. Kevin Lassen, and Staff Sgt. Renee Scherf, Detachment 23 curriculum engineers, test virtual reality training systems. (Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt Keith James)
Johnson says: “We do produce students faster, but that was never the intention. It was always about better quality airmen coming on the backside of it. And if we happen to get a time savings as a benefit, then that’s great news for the taxpayer”.
Hands-on training creates a burden on the wing by forcing mission series aircraft that are committed to real-world roles to be pulled from their missions. Therefore, capitalising on the opportunities that VR gives to practice seems invaluable.
However, there are questions in the military whether VR training provides the same quality preparation as hands-on training. The main concern is the low-fidelity capability of virtual experiences that do not necessarily train muscle memory adequately.
Johnson argues: “When we do our tire change setup, the haptics of a 300-pound tyre aren’t there in VR, but certainly the steps and processes that we need the airman to know, are part of that. I’ve been in a VR environment myself where it feels like I am actually on the aircraft, it looks so realistic. So, I think we are overcoming those limitations.”
He adds that an aviator was able to identify missing components from an aircraft without ever seen an aircraft in real life, solely relying on her VR training.
Fundamentally, humans learn through failure, so the project developers have implemented a so-called consequential learning procedure to the system. That is to reward or penalise students according to their actions. Designers of T3, however, recognise the essentiality of hands-on training, and they are not planning to replace that with VR.
“We don’t pretend that the old system is bad, we just say it won’t function in the future,” says Johnson.
T3 plans to add an additional component to the programme called non-player characters. This will allow students to interact, ask questions and receive instruction from an artificial intelligence (AI) powered aviator within the simulation. AI could also be used to use the information collected to whether a student has a competency gap, or they are falling short on a particular skill set. The system then can adjust and tailor the course to help trainees overcome their individual struggles. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
06 Aug 21. Russian troops training with Chinese equipment ahead of strategic exercise with PLA. Russian troops set to take part in the 9–13 August ‘Sibu/Interaction 2021′ strategic military exercise with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been familiarising themselves with Chinese military equipment in preparation for the joint manoeuvres: an indication of the growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing.
Video footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 3 August shows Russian troops – under the guidance of PLA instructors – training on Chinese 8×8 vehicles, including the ZTL-11 fire support vehicle and the ZBL-09 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The footage is part of a Russian MoD statement saying that the move marks the first time that Russian servicemen have “mastered modern models of military equipment and weapons” of the PLA.
The move comes after Chinese troops were reported to have used Russian T-72B3 main battle tanks, BMP-3 IFVs, and Igla-S man-portable air-defence systems as part of Exercise ‘Kavkaz-2020′, which was held in Russia.
The Russian MoD also noted that the process of learning to use PLA equipment has taken place in several stages, including theoretical training, classes on electronic simulators, as well as practical driving and shooting, adding that the training is being carried out both individually and as part of units. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Aug 21. Close combat immersive technology specialists 4GD present UAS synthetic training techniques at inaugural British Army BattleLab event. Close combat immersive technology specialists, 4GD, presented concepts for UAS tactical deployment and training in a synthetic environment at the first ever British Army BattleLab event in Dorset.
Organised by Brigantes in collaboration with the Army BattleLab, the event hosted over 100 visitors and a range of innovative defence SMEs who were invited to present, discuss, and demonstrate UAS technologies and new capabilities. 4GD was joined by strategic partner, D3A, to showcase new concepts and techniques for drone mission operation in a synthetic environment. The presentation explored how to use a 3D virtual world to employ digital drones for training and simulation and allow users to learn, practice and repeat tactical UAS flight ops without damaging physical assets in the process.
4GD Business Development Director, James Crowley, said: “The BattleLab is an exciting new forum for SMEs engage with defence and showcase their innovation and the diversity of their capabilities. We were delighted to be invited by Brigantes and joined alongside our partners, D3A, to demonstrate the potential that synthetic training has to offer. We see a future where the development of tactics, techniques and procedures for drone employment – and other combined arms – can be done synthetically, greatly improving access to training.”
The Army BattleLab, part of the government’s investment in defence and the new Defence Innovation Centre, enables the British Army and wider UK Ministry of Defence to directly engage and work with academic institutions, defence primes, SMEs and the wider industry.
As the physical manifestation of ARIEL – the Army Research Innovation & Experimentation Laboratory, the BattleLab also allows end users the opportunity to work with innovative industries in a shared space, allowing ideas to be developed, and technology and equipment to be refined. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
09 Aug 21. US and Colombian Army paratroopers complete Exercise Hidra II. The US and Colombian armies jointly received training on day and night airborne operations during the airborne training exercise. Paratroopers of the US Army and Colombian Army have successfully completed a six-day bilateral airborne training exercise.
Dubbed as Dynamic Force Employment (DFE), the airborne exercise is also known as Exercise Hidra II.
It showcased the tactical capabilities of the Colombian Army’s special forces unit ‘the Lanceros’, at the Tolemaida Air Base in Colombia.
The US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) exercise and the US Army Southern bilateral DFE enabled the rapid deployment of US troops within the area.
During the bilateral DFE exercise, the US and Colombian armies jointly received training on day and night airborne operations, a tactical field training exercise, as well as medical evacuation procedures.
The two armies also executed a combat water survival course and participated in an obstacle course at the Lancero School.
On the first day of the exercise, the paratroopers were observed by US Army South commanding general brigadier general William Thigpen and Colombian army commander general Eduardo Enrique Zapateiro.
Zapatiero said: “General Thigpen and I are in the field today, working hard to develop this training and be completely interoperable.
“We are going to put in practice all the distinct skills and capabilities that make a great soldier.”
The DFE was planned, managed and executed by US Army South staff. The 82nd Airborne Division served as the exercise’s operational unit.
At the closing ceremony of the exercise, the two armies exchanged airborne badges and 2-501st Battalion commander lieutenant colonel David Webb expressed appreciation for the military participants.
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.