24 Feb 22. Upgraded Woodbury Common Grenade Range reopens to support military training. Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has reopened the grenade range at Colaton Raleigh Common on the Pebblebed Heaths. Lord Clinton cuts the ribbon to mark the reopening. From left to right: John Varley OBE – Clinton Devon Estates Estate Manager, Lt Col Chris Samuel – Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lord Clinton, Lt Col Tim Jalland – Commander South West Training Estate, Matt Hughes – Operations Director, Landmarc Support Services, Rob Gaston – Landmarc Support Services Site Manager, Rich Carter – DIO Training Safety Officer. Copyright: Landmarc Support Services, Stewart Writtle. Following extensive refurbishment work the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has reopened the grenade range at Colaton Raleigh Common on the Pebblebed Heaths, part of Woodbury Common Training Area, to support Royal Marine recruits during their basic training and wider defence users. Working together with landowner Clinton Devon Estates, the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust which manages the land, Natural England and Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc), the purpose-built range has been brought back up to an operational standard so that throwing live grenades can begin once again.
Rich Carter, the local DIO Training Safety Officer for the Woodbury Common Training Area, said: “Good teamwork and collaboration have enabled us to complete this work and it will be great to see this important facility back in operation. Training facilities like Colaton Raleigh Common are crucial to progressive military training and we are pleased to be able to provide this much needed facility to our users.
The refurbishment work was delivered by Landmarc, the DIO’s industry partner for the management and operation of the UK Defence Training Estate. It involved the full excavation of the old range floor. Repairs had been made to the perimeter fencing and the replenishment of 500 tonnes of specialist stone. This had to be carefully researched and approved by Natural England to ensure it was ecologically compatible with the surrounding heathland, as well as being able to absorb the impact of explosions from the grenades.”
Chris Ockleton, Regional Operations Manager at Landmarc, said: “Strong collaboration was critical to our ability to bring this range back into operational use. Working with all stakeholders, we were able to identify a particular type of stone in Wales that met the stringent environmental requirements of Natural England as well as the MOD regulations to provide a safe place to train. We are pleased that the dedication and commitment of our collective teams has resulted in the reinstatement of this important training feature for our armed forces.”
The range had been in use since the 1950s and was closed in 2015 due to weather damage and erosion. It will provide a much-needed facility for military units based in the South West and will be primarily used by recruits from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, as well as by other defence users.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Samuel RM, Commanding Officer Support Wing of the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, who officially opened the new facility, said: “We are delighted to see the grenade range at Woodbury Common reopen. It will allow our Royal Marines to train safely and more realistically, whilst building their skills, experience and confidence before joining the United Kingdom’s Commando Forces. Previously they have had to travel to ranges in Wiltshire and South Wales to train so the reopening of the range will help us to use training time more efficiently as well as reducing costs and the carbon footprint of users, enabling the delivery of a more sustainable estate. During the work care was taken to minimise the impact of the range and ensure wildlife was protected. Situated within a 1,100-hectare network of linked heaths, the area is home to more than 3,000 species of flora and fauna and is protected by national and European designations. Due to the site’s sensitivity, the MOD worked closely with Landmarc, Clinton Devon Estates, the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and Natural England, who provided national level ecological guidance to ensure that the work carried out did not adversely affect the site.”
Dr Sam Bridgewater, Head of Wildlife and Conservation for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “The Royal Marines have a long history of training on the Pebblebed Heaths with their activities controlled through a licence to ensure they are compatible with the site’s many conservation designations. Every recruit that passes through training is taught about the site’s environmental importance and sensitivities.”
Kim Strawbridge, Reserves Manager for the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, added: “Military training on the heathland dates to the Second World War when Dalditch Camp was a major military encampment. We continually monitor the species of key conservation significance on the Pebblebed Heaths annually, including nightjar and Dartford warbler, and despite the presence of the range these have continued to thrive since the Heaths site was designated for conservation in the 1990s.”
Live grenade training will resume this month and will take place on weekdays (the facility may be in use from 8am to 7pm, however, between 10am and 3pm is the normal live throwing widow.
Only by exception and for urgent operational necessity would the site be used at weekends). People visiting the Heaths will be able to check future training dates and times on the GOV.UK website on the Straight Point Ranges and Woodbury Common Grenade Range firing times page. The dates will be posted before activity is scheduled to take place.
The legal conditions for this type of military training activity are set out in the Ranges Licenses and The Woodbury Common Range Byelaws, copies of which are published on noticeboards positioned on all approach routes to the Range Danger Area. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
23 Feb 22. Here are the competitors for Malaysia’s jet trainer contract. One of the aircraft competing for a Malaysian trainer contract made its debut at the Singapore Airshow last week, taking part in static and flying displays. While the other competitors opted to maintain a lower profile, three of India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-made Tejas showed off their capabilities, courtesy of the No. 18 “Flying Bullets” Squadron based in Sulur. Two of the aircraft participated in aerial displays during the air show, which took place Feb. 15-18 at the Changi Exhibition Centre. Malaysia is seeking 18 jets to replace its fleet of BAE Systems-made Hawk 108 trainers and Hawk 208 light-attack jets, which were introduced in 1994 and have suffered from increasing attrition. Korean Aerospace Industries is also competing for Malaysia’s Fighter Lead In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft program, pitching its FA-50 Golden Eagle multirole jet. The South Korean company’s booth at the air show included models of the FA-50, the KF-21 Boramae fighter, the Surion helicopter and the Light Armed Helicopter. Its KT-1B turboprop trainers were flown by Indonesia’s Jupiter aerobatics team during an aerial display. The FA-50 and its predecessor, the T-50 trainer, are regional export success stories, with Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand joining South Korea in operating the type. Outside of the region, Iraq operates the Golden Eagle. A possible sticking point for the FA-50 could be its Israeli-origin Elta Systems ELM-2032 multimode radar, as Malaysia is adamant in refusing to use Israeli systems over the country’s treatment of Palestinians.
However, KAI’s regional manager, Lee Chang Jae, told Defense News that the FA-50 could be fitted with several other radars based on customer requirements, including an active electronically scanned array set under development by Hanwha for the KF-21 Boramae.
Turkish Aerospace Industries, which also hosted a booth at the air show, is proposing its Hurjet aircraft for Malaysia’s FLIT-LCA program. TAI is offering a strategic partnership with Malaysia to build a supersonic jet trainer for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, in which three would be produced in Turkey and 15 made in Malaysia under license, the company’s CEO, Temel Kotil, said during a Feb. 12 television interview.
“Within the scope of [the] FLIT-LCA program, Turkish Aerospace is making [a] 100% offset commitment through localization and technology transfer. After establishing a strong partnership and collaboration with local Malaysian partners, Turkish Aerospace will present a production process plan including [an] aircraft final assembly line in Malaysia,” the company told Defense News.
If it won the competition, TAI said, the first three aircraft would undergo final assembly in Turkey while the company trains Malaysian engineers and technicians.
TAI would also transfer to local partners high-tech aerospace components such as wings, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, and rudders, as well as metallic and composite detail-parts manufacturing, component-level structural assembly, and system integration activities. The firm would also carry out weapon systems integration in Malaysia.
“It would be very useful for the program if the local partner [acquiring] these activities should have prior capabilities and capacity in similar areas,” TAI said.
The other FLIT-LCA contenders who also had booths at the air show were Italian firm Leonardo and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, who are offering the M-346 Master and Hongdu L-15 Falcon, respectively. Media reports have also said Russia’s Rosoboronexport is offering the MiG-35 for the Malaysian tender. (Source: Defense News)
23 Feb 22. UAE to buy Chinese jet trainer aircraft. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to acquire advanced jet trainer aircraft from China, under a deal announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 23 February. The deal signed between the MoD and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) will see the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD) receive 12 AVIC Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry L-15 aircraft, with options for a further 36 to follow. “We have reached the final stage in our talks with the Chinese side. The final contract will be signed soon,” Tareq Abdulraheem Al Hosani, CEO of Tawazun Economic Council, said, noting that the deal is part of a wider drive by the UAE to diversify its portfolio of defence equipment.With the contract signature still pending, the announcement did not disclose a value or delivery timeline for the aircraft. (Source: Janes)
22 Feb 22. NATO’s anti-submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Manta underway in Italy. NATO exercise Dynamic Manta (DYMA22) began off the Sicilian coast on 21 February with ships, submarines, as well as aircraft and personnel from nine allied nations converging in the central Mediterranean Sea for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare training. The aim of Dynamic Manta is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare disciplines while maintaining focus on safety. As the host nation, Italy is providing support in the Catania, Augusta and Siracusa harbour, naval helicopter base in Catania, Naval Air Station Sigonella, Trapani Air Base as well as logistical support (refuelling operations, medical assistance and personnel accommodation) from Augusta naval base. Submarines from France, Greece, and Italy joined surface ships from Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, UK and the US for the exercise. Maritime patrol aircraft from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, UK and the US support the simulated, multi-threat environment during the exercise. Each surface ship will have the opportunity to conduct a variety of submarine warfare operations. The submarines will take turns hunting and being hunted, closely co-ordinating their efforts with the air and surface participants. NATO’s maritime power lies in the ability of the Standing Forces to rapidly join with high readiness, high capacity national forces to deliver effects when and where needed, according to US Navy Rear Admiral Stephen Mack, Commander Submarines NATO.
“Exercises like this, along with regular training between Allied navy units and our multinational Standing Naval Forces, is a force multiplier that provides a collectively trained and interoperable force, ready to work together as the maritime portion of the VJTF [Very High Joint Readiness Task Force],” he said. “This exercise is a visible demonstration of the Alliance’s ability to cooperate and effectively integrate. Alliance unit, solidarity, and cohesion are the core of NATO.” Dynamic Manta is a planned NATO exercise that occurs every year in Italy and is one of the two major anti-submarine warfare exercises led every year by NATO Maritime Command. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Feb 22. Sweden and US armed forces conduct joint exercise. Swedish Armed Forces said that participation in such exercises is aligned with the country’s defence policy. The Swedish Armed Forces and the US Air Force (USAF) are conducting a joint military exercise in south Sweden. During the exercise, Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets escorted the US B-52 Stratofortress of the Bomber Task Force into Swedish airspace. The aircraft descended to a lower altitude above Småland county with no threat to public safety. The drill is part of a recurring exercise pattern in line with the established cooperation between the US and Sweden. In a statement, Swedish Armed Forces said that participation in such exercises is aligned with the country’s defence policy. It will help in improving interoperability and exercise activities in the Baltic Sea region, the statement added. The Swedish Armed Forces Joint Operations chief lieutenant general Michael Claesson said: “This type of exercise is a vital part of Swedish defence capability. To cooperate with the US increases our capability to defend Sweden and contributes to stability and security in our region.” In December 2021, the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) contracted Saab for new equipment for the Gripen E multi-role fighter jet. The deal, supplemental to the original contract, was valued at around 153m. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
18 Feb 22. US NAVCENT-led International Maritime Exercise 2022 concludes. The event involved more than 80 uncrewed systems from ten nations. The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)-led International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 2022 has successfully come to an end. The Middle East region’s largest maritime exercise was inaugurated during a ceremony at US 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain last month. This year’s biennial naval training event included exercise Cutlass Express (CE), which is conducted by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa in the West Indian Ocean and East African coastal regions annually. IMX/CE 2022 saw the participation of over 9,000 personnel and up to 50 vessels from more than 60 partner nations and international organisations. The event, which is the seventh iteration of IMX, also became the largest unmanned exercise globally as it saw the involvement of over 80 uncrewed systems from ten countries. The combined exercise was conducted across the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and North Indian Ocean. Training operations that were covered during IMX/CE 2022 include mine countermeasures; visit, board, search, and seizure; and mass casualty response. The exercise formed a combined task force to include artificial intelligence, as well as unmanned systems. NAVEUR-NAVAF maritime partnership programme director and US Sixth Fleet vice-commander rear admiral Jeffrey Spivey said: “These skills, developed during IMX/CE 2022, can make a lasting impact on regional security. The work we have done here can directly contribute to our combined ability to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce.”
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InVeris Training Solutions combines an agile approach with an unmatched expertise in training technology to design and deliver customized, cutting-edge, first-rate training solutions that keep military, law enforcement and commercial range customers 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 15,500 live-fire ranges and 7,500 virtual systems globally during its 95-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.