31 Mar 22. USMC adds to Saab’s tactical engagement simulation system contract. The US Marine Corps (USMC) has awarded Saab Inc a contract modification within the Force on Force Training Systems – Next (FoFTS-Next) programme, the company announced in March. The contract, which is worth approximately USD122m, modifies the initial undefinitised single award task order contract (SATOC) that was awarded in June 2021 and valued at USD54m. At that stage, the potential total value was USD127.9m. This latest modification increases the potential total value to USD248m.Under the FoFTS-Next programme, Saab will supply its latest GAMER laser-based tactical engagement simulation system (TESS), which will include instrumentation equipment – known as the Marine Corps Training Instrumentation System (MCTIS) in USMC service – and logistic and training exercise support. The system is planned to be fielded between 2023 and 2026 at USMC bases in California, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, North Carolina, and Virginia. (Source: Janes)
29 Mar 22. Project Convergence 2022 will focus on both Indo-Pacific and European scenarios. In its third year, the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence demonstration will focus on both the Indo-Pacific and European theaters while tackling how to fight with future capability at a larger scale, according to Col. Tobin Magsig, special assistant to the commander of Army Futures Command.
Project Convergence grew from just an Army event in the desert of Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in 2020 to a joint evaluation in 2021.
While the two previous Project Convergence events focused heavily on scenarios that might play out in the Indo-Pacific region, as the joint force continues to work out its roles and responsibilities, “the Army has got to be ready to fight anywhere, just like the rest of the joint force,” Magsig told Defense News in a recent interview. “We’re responsive to what’s going on in the world.”
This time, the United Kingdom, Australia and very likely New Zealand will participate, said Magsig. Canada will observe with plans to participate in a subsequent Project Convergence, he added.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth had stressed last fall that while the Army is looking heavily toward the Pacific region and its role there, Europe should never be out of focus. Just as Project Convergence 2021 was wrapping up, Russia began massing its forces along the Ukrainian border.
In planning PC22, Magsig said he took the secretary’s recent comments and said “we have to experiment with both in PC22, and unfortunately for the Ukrainian people, we’ve seen that play out with great importance now. But we realized in November-December timeframe that we needed to expand our horizons here at Project Convergence 22.”
Near-peer adversary focus
The exercise will run through two scenarios. The first will be focused on the Indo-Pacific area of operations, where the joint force and its international partners will conduct experimentation in offensive and defensive fires.
The scenario will tie together places relevant to the area of operation, including Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State, Camp Pendleton and San Clemente Island in California and Hawaii, according to Magsig.
The second scenario is “focused on what we’re watching playing out in the [U.S. European Command] AOR” and will feature a land-centric fight against the type of “threat the Ukrainians are facing every day now,” Magsig said.
Most of those operations will play out at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin and the Navy’s electronic warfare range at China Lake — both in California.
“When you link those together it’s a pretty large swath of land that has a range of electronic warfare sensors that we can build in a range to look like an adversary’s threat,” he said.
The scenario will experiment with how command and control nodes from all five services can penetrate an integrated air defense system network resembling those currently being used by Russia in Ukraine. Then the joint force will sustain a land campaign against a hybrid threat much like the one “you’re seeing in living color right now in Ukraine,” Magsig said.
That land campaign will be supported through the space and air domains and through fires capability coming from the maritime domain, he noted.
In both scenarios, the Army along with joint and coalition forces have been tasked by the Army secretary and chief to scale capability that performed well in PC21 and increase the complexity “to the point where it’s completely operationally relevant,” Magsig said.
In PC21, the Army used tactical units commanded by one- or two-star-level units, but this time, the event will scale up to three-star-level command and control nodes, according to Magsig.
Last year, the 82nd Airborne Brigade played a major role. This year, the Army will use the 3rd Armored Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the 18th Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Elements of the Navy’s Third Fleet will also participate, using its “Landlocked Ship One” – essentially a ship sitting in the desert at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, with its own Skipper – as part of the exercise.
While PC21 had one element of a Marine Littoral Regiment, the plan is to scale that up to get elements from a Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California.
The Air Force brought individual fighter and bomber wings to support the exercise last year, but this year the event will include the Shadow Operations Center out of Nellis Air Base, Nevada. The service will use the event to experiment with what its next Air Operations Center might look like.
And while space assets were used in previous Project Convergences, in PC23 Space Command’s two-star level operational headquarters will participate, according to Magsig.
“In PC21, we did things in ones and twos. Some of that is because we wanted to do it both in simulation and do it live and when you are doing things live with million dollar missile shots, there’s a problem in terms of when you want to get at complexity, there’s a thing called cost,” Magsig said.
So in order to scale the exercise effectively and keep the evaluation process affordable, Magsig said PC22 will use validated data from the live exercises last year and will scale capability in simulation.
“The Ukrainians aren’t facing one missile a day. I think the last count I saw was something like 650 different types of missile strikes have impacted inside Ukraine,” Magsig said. So “if we go to war against China, it’s going to be worse. We could get 300 or 600 in the first 24 to 48 hours.”
Magsig stressed this doesn’t turn this into a “theory of war game” because of the live data collected in previous efforts accurately represent capability in a simulated environment through the Joint Systems Integration Laboratory.
“An adversary like Russia or China is going to come at you with a multitude of threats, ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles, cruise missiles, air breathing threats, and we’ve got to see where the joint force can both thwart the attack across multiple different attack vectors,” he said, “and when you look at what that means, we have to be able to take out the arrows and the archer. We’ve got to be able to destroy those, but then effectively counter attack against the archers that are getting prepared to fire the next salvo.”
The scale is “going to stretch the level of our networks,” Magsig said. Data will pass from WSMR to JBLM to Fort Bragg to Virginia and all the way to the West Coast.
“We’re going to be using simulation to stimulate our mission command systems and our weapon systems, passing fire control quality data across the network and then use that to engage in both offensive and defensive fires across the joint force,” he described.
New focus, new tech
While the exercise will focus on some use cases from the past year – like integrated air and missile defense and joint fires – it will also add at least one: contested logistics.
In PC21, the service experimented with prognostic and preventive maintenance sensors, “basically putting sensors on a range of vehicles and collecting that data, amalgamating it, aggregating the data and then seeing how we can get ahead of maintenance and where that data can allow us to save costs on maintenance and also raise our operational readiness levels,” Magsig said.
A surrogate of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected next-generation combat vehicle conducts a live-fire exercise during the Project Convergence capstone event at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. (Spc. Carlos Cuebas Fantauzzi/U.S. Army)
This year, the Army is trying to do the same across many more classes of supplies, such as fuel and ammunition. The Army is working to create a dashboard for commanders that show when supplies are running low and when they will run out or when parts require maintenance.
“Our operational commanders, our division and corps commanders are screaming for this capability,” Magsig said. “That’s a big effort and so if we eat half that cookie, I’ll be impressed and proud.”
Contested logistics will be evaluated in both scenarios, Magsig noted. San Clemente Island will be used to test some of the capability and could include the Army’s new Maneuver Support Vessel-Light, a watercraft with flexibility to be used to transport troops and for fire support and supply delivery.
The event will also include some Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office technologies, including offensive drone swarm capability and possibly the Mid-Range Capability missile expected to be fielded in 2023 and tech from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Overall the combined joint force wants to learn how to deal with large-scale complex attacks, how it can employ both lethal and non-lethal effects and “where our systems fail to overmatch our adversaries,” Magsig said.
“There’s a number X out there where our systems, our networks, will break down passing that much data; our systems, our radars get overloaded with tracks and there’s not enough missiles in our arsenals or depth of our magazines is insufficient or a combination of those things that will lead us to fail,” Magsig said. “And we want to know where we’re going to fail in Project Convergence and not on the day that our adversary decides to attack.” (Source: Defense News)
30 Mar 22. QinetiQ and Inzpire Limited Design and Deliver Innovative Synthetic Training Capability Concept Demonstration to the Royal Navy. A team of experts from QinetiQ and Inzpire has concluded the delivery of a Platform Enabled Training Capability (PETC) concept demonstration to the Royal Navy. The demonstration, which ran from 21 Feb – 24 Feb, delivered synthetic training to HMS KENT’s warfare team directly into the ship’s operations room. Using secure communications links from Portsdown Technology Park, QinetiQ generated a synthetic training environment that, through their advanced sensor emulators, was fed directly into the ship’s combat system. The exercise was then coordinated and directed by experts from Inzpire’s Maritime and Collective Training divisions, to generate an operational scenario which the ship’s team could interact with using their own on-board systems. To ensure the training met the Navy’s requirements, the team worked in conjunction with members of the Fleet Operational Sea Training organisation, to ensure the ship’s team were immersed in a realistic training mission in a representative environment, with accurate geography and relevant threats.
QinetiQ and Inzpire established an Exercise Control facility that included a dynamically controlled synthetic training environment, threat modelling and secure communications for voice, satellite and tactical datalinks, leveraging extensive infrastructure and capability already present at Portsdown Technology Park. A suite of sensor emulations interfaced with the ship’s combat system to safely present the complex, immersive and interactive training scenario to the audience in their own operating environment.
Inzpire personnel designed the exercise scenarios that included asymmetric threats, escorting of high value units, as well as more complex surface and air warfare situations; the preparation phase included research into real-world threats and geographic considerations to ensure the training was as realistic as possible. Inzpire also provided operational staff during the training delivery phase and data from the event was captured for replay, objective analysis and after-action review – a crucial component to any training event.
The demonstration was attended by a cross-section of Royal Navy personnel including Director Force Generation, Rear Admiral Moorhouse; Director Force Development, Rear Admiral Parkin; and the Deputy Director Future Training, Commodore Andy Cree.
Christina Balis, Global Campaign Director, Training and Mission Rehearsalat QinetiQ, said: “This demonstration marks a critical achievement towards the Navy’s future synthetic training capability and showcased the power of collaboration between the Royal Navy, QinetiQ and Inzpire in ensuring successful delivery.”
Nick Borbone, Head of Maritime Division at Inzpire, said: “Use of synthetics is ever more critical to training efficiency and operational effectiveness. This demonstration is an important step on the path to delivering realistic training to ships and task groups wherever and whenever they need it.”
The Navy’s Head of Future Training, Captain Dan Vincent, said: “This demonstration represents an important milestone for the future of naval collective training and the Defence Operational Training Capability (Maritime). It shows the technology is feasible and emphasises the importance of synthetics in getting the right training capability directly to front-line warships.” Platform Enabled Training Capability (PETC)
PETC is part of the wider Defence Operational Training Capability (Maritime) (DOTC(M)) programme which will enable ships crews to train together from their own operations rooms. To read more about PETC, click here.L: https://www.qinetiq.com/en/what-we-do/services-and-products/focus-on-training-mission-rehearsal
29 Mar 22. Turkish Aerospace develops supersonic target drone. A Turkish state-controlled firm claims it has developed a supersonic target drone, which is undergoing flight testing.
Turkish Aerospace Industries said in a promotion booklet that the supersonic drone is part of the SIMSEK High Speed Target Drone Project. TAI has also developed algorithms and payloads under the program.
A company official said the drone will be used in electronic assault, electronic support and decoy missions.
The 3-meter-long drone, now undergoing flight testing, features a mini-turbojet engine that helps it fly at least as fast as Mach 1.
The target drone will be launched from TAI’s other drones, the Anka and the Aksungur, as well as from other aerial assets. It will be controlled by Anka and Aksungur ground stations. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
29 Mar 22. Navies of Singapore and Thailand participate in Exercise Singsiam. The exercise enables the RTN and RSN to enhance interoperability and mutual understanding. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) are participating in the 20th edition of a bilateral naval drill, Exercise Singsiam 2022.
Hosted by the RTN, the exercise will run up to 30 March this year.
An opening ceremony co-officiated by RSN fleet commander rear admiral Saw Shi Tat and RTN fleet commander-in-chief admiral Suvin Jangyodsuk was held at Changi Naval Base on 21 March.
Saw Shi Tat said: “This exercise is a cornerstone of our bilateral relations.
“Both our navies have derived good value from exercising together and this is an opportunity for our officers and sailors to build friendship, mutual understanding and interoperability.”
Exercise Singsiam 2022 involves the participation of the RTN’s S-76B naval helicopter, along with the Naresuan-class frigate HTMS Naresuan and the Chao Phraya-class frigate HTMS Saiburi.
In addition, the RSN’s warships that are taking part include the Formidable-class frigate RSS Formidable, aboard S-70B naval helicopter, the Victory-class missile corvette RSS Valiant, and the Independence-class littoral mission vessel RSS Fortitude.
During the sea phase of the exercise, the RSN and the RTN navies conducted a range of conventional warfare and maritime training in the Malacca Strait and the Andaman Sea.
The training included maritime surveillance, gunnery firings, communication drills and manoeuvring serials. (Source: naval-technology.com)
30 Mar 22. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today it has recently established the 100th U.S. Air Force training site on the company’s Distributed Mission Operations Network (DMON), enabling Combat Air Force (CAF) crews around the world to securely connect with other sites in virtual training and exercises. More than a dozen additional Air Force sites are expected to become operational on the network later this year.
Northrop Grumman’s DMON connects dissimilar aircraft simulator platforms, allowing CAF crews to seamlessly interoperate and train together in a high-fidelity, realistic virtual environment. A handful of sites facilitate simulator manufacturer support, but the wide majority are located at Air Combat Command (ACC) bases and deliver next-generation training for aircraft including the F-35, F-22, F-16 and F-15 fighters, and B-1B and B-52 bombers.
“We are pioneering integration of 5th and next-generation platforms into joint and common synthetic training environments, paving the way for creation of a digital twin of the battlespace and rehearsal for future Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) operations,” said Christine Harbison, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “We continue to develop and provide open-architecture models and common standards, processes and tools for distributed mission operations (DMO) and the highest-fidelity live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training for aircrews and warfighters.”
The DMON enables affordable mission readiness, making more hours of training at reduced costs possible without expending live flight hours and taking aircraft out of service.
More than two decades of unparalleled LVC and Immersive Environment experience, including delivery of Air Force CAF and Mobility Air Force (MAF) training, give Northrop Grumman unique insight into development of future common synthetic training environments and systems.
Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.
28 Mar 22. Russia conducts military drills on Kuril Islands. The drill reportedly involves more than 3,000 troops, and an array of armaments. Russia is conducting military drills on the disputed Kuril Islands, close to the Japanese northernmost main island of Hokkaido, Reuters reported, quoting Russia’s Interfax news agency. The report said that the exercise involves more than 3,000 troops and large amounts of defence equipment. Russia and Japan are yet to sign a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities due to disagreements over the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands.
Russia recently suspended peace talks with Japan regarding the islands after the latter imposed a series of sanctions on Russian individuals, banks, and organisations, in response to Moscow’s ongoing invasion on Ukraine. Moscow has also withdrawn from joint business projects on the islands. According to Interfax, the military drills on the islands involved exercises to hone skills against amphibious warfare. This included destroying aircraft that transports troops, and operating fire control systems of anti-tank guided missiles, as well as engaging mock enemy aircraft. The Japanese media claimed that the exercises were being conducted on Tokyo-claimed territory. The Ukraine conflict has been ongoing for more than a month. Last week, the Finnish and British governments said that they will deliver additional military aid to the war-affected country. Finland did not close the contents of the package while the UK said it will be sending an additional 6,000 new defensive missiles and financial assistance for the Ukrainian military. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the government is planning to purchase a missile defence system to counter potential attacks. In an interview, Chancellor Scholz said that the potential acquisition is under consideration, but he did not specify any particular system. (Source: army-technology.com)
25 Mar 22. British Army trains in jungle warfare with Thai Forces. 120 Grenadier Guards have taken part in a jungle warfare Exercise in Thailand alongside the Thai Armed Forces. Exercise PANTHER GOLD 21 coincided with UK Defence Minister Baroness Goldie’s visit to Thailand. Her visit this week focussed on enhancing cooperation between the UK and Thai Armed Forces. Baroness Goldie met with Thailand’s Deputy Defence Minister, General Chaichan Changmongkol and signed the first Memorandum of Understand (MoU) between the UK and Thailand to deepen and enhance our Defence cooperation. The joint exercise saw Armed Forces training in jungle warfare tactics, navigation and survival techniques. UK and Thai troops worked side by side, learning from one and other’s skills and experience. Personnel on exercise also had the opportunity to train in Muay Thai – a martial art and combat sport practiced in Thailand.
Minister of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said: “Thailand is an important Defence partner for the UK in the Indo-Pacific. We are determined to continue to work together with our respective skills and expertise, supporting our shared values and addressing regional security challenges and global threats. This week’s joint exercise is a fantastic example of our troops working together, building their skills and capabilities in a harsh jungle environment. The MoU will strengthen our relationship with Thailand, with opportunities for further joint exercises, regular bilateral talks and shared best practice.”
Baroness Goldie is the first UK Minister to address Thailand’s prestigious National Defence College. She also hosted a reception and roundtable event to promote the British Defence industry in Thailand.
The enhanced cooperation between the UK and Thailand is part of the Government’s Indo-Pacific tilt outlined in the Integrated Review published in March 2021. The Indo-Pacific is an important region for the UK’s security interests, and we continue to build our relationships with like-minded partners who share our challenges and common threats.
The Defence Command Paper emphasised the need to improve the Armed Forces’ ability to operate in harsh environment around the world. This ambition is being delivered through exercises such as PANTHER GOLD 2021
Major Bayliss, Officer Commanding Support Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards said:
PANTHER GOLD is a demanding and challenging exercise being delivered in the northern jungles of Thailand.
The emphasis is on building our soldiers’ confidence in operating in this hostile environment and also building stronger relations with our Thai partners.
We can learn much from the Royal Thai Army and their ability to live and fight in the jungle. It isn’t all work – our visit here is also as soldier ambassadors, to learn more about Asian culture and to deepen our understanding of the country. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
25 Mar 22. USAF B-2 Spirit conducts training operations with RAAF fighter aircraft. The training helped increase interoperability and strengthen resiliency and cooperation between the two forces. A B-2 Spirit long-range bomber from the US Air Force’s (USAF) 509th Bomb Wing has conducted a training mission with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter aircraft. Carried out in the Indo-Pacific region, the mission saw the B-2 fly from the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to RAAF Base Amberley, reported technical sergeant Hailey Haux. The training operations were intended to enhance interoperability between the armed forces, as well as operate forward in the region.
US Indo-Pacific Command commander US Navy admiral John Aquilino said: “This is the most consequential theatre with the most challenging security issues…and advancing our interoperability with critical allies like Australia is critical to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“There are many aspects that are going on daily to continue to move the security relationship forward in a positive way to provide deterrence, prevent war, and maintain peace and stability within the region.”
The bomber trained with a total of eight aircraft, including two RAAF F-35A Lightning IIs, two EA-18 Growlers, two F/A-18F Super Hornets and two USAF F-16C Aggressors.
Prior to conducting training operations with the fighters, the B-2 performed an aerial refuelling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the Alaska Air National Guard.
Australia Air Commander RAAF air vice-marshal Joe Iervasi said that the engagement bolstered resiliency, capability, cooperation, and communication between the forces. The event also saw US airmen and RAAF security forces, fuels, maintenance, and firefighters conducting joint operations on the ground. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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