19 Nov 22. Royal Navy joins huge US-Japanese military exercise for first time. With 36,000 military personnel, 30 ships and 370 aircraft participating – drawn primarily from Japan and the USA, with Australia and Canada also joining in, the ten-day exercise is a major test of forces by land, sea and air. This year the ten-day military workout focused on a combined response to armed attacks aimed at testing the readiness of participating countries whilst improving the ability of the participating nations to work seamlessly together.
“For the crew of HMS Spey, the opportunity to take part in Exercise Keen Sword 23 has offered countless opportunities to further develop our ability to work together and continue our great working relationship with the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and the many other allies and partners participating in the exercise,” said Lieutenant Commander Bridget Macnae, the ship’s Executive Officer.
Departing the Japanese base in Yokosuka, Spey – paying her first visit to the land of the Rising Sun – sailed with Japanese amphibious/landing ship JS Kunisaki, to link up with the core exercise task group and one of the largest gatherings of military naval hardware in the region in recent years.
Twenty warships were spearheaded by a Japanese attack submarine and flanked by the combined strength of the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the Japanese Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo.
“It was really impressive seeing such a large mass of warships,” said warfare specialist Able Seaman Harry Cox.
“It’s not every day that we get to see such a gathering of ships from so many different navies come together. Being led by a Japanese submarine with an American aircraft carrier with their full air-wing embarked, just ahead of us made me realise the sheer scale of Exercise Keen Sword.”
The second stage of the exercise built up to a full-scale amphibious assault on to the island shores of Japan with HMS Spey standing coastal guard to provide protection for the larger units against small, highly- manoeuvrable fast attack craft. Meanwhile, Japanese and other partner shipping put troops, armoured vehicles, tanks and artillery ashore by helicopter, landing craft and hovercraft.
“Keen Sword has provided the opportunity for Spey to get involved in our largest multi-national exercise to date, building upon the successes and lessons learnt from previous operations with Japanese units,” said Lieutenant Kyle-Davidson, HMS Spey’s Operations Officer.
“In particular, it has shown that these Offshore Patrol Vessels can integrate into a joint American/Japanese amphibious task group and operate close to shore, patrolling the flanks of larger operations to police shipping and help maintain assault lanes.”
‘Keen Sword’ was first held in 1985, with field training and command post exercises – also known as ‘Keen Edge’ – alternating every year. This year’s event is the 16th such training exercise.
Her participation in Keen Sword over, Spey has remained in Japan, visiting the port of Kure which allowed the ship’s company to experience the culture, traditions and hospitality of the Japanese for the first time.
Young Officers undergoing training on Spey visited the Japanese Officer Naval Academy, Etajima – the Japanese counterpart of the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
Other sailors headed to nearby Hiroshima and remember the victims of WW2 in the city’s Peace Memorial Park.
“Getting the opportunity to visit Japan as part of my job in the Royal Navy has been amazing,” said marine engineer Engineering Technician Morgan Redman.
“It’s an extremely diverse country with so much history and culture, the Japanese people have been so welcoming and are incredibly gracious.
“Visiting Hiroshima was a huge privilege and the Peace Memorial Park was a very sobering experience that will stay with me for life.”
Spey is one of two Royal Navy patrol vessels deployed on a long-term mission to India-Asia-Pacific in company with her sister ship HMS Tamar, reinvigorating UK naval presence after a quarter century as part of the UK’s wider ‘tilt’ to the region. (Source: naval-technology.com)
18 Nov 22. Over 17 government agencies participate in Sea Vigil-22 exercise in India. The complete 7,516km coastline was under surveillance by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft. The third edition of the two-day coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil-22, which concluded on 16 November, saw participation from over 17 government agencies from nine coastal states and four union territories of India. The conceptual and geographical expanse of the 2022 edition of the exercise included contingencies ranging from peace to war-time across the country’s 7,516km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone.
This edition had witnessed the largest participation from all maritime security agencies, with over 500 surface assets from the Indian Navy (IN), Coast Guard (CG), States Marine/ Coastal Police, Customs, Forest Department, Port Authorities and private operators taking part.
The complete coastline was under surveillance by the IN and CG vessels and aircraft.
Helicopters were also put into service to support personnel of the Special Operations operating onboard offshore platforms.
During the Sea Vigil-22 exercise, the security mechanism of the ports was validated and the crisis management plans and their effectiveness was assessed.
The state police teams, Indian Navy marine commandos and commandos from National Security Guard were exercised so that they are well equipped to handle acts of maritime terrorism. The technical surveillance infrastructure, called the National Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (NC3I) Network, was also validated. In terms of coordinating the surveillance and information dissemination system, the Information Management and Analysis Centre (Imac) at Gurugram and its several points across IN and CG stations were also exercised. (Source: naval-technology.com)
17 Nov 22. Thailand takes delivery of Textron T-6C turboprop trainers. Thailand has taken delivery of its first Textron Aviation T-6C Texan II turboprop trainers, with the Southeast Asian nation planning to use them for training and as light-armed aircraft.
Two T-6Cs arrived at the Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF base Kamphaeng Saen northeast of the Thai capital Bangkok, with a welcoming ceremony attended by senior RTAF officials and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert F. Godec according to Thai defence blog thaiarmedforce.com.
Images and videos of the trainers released by the RTAF showed that they carried the U.S. civil aircraft registration N2773B and N2792B for their delivery flight
Thailand ordered 12 T-6Cs under a $162m contract in 2020. They’ll replace Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainers that equip one of three squadrons with the RTAF’s flying training school at Kamphaeng Saen.
Defense News asked Textron for comment regarding the delivery. The company had said in 2020 when announcing the order that the T-6C will be used by the RTAF as the platform of an integrated training system.
Thailand also ordered eight AT-6 Wolverine light attack aircraft, signing a $143 million contract with Textron in November 2021. The U.S. ally is the first customer for the type.
These aircraft will be delivered starting in 2024 and will replace the Aero L-39 jet trainer, president and CEO of Textron Aviation Defense, Thomas Hammoor, said in 2021, adding that the AT-6s will be used to support border security as well as for anti-smuggling, counternarcotics and anti-human trafficking operations.
Flight tracking website Flightaware showed that Textron’s AT-6E demonstrator aircraft is also in Thailand, having arrived at Chiang Mai airport on the 15th of November. The aircraft, which carries the U.S. civil registration N610AT, was then flown to Kamphaeng Saen.
The AT-6 Wolverine is developed from the T-6 airframe and designed for light attack, armed reconnaissance and counterinsurgency missions and can employ weapons included laser-guided bombs and rockets.
Textron also says that the AT-6 is fitted with an L3 Wescam MX-15D multi-sensor suite, which provides color and IR cameras, laser designator, laser illuminator and laser rangefinder for weapons targeting and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks. (Source: Defense News)
17 Nov 22. U.S. Carriers Participate in NATO Operation to Showcase Cohesion, Interoperability. U.S. aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush and Gerald R. Ford are now engaged in a regularly scheduled multination seafaring operation to showcase the cohesion and interoperability of participants. The operation takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and parts of the Mediterranean Sea, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said.
The maritime operation is formed around the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and also includes the Italian carrier Cavour, and the United Kingdom’s HMS Queen Elizabeth.
“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate credible combat power throughout the Euro/Atlantic area, while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Singh said during a briefing today at the Pentagon. “It is also an opportunity to test allied cooperation and to practice NATO’s deter and defend concepts across all geographic areas, operational domains and functional areas of the Alliance.”
On the other side of the globe, Singh said, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Japan Self-Defense Force have partnered up for Exercise Keen Sword 2023.
“This field training exercise will increase the readiness and interoperability of … and our Japanese and joint force partners in order to protect and preserve regional peace and stability,” Singh said. “This biannual exercise will test Marines and their Japanese counterparts in command and control of maritime strikes and amphibious force actions. This demonstration of stand-in force capabilities provides assurance to our partners and allies of readiness to rapidly counter aggression in the region.”
During this year’s Keen Sword 2023, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade and Marines from III MEF will conduct amphibious landings side-by-side in the vicinity of mainland Japan.
Poland Will Investigate Missile Strike
On Tuesday, a missile struck Przewodow, inside Poland, near its border with Ukraine. While there’s been speculation on what type of missile that was and who might have fired it, President Joe Biden has said, based on the trajectory of the missile, it is unlikely the missile was fired by the Russians.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also said the department has not yet seen any indication that might contradict the assessment from Polish President Andrzej Duda, who said the missile was likely launched by the Ukrainians as part of air defense efforts, and that it unfortunately landed in Poland.
Singh told reporters that Poland is conducting the investigation into the missile strike and the department is ready to assist, if asked.
“As you know, the Polish government is leading the investigation. We have full confidence in their deliberate manner and how they’re conducting the investigation,” Singh said. “The secretary spoke with his Polish counterpart earlier this week … the secretary made clear also here yesterday following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group that we’ve offered our support to Poland as they conduct this investigation.” (Source: US DoD)
17 Nov 22. Elbit Systems Joins Forces with Fokker Services Group. The “Elbit Systems – Fokker Services Group” team aims to provide advanced, cost-effective military flight training solutions, During the latest edition of NIDV’s Exhibition Defence & Security (NEDS) Elbit Systems and Fokker Services Group signed an agreement to provide advanced, proven military flight training capabilities. Under the cooperation scheme Fokker Services Group will add its considerable MRO expertise and capacity to Elbit Systems’ comprehensive portfolio of advanced, future-proof flight training solutions that can be optimised to meet domestic requirements.
Roland van Dijk, Co-CEO of Fokker Services Group, commented: “Our portfolio for special mission aircraft services and solutions is constantly expanding. By combining our maintenance expertise with Elbit Systems’ advanced military flight training capabilities, we offer defence customers a complete solution. This is the first step in this new collaboration, and in the future we will explore ways to further grow and combine the unique skills and capabilities of both companies.”
Adi Raviv, VP Flight Academies & Services of Elbit Systems Aerospace, added: “We are proud to team with the renowned Fokker Services Group. This latest cooperation is part of Elbit Systems’ wider strategy for the Dutch market with the company seeking to strengthen its partnerships with domestic industrial leaders. The overall goal is to improve Elbit Systems’ ability to respond to the Dutch customer’s needs in a customised way with regard to ongoing and future procurement programmes.”
Operating almost 200 aircraft around the globe, Elbit Systems has a proven track record when it comes to selecting, procuring, operating and sustaining fleets of elementary, basic and other training aircraft combined with 5th Generation in-flight and ground based training systems. Using flexible, cost-effective business models, Elbit Systems’ modern flight training approach allows its customers to focus on conducting actual training.
As an independent integrator, Fokker Services Group modifies and services transport, surveillance, other special mission aircraft and helicopters in addition to providing engineering services for various customers. Since 2017, Fokker Services Group has also delivered standard parts for the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF’s) aircraft, helicopters and multiple support systems. Providing the RNLAF with a single point of contact for all standard parts requirements, approximately 20,000 part numbers are included in the total support solution, with an on-time delivery performance of over 98%.
16 Nov 22. IFTS, Italian Excellence. A Virtuous Example of Collaboration Between Leonardo and the Italian AF. The International Flight Training School (IFTS) is an internationally renowned example of Italian excellence, a benchmark for the advanced training of military pilots from the world’s air forces who fly first-line fighters, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon or the F-35. One of the world’s most advanced campuses for top guns is under completion in Decimomannu, in the province of Cagliari.
The infrastructural works include the construction of a new logistics and maintenance centre, hangars and flight line for the school’s 22 M-346s, and the creation of GBTS (Ground Based Training System) facilities, inclusive of two Full Mission Simulators and three Part Task Trainer synthetic simulators for emergency management training modules and more advanced training missions, as well as classrooms and offices. These works come on top of those related to the logistic infrastructures (canteen, sports facilities) and the creation of around one hundred accommodation units for the Italian and international visitors who will be trained every year in Decimomannu.
This truly unique infrastructure boasts a very high degree of technological innovation, and will generate significant spin-offs for the local area, both in employment and economic terms.
Leonardo and CAE provide operational support to the IFTS through the ‘Leonardo CAE Advanced Jet Training’ joint venture. They do so via an integrated logistic support service, which optimises the management of fleets and simulators for maximum operability.
The school covers a total area of 130,000 sqm, equivalent to 18 football pitches. Approximately 35,000 sqm are dedicated to buildings currently under construction.
The project’s international value, the economic and employment spin-offs for the local area associated with an initiative of this scale, and the IFTS’s high level of technology, were the focus of the event held on Sunday, 13 November, at the Decimomannu base. The event was attended, among others, by the Vice president of the Sardinia Autonomous Region, Giuseppe Fasolino, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, General Luca Goretti, and, for Leonardo, the Chairman Luciano Carta, the CEO Alessandro Profumo and the General Manager Lucio Valerio Cioffi.
The first courses already started last July, and Qatari, Japanese, German and Singaporean air forces have already chosen IFTS for their pilots. The academy benefits from the Italian Air Force’s flight training expertise and tradition and from Leonardo’s advanced Live, Virtual and Constructive technologies, which allow students to interact, through a simulator, with pilots in the air during a training mission.
The real and the virtual merge into a single operational scenario in this integrated simulation environment. Pilots in the aircraft see on their visors what pilots in simulators see on their ground-based monitors. The reproduction of complex scenarios allows up to 10 friendly and enemy aircraft to interact as if they were all flying in the same patch of sky. To call it augmented reality is almost reductive.
This new training model raises training capabilities to an even higher level. It demonstrates Leonardo’s desire to strengthen its international competitive position as a Training Service Provider in the advanced training sector.
Aeronautics research and the ever-wider use of digital technologies will be crucial for operating in increasingly complex and competitive international environments. (Source: ASD Network)
15 Nov 22. Finnish Navy to participate in Freezing Winds 2022 exercise. The Finnish Navy is set to take part in the annual multilateral naval defence exercise Freezing Winds 2022. The exercise will be conducted from 22 November to 2 December in and around the Gulf of Finland and Archipelago Sea regions. It is expected to involve the participation of 5,000 coastal and land troops and 23 surface combatants, as well as transport, service and support vessels. The exercise aims to train the international forces to conduct joint operations in extreme weather conditions during the late autumn in the Finnish coast and Baltic Sea regions.
The ten-day activity will also see Finnish Navy personnel exchange skills and techniques with other international participating forces.
Finnish Navy Command chief of staff commodore Jukka Anteroinen said: “Our annual maritime defence exercise will provide a unique opportunity to rehearse demanding combat tasks in the harsh November weather conditions of the Baltic Sea.
“The involvement of the international partners is a very welcome addition for the Navy. Our joint training will increase the stability and security of the entire Baltic Sea region.”
The Freezing Winds exercise will also involve participation from Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1).
The SNMG1 comprises three naval vessels, one each from the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, while the SNMCMG1 consists of four warships from Germany and the Netherlands.
One US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the US Marine Corps’ 2nd Marine Logistics Group will also take part in the exercise.
In addition, Freezing Winds will include two of Sweden’s Visby-class corvettes, HMS Härnösanda and HMS Helsingborg, along with the Göteborg-class corvette HMS Gävle.
The exercise will also include the US Navy’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft, which will carry out maritime surveillance.
All participating vessels will berth in Turku, Finland, at the start of the exercise. (Source: naval-technology.com)
16 Nov 22. New SAN MMIPV in exercise points to possible non-availability of other platforms. The deployment of a new platform busy with operational testing and evaluation (OTE) for a naval exercise, while unusual should not raise eyebrows, is seasoned South African defence observer and analyst Helmoed Heitman’s view on SAS King Sekhukhune I’s (P1571) second NAVEX in short order.
After being the sole seagoing SA Navy (SAN) platform for Exercise Ibsamar in mid-October, the fleet’s first MMIPV (multi-mission inshore patrol vessel) will again be in action in False Bay for Exercise Oxide later this month.
The Franco/South African exercise is a regular with French forces in the Indian Ocean, based on Reunion, using the biannual event to improve co-operation and inter-operability, with piracy and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing high on the priority list. Oxide this year, according to SAN operational communications officer for the exercise, Sub-Lieutenant Judy Ann Baatjes, runs from tomorrow (Thursday, 17 November) to Monday week (28 November). Initial information supplied by Directorate Corporate Communication of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) had the exercise starting on 14 November and ending on 30 November “on the Cape west coast”.
The nuts and bolts of Oxide 2022 will be “various exercises” with search and rescue (SAR) the main objective.
This, Heitman sees not presenting major challenges to the crew and command of P1571 “provided the SAN feels the crew is far enough down the line not to embarrass it”.
He also sees employment of the new MMIPV as indicating “no other ships are or were available” for both exercises adding it “could” be why Brazil was not part of Ibsamar.
Going further into the current state of the SANDF, Heitman maintains all the services “have been reduced to ‘third world’ forces typical of the 60s and 70s, with unserviceable equipment, a large bureaucracy and a focus on everything but operational readiness”.
“The way it looks, I don’t see it being reversed any time soon,” he told defenceWeb, adding “people in uniform and even ministers shouldn’t be blamed”.
“If you do not get the funding to maintain equipment and train properly, that is the inevitable result. Look at the Bundeswehr for a similar situation – a few years ago the SANDF had higher availability of aircraft, ships and combat vehicles than the Germans who cut defence funding since the end of the Cold War with no thought to the outcome. They have now been caught flat-footed, as has South Africa with the situation in Mozambique.
“It does not help to keep harping on head count or the number of generals and admirals – the SANDF cannot shed enough posts to make a difference without massive funding for severance packages and without suffering a serious loss of both capability and capacity.
“While the top structure and supporting elements are clearly over-sized and over-ranked, the combat services are not wildly out of line with other armed forces.
“Nor does it help to blame National Treasury – obtuse though they undoubtedly are – because the blame rests squarely with the Cabinet and the President as Commander-in-Chief. They are responsible for deciding what level of defence capability the country should have and can afford and then either providing funding or accepting the risk.
“Instead they pretend South Africa is a regional power and provide funding at border guard levels. The result is what we see and the result is further seen in the casualties of Bangui and the present inability to respond effectively to the situation in northern Mozambique, not to mention the inability to patrol our waters and police our airspace.”
On people in uniform Heitman opines: “Yes there are dolts and crooks among them, but most I have met in my time working in and with the SANDF and the DoD (Department of Defence) showed me most of our soldiers – and airmen and seamen – are, to use a phrase often used by the late General Jannie Geldenhuys, doing the best with what they have. In fact, many deliver small miracles every day to enable the machine to function at all”. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
16 Nov 22. SAAF operational and training flying affected by “inadequate force levels.” Notwithstanding its prime fighter capability being grounded for at least six months of the 2021/22 financial year, the SA Air Force (SAAF) logged a credible 1 114 hours short of its self-set 12 100 force preparation target.
All told the airborne service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) planned to log 17 100 flying hours in the 2021/22 financial year according to the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report and fell just over 10% short of target across three named categories.
By far the majority of these were set to be force training hours (12 100) with aircrews using all SAAF rotary and fixed wing aircraft ranging from trainers, in the form of PC-7 Mk11s and Hawk Mk120s through to Agusta A107 light utility, BK117, Oryx and Rooivalk combat support helicopters as well as C-208, PC-12, C-212 and C-130BZ transports. The Gripens of 2 Squadron at Air Force Base (AFB) Makhado were grounded due to a lack of funding and maintenance and support contracts not being renewed timeously. This was rectified early this September with the sharp end of SAAF making a welcome return to the skies and being seen at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof.
The annual report does not give a breakdown of hours flown on type for the three categories of flying hours.
They are 10 986 hours for force preparation, 3 410 for force employment against a target of four thousand and 818 VVIP (target one thousand).
The report further notes: “Inadequate force levels of all aircraft systems continued to hamper the ability to fulfil required operational and training requirements. The reduced budget led to a decrease in force preparation hours and resulted in maintenance and servicing backlogs with less serviceable aircraft available”. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
16 Nov 22. Elbit Systems Delivered Command Staff Trainer to the Royal Netherlands Army. Elbit Systems completed the delivery of the Command & Staff Trainer system to the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA). The new training system operates at the Land Training Centre of the RNLA in Amersfoort. As large-scale exercises become less frequent due to cost, with logistical and environmental constraints, the new Command & Staff Trainer system provides the RNLA with a flexible and scalable solution to train commanders and their staff, together with support elements, for contemporary multi-domain warfare.
The new Command & Staff Trainer system is a constructive trainer that immerses commanders and headquarters’ staff, at both brigade and battalion levels, in high-fidelity combat situations in actual battle zone territory, and can include Operations Other Than War (OOTW) scenarios. The Command & Staff Trainer system presents trainees with a realistic operational picture, compels them to respond to real-time changes and interference with tactical communications, and enables them to operate and interact with a range of assets including Air ,Air defense, Unmanned, Artillery, Logistics, Medical, Mechanical, Engineering and others. The new training system allows multiple parties to participate in the same exercise as part of joint operation scenarios, including allied forces, paramilitary organizations and others.
Based on Elbit Systems’ OneSim™ simulation software-infrastructure, the new Command & Staff Trainer system supports large-scale geo-specific terrain, dynamic weather and thousands of virtual entities, offering an engaging training experience for more than a hundred of trainees at a time. The system emulates the realistic flow of information between levels of command and from a range of intelligence, target acquisition and fire functions, enabling complex, joint combat scenarios to be exercised. In-service tactical communication is simulated with performance realistically impacted by cyber, bandwidth, terrain, weather and other effects. The exercise director can introduce dynamic, on-the-fly changes into the simulation, allowing commanders to test their ability to react and adapt to the challenges of battle. The After Action Review and Debrief mode offers synchronized playback of the entire exercise, providing trainees with meaningful insight into the consequences of decisions and actions.
A similar training capability by Elbit Systems (the Brigade and Battlegroup Combined Arms Mission Training Center) is in operational use with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) since 2020. The IDF’s Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center was awarded the Commander-in-Chief 2020 Innovation Award for its originality, feasibility, scalability and extraordinary contribution for the over-all effectiveness of the IDF.
15 Nov 22. British Army Challenger 2s display firepower alongside allies in Poland. British Challenger 2 tanks have been showing off their firepower alongside allies in Poland. For the last three weeks, troops from A Squadron Queen’s Royal Hussars have been practising joint manoeuvres with soldiers from the US, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – 1,700 troops are involved in total.
Exercise Puma, in southeast Poland, is all about heavy armour with Leopard 2 and Soviet-era T72 tanks, plus BMP infantry fighting vehicles taking part.
Colonel Robert Berej, Commander 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade, the Polish Army, said: “Firepower is very important.
Nine Challenger 2 tanks from the Queen’s Royal Hussars have been taking part in the exercise.
“The war in Ukraine shows us everything, if you have the firepower you are more flexible. It’s a kind of show of force for Putin’s hordes.”
A Squadron Queen’s Royal Hussars have spent the last five months under Polish command, bolstering Polish defences after the country sent its own tanks to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
The exercise is being held just a few hundred kilometres from Poland’s border with Ukraine, playing an important role in public reassurance.
Major Charlie Gray, Officer Commanding, A Squadron Queen’s Royal Hussars said: “What’s really important for them is that they are also demonstrating this to the Polish people. Noting the proximity to what’s going on east of us, it’s very important they’re reassured at home as to what the defence of Poland looks like and what they can do.” (Source: forces.net)
14 Nov 22. Malabar multinational marine exercise begins in Philippine Sea. The exercise aims to foster a cooperative approach to promote an ‘open and free’ Indo-Pacific. The maritime forces of the US, India, Japan and Australia have begun the 26th iteration of the Malabar quad-nation exercise.
Led by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), this year’s exercise is being conducted offshore from Japan in the Philippine Sea.
It is the third time all four nations have taken part in the exercise series, which was previously a bilateral engagement between India and the US.
The opening ceremony of Malabar 2022 was held on 8 November and was followed by an at-sea phase, which involved various high-end tactical training drills.
These included air defence exercises, anti-submarine warfare, multinational replenishment-at-sea operations, submarine integration, communications drills, gunnery exercises and maritime interdiction operations, as well as other joint warfighting planning scenarios.
Participants from the JMSDF include the Asahi-class destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120), JS Takanami (DD 115), Hyuga-class ship JS Hyuga (DDH 181), JS Oumi (AOE 426) and one P-1 aircraft.
JMSDF Escort Flotilla-3 commander rear admiral Ikeuchi Izuru said: “Through this high-end tactical exercise, we were able to improve our tactical capabilities and strengthen cooperation with the US, India and Australian navies, thereby contributing to the creation of a desirable security environment for Japan.
“I also believe that this exercise embodied the firm and united will of the four countries toward the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The exercise also included participation from the US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG)-5, which consists of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the Arleigh Burke-class USS Milius (DDG 69) destroyer and the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), a Ticonderoga-class cruiser. Australian assets include the Anzac-class ship HMAS Arunta and the Collins-class Farncomb submarine, as well as a P-8A aircraft and a Stalwart (A304) tanker ship. The Indian Navy units include one Shivalik-class frigate, a Kamorta-class corvette, Marine Commandos and a P-8I aircraft. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Nov 22. Third edition of India’s Sea Vigil coastal defence exercise begins. The two-day exercise is conducted along India’s entire 7,516km coastline and its Exclusive Economic Zone.
The third edition of India’s two-day Sea Vigil-22 coastal defence exercise has begun and is due to take place from 15-16 November.
The national-level exercise aims to validate several measures that have been undertaken to improve maritime security since the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.
Coastal security is seen as an important subset of coastal defence and the Sea Vigil concept is intended to bolster and evaluate India’s coastal security mechanism.
The third edition of the exercise is being conducted along the country’s full 7,516km coastline, as well as its Exclusive Economic Zone.
It involves participation from all the coastal states and union territories alongside other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.
The Indian Navy is carrying out the exercise in coordination with the Coast Guard and other ministries responsible for maritime activities.
The Ministry of Defence described the exercise as ‘unprecedented’ in terms of its scale and conceptual expanse given the geographical extent and the number of stakeholders and units taking part, as well as the goals intended to be met.
Sea Vigil is seen as a build-up to the key Theatre Level Readiness Operational Exercise (TROPEX), which the Indian Navy undertakes every two years.
The two exercises encompass the whole spectrum of maritime security challenges.
Besides the Ministry of Defence, the exercise is also being facilitated by the Ministries of Home Affairs, Ports Shipping and Waterways, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries Animal Husbandry and Dairying, as well as customs and other agencies of state.
Although similar exercises are held regularly in coastal states at a smaller scale, the national Sea Vigil exercise aims to ensure preparedness and realistic assessments on a larger scale in the areas of maritime security and coastal defence.
Last week, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) opened a testing facility for the Indian Navy’s sonar systems. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Nov 22. RAF conducts A400M load and transport trials with Romanian Army. The trials were also witnessed by personnel from the US Special Operations Command Europe. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has carried out a series of trials with the Romanian Army to evaluate the capability of its A400M aircraft.
The trials were executed by the LXX Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton. It was performed at Mihail Kogălniceanu Airbase on the Black Sea coast.
The latest evaluation activity involved the participation of the Romanian Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, operated by its 8th Tactical Operational Missile Brigade.
The demonstrations involved loading the weapon systems onto the RAF’s future A400M military aircraft, which then performed flying operations and unloaded the weapon systems.
Besides, the transport aircraft fired a simulated missile strike before the final reloading and return to the base.
The main objective of the trials was to assess whether the RAF’s new military transport aircraft fleet is capable of loading and transporting the US’ weapon systems that are presently in service with various Nato allied and partner nations.
Personnel from the US Special Operations Command Europe were also present during the A400M aircraft tests. The team participated as advisors for the activity.
Trials Management Office Air Portability Section Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit flight sergeant Ellery said: “The greatest challenge is the initial assessment of any unfamiliar vehicle.
“Gathering all the data required to clear it, what are its dimensions? Tyre pressures? Weight? Dangerous goods contained within?
“Then we can ascertain whether the vehicle physically fits, isn’t going to strike any part of the aircraft as it’s loaded, isn’t going to overload floor capacity or aircraft compartment and can be restrained sufficiently for flight.
“In this case the US vehicle crew train to load and restrain the vehicle in conjunction with the aircraft loadmaster.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
14 Nov 22. US Air Force Pilots to Test XQ-58A Valkyrie. The 96th Test Wing acquired its newest aircraft, and along with it, a leading-edge experimentation effort last month. The 40th Flight Test Squadron took possession of the first of two government-owned Kratos XQ‑58A Valkyrie aircraft.
The Valkyrie is a low-cost, high-performance uncrewed air vehicle. It is rocket-launched off a rail system and is controlled from a ground station or airborne fighter. An onboard computer system is capable determining the best flight path and throttle settings to comply with commands.
The Autonomous Aircraft Experimentation team is using the 30-foot long XQ-58A and Eglin range for developmental ground and flight testing.
Because military ownership of the XQ-58A is new, much of the aircraft’s infrastructure and logistics have to be created from the ground up and will be recorded, according to Maj. John Nygard, 40th FLTS AAx team lead.
“When you combine the XQ-58A with the Eglin Range infrastructure, you get an uncrewed aircraft that enables real, open-air test of flight autonomy software capabilities while also proving out the resource requirements that could be used for future combat collaborative aircraft,” Nygard said.
The AAx team will test autonomous aircraft in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office.
“The data generated during previous tests, along with feedback provided from our user community, show that in order to rapidly develop and mature tactical autonomy on an appropriate timeline, investment in, and utilization of, appropriate military range resources is required,”
said Matthew Niemiec, AFRL autonomous aircraft experimentation portfolio lead.
Military range resources are a major reason XQ-58A testing found a home at Eglin. The Eglin Range communications support infrastructure will allow engineers at the ground station in the Central Control Facility to monitor the vehicle’s performance during flight. Additionally, autonomous aircraft operations, airspace, and safety processes have been developed to enable safe and effective flight testing for uncrewed air vehicles. The first flight is scheduled later this month.
Nygard described this new test as time-critical, with a lot to get done in a short amount of time.
“The goal by fall 2023 is to leverage this platform for experimentation with crewed-uncrewed teaming display solutions” said Nygard.
Additionally, the team is building out a data-storage and simulation environment to capture operator feedback and integrate their inputs into the autonomy software development process. The XQ-58A could host a variety of flight autonomy software solutions that were first tested in the simulator, including those from the Skyborg Autonomy Control System and others provided by third-party government and industry partners.
Niemiec said AFRL is working with multiple industry partners to integrate leading-edge autonomy capabilities onto the XQ-58A.
“The simulation investment enables us to focus flight test efforts of XQ-58A on developing the process to deliver autonomy software capable of accomplishing operator-defined missions to the warfighter,” he said. (Source: UAS VISION)
08 Nov 22. British Army Paratroopers are training in the North African desert alongside their Moroccan counterparts on Exercise JEBEL SAHARA. Soldiers from the British Army’s Global Response Force are putting their desert warfare skills to the test alongside their Moroccan counterparts on Exercise JEBEL SAHARA. The exercise has seen Colchester-based A Company Group, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (A Coy Gp, 2 PARA) working in Morocco alongside troops from 2e Brigade d’Infanterie Parachutiste.
For the British paratroopers, the three-week-long exercise near Marrakech provides an opportunity to learn from the Moroccan troops’ experience of operating in the hot, dry and demanding conditions of the desert. In return, they have shared with the Moroccans their hard-earned skills in patrolling, both on foot and in vehicles; marksmanship; demolitions; and casualty care. Troops also honed their fire and manoeuvre tactics on live-fire battle runs. The exercise is building towards a six-day war game with British and Moroccan troops fighting side-by-side to seize an airstrip to use as a base to launch strike operations from.
Major Ash Neve, Officer Commanding A Coy Gp, said: “Exercise JEBEL SAHARA is all about developing our readiness for operations, wherever and whatever is asked of us. We’ve been training on demanding and unfamiliar terrain and, by working side-by-side with the Moroccans, we’ve learnt from their experience of the desert and developed a cultural understanding that will help if we operate with North African troops in the future.
“What is also important is that we’ve trained how we would fight. We’ve taken an expeditionary approach, living in austere conditions and relying on the bare minimum that we’ve brought with us or can source locally.”
2 PARA’s Corporal Paul Burnell said: “It’s always interesting to come to a different country and environment to work with other countries’ armies. It’s about understanding different challenges, looking at how our partners operate and sharing skills.
“There’s been a really good relationship between us and the Moroccan soldiers. We’ve been playing football together and most of them speak some English, so we’ve been able to talk about our lives and careers.”
Combat medical technician Lance Corporal Charlotte Wrigley is delivering a team medic course to Moroccan paratroopers. “What we’re doing is building on the existing knowledge and kit the Moroccans have got to give them the skills to save a casualty’s life on the battlefield,” she said. “They’ve been very interested and keen to learn, and while the language barrier is there we can work around it.”
Morocco is a long-standing partner of the UK in North Africa, with the first bilateral Exercise JEBEL SAHARA held in 1989. Training together helps build shared skills and relationships between the two armies to improve their ability to operate together.
Lieutenant Colonel Omar Abou-El-Khebra, Commanding Officer of the 22nd Airborne Battalion, said: “Exercise JEBEL SAHARA is of capital importance as it allows the engagement on the ground of a relatively large number of troops to carry out various tactical missions.
“There has been a significant flow of military knowledge between the Moroccan and British soldiers, who share a relationship based on respect and the pursuit of excellence demonstrated during the execution of combined exercises.
“Military operations in a desert environment take on a particular character imposed by the nature of the terrain and the climate, which requires advanced physical and tactical skills that cannot be achieved without thorough preparation before engagement.”
2 PARA is training to serve as the lead infantry battlegroup for 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, which is held at very high readiness to deploy on operations anywhere in the world. The BCT is specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and air landing.
11 Nov 22. US DoD’s aerial exercise Checkered Flag 23-1 concludes.
Conducted at Tyndall AFB, the latest iteration involved participation of over 50 aircraft and 1,000 airmen. The US Department of Defence’s (DoD) two-week-long air-to-air exercise Checkered Flag 23-1 has successfully concluded at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.
The large-scale event provides an opportunity to integrate multiple units accompanied by various fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.
It improves the mobility, employment and deployment capabilities of the participant military aviators and maintainers.
Conducted between 31 October and 10 November, the latest iteration of Checkered Flag involved the participation of around 1,000 airmen and more than 50 air assets from the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The aircraft to undertake this rigorous flying operation included the E-7A Wedgetail from RAAF Base Williamstown, Australia, F-35A Lightning II from Hill AFB, F-22 Raptor from Joint Base Langley-Eustis and E-3 Sentry from Tinker AFB.
The fourth-generation aircraft, including the US Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, USAF’s F-16 Fighting Falcon from Tulsa Air National Guard Base, and F-15E Strike Eagle from Mountain Home AFB, also participated in the exercise.
During the exercise, all the participant aircraft were also engaged in the Weapons System Evaluation Programme-East, which is the USAF’s 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group-run air-to-air weapons evaluation programme.
Combining the two activities together allows the USAF to save various resources and provides enhanced training battlefield to support different aircraft and personnel from different services, countries and units.
Checkered Flag exercise has been designed to support the US Air Combat Command commander’s strategy to deliver training to the country’s Immediate Response Force, which is responsible for quickly undertaking worldwide missions in response to emergency situations.
Conducted twice every fiscal year, the activity is supported by team Tyndall AFB. The previous iteration was held earlier this year between 9 to 20 May. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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