12 Jan 23. US and Singapore commence bilateral exercise CARAT/MAREX.
The US has deployed its Wasp-class ship Makin Island, and San Antonio-class LPD John P Murtha for this exercise. Naval assets and commanders from the US Navy have been deployed to Singapore to participate in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX). The exercise, which is currently underway, is being conducted together with the Republic of Singapore Navy. This is the 28th iteration of CARAT/MAREX series, designed to strengthen maritime partnership and interoperability between US and Singapore. Additionally, the bilateral exercise aims to enhance regional security cooperation between the two nations. The US Navy has deployed its 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to take part in the drills.
Among the US Navy’s deployed assets are Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock vessel USS John P Murtha (LPD 26).
The two vessels are currently deployed under the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) for carrying out routinely operations in the US 7th Fleet area of operations.
Apart from LHD 8 and LPD 26, this ARG also includes amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23).
USS Makin Island commanding officer captain Tony Chavez said: “We value our longstanding relationship with Singapore founded on our shared belief that presence is vital for prosperity.
“This is the second iteration of the CARAT series the crew has had the opportunity to participate in. Each time we are able to operate with our partners it allows us to sharpen our skills and contribute to regional peace and security.”
The exercise will also involve a series of multinational drills, designed specifically to bolster capabilities of the US and partner nations’ naval forces to undertake collaborative operations.
The missions will primarily focus on addressing various traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges faced by navies in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Jan 23. Colombian Air Force to buy more T-6C training aircraft. The Colombian Air Force plans to buy four additional T-6C Texan II turboprop training aircraft from Textron Aviation in a potential deal worth $38.34m. The negotiations are part of an effort to acquire up to 24 of the trainers, unveiled by the Defense Ministry on Dec. 9.
Colombia previously ordered three T-6Cs in 2020 for $28.74m. That contract included the option for Colombia to buy up to eight more. The next year, the country ordered an additional four in separate contracts, with an aggregated value of $37m.
Six of the seven T-6Cs ordered from 2020 to 2021 have since been delivered. Colombia has started replacing its approximately 50-year-old Cessna T-37B trainers with the new turboprop aircraft. Colombia received Cessnas in 1969 and used them in advanced flight training.
While primary flight training in Colombia is currently provided by new Cessna 172S aircraft that replaced older Cessna T-41 Mescalero planes, basic flight training takes place onboard recently refurbished Embraer EMB 312 Tucano aircraft, supplemented with some T-6Cs, which in turn are mainly used for advanced flight training.
All fixed-wing flight training takes place at an international school run by the Colombian Air Force at its Palanquero air base. Apart from Colombian military pilots, trainees from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and El Salvador learn to fly there. The six T-6Cs already in service with Colombia are based at Palanquero.
Local military sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, told Defense News that the long-term requirement for 24 T-6Cs aims to include aircraft fitted with weapons for light strike missions.
According to the sources, the armed aircraft would be used for tactical combat flight training with a secondary light strike role. They would also replace A-37B light strike jets and supplement Colombia’s fleet of 24 Embraer AT-29 Super Tucano ground-attack and counterinsurgency aircraft. Colombia has considered buying an advanced lead-in fighter trainer, but the sources explained that wouldn’t happen until the country replaces its aging Kfir fighter jets. (Source: Defense News)
10 Jan 23. British soldiers practice modern battle skills with AH-64E aircraft. One of the key capabilities that aviation units adapted is countering enemy’s air defence systems. Soldiers from the British Army have recently carried out a series of training drills with new AH-64E helicopters, preparing it for future frontline service deployments.
The drills were undertaken by the UK’s 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, as part of the two-week-long Exercise Talon Guardian.
The activity allowed the British Army’s soldiers, who are responsible for operating the new Apache aircraft, to hone and adapt new skillsets and tactics for countering emerging battlefield adversaries.
It also maximised the capabilities of the aircraft.
Apache pilot captain ‘H’ said: “We have had to completely change how we operate, both in air and on ground, to best exploit AH-64E’s improved sensors, weapons, and communications systems, as well as its better flying performance.”
The army said that after the war in Ukraine, one of the key capabilities that aviation units need to adapt is countering uncrewed aircraft systems.
This will require the new helicopter’s pilots to maintain their operational readiness for undertaking missions against enemy’s air defence systems anytime, unlike the older Mk 1 variant that was majorly deployed in uncontested environments.
Similarly, the operations of Forward Arming and Refuelling Points have been upgraded to ensure that the associated support teams remain unnoticed from enemy drones.
British Army staff sergeant Steve Tymms said: “We are basically making appointments and if an aircraft turns up, we’ll give it fuel and weapons, but if not then we pack up and go to next location. It keeps us moving and we can do it without radio comms, so we’re much harder to target.”
Another adaptation was the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer soldiers’ capability to maintain helicopters from different concealed and dispersed locations, instead of a single centralised position. (Source: army-technology.com)
10 Jan 23. US NAVAF’s exercise Obangame Express 23 set to begin in Nigeria. OE23 will enhance regional cooperation among participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activities.
Around 29 nations’ naval forces are set to take part in the US Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) led international maritime exercise Obangame Express 2023 (OE23).
The 12th iteration of this exercise, which is being hosted by Nigeria, will commence on 23 January. It will be marked by an opening ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria.
It is being sponsored by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The participating countries are the US, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Morocco, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia, Sao Tome & Principe, Italy, Poland, Angola, Liberia, Benin, Namibia, Portugal, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau.
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will also take part in the exercise.
OE23 is being conducted to enhance the regional cooperation, tactical interdiction expertise and information-sharing practices between the participating forces to counter sea-based illicit activities, including Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The exercise will include various at-sea and ashore training activities that will be conducted in and around Gulf of Guinea and the Southern Atlantic Ocean.
It will also feature drills to exchange on medical casualty response, boarding techniques, radio communication, information management techniques and search and rescue operations.
NAVAF maritime headquarters director rear admiral Chase Patrick said: “OE23 provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation and share tactics, techniques and procedures for deterring transnational maritime security challenges.
“Together, we are creating a more secure, safe and economically prosperous maritime environment for Africa’s coastal nations and global community.”
OE23 is one of three NAVAF-led regional exercises that allows African and US forces to address various shared trans-national maritime issues and bolster maritime safety and security. (Source: naval-technology.com)
09 Jan 23. California ANG’s 146 AW breaks ground for new C-130J simulator site. The site will house the new Weapons System Trainer Reconfigurable C-130J flight simulator. California Air National Guard’s (ANG) 146th Airlift Wing (AW) has officially marked the start of construction of its new C-130J flight simulator site on the west coast.
The milestone was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony held on 4 January. It was originally scheduled for 5 January but was brought forward due to caution for unfavourable weather.
The new site at Channel Islands ANG Station will house the new simulator system, called the Weapons System Trainer Reconfigurable C-130J flight simulator (WST 12R).
The WST 12R will be used by the C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft’s personnel and airmen from across the US Air Force for a wide range of training purposes.
In comparison to old systems, the new simulator will provide more customisable training to the forces.
146th AW commander colonel Lisa Nemeth said: “WST 12R will enhance and modernise how our aircrew accomplishes its training because it’s first configurable simulator between ‘HC’ and ‘Slick J’ C-130J aircraft variations that can also be rapidly configured to facilitate training for C-130J block enhancements for 6.0 and 8.1.
“WST 12R’s block enhancements with modular, rapidly configurable options will immediately benefit C-130J flying wings, including the aircrews from the California ANG’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Field, which operates HC-130J Combat King II aircraft.”
The new system will be the first Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System virtual training simulator that will enhance 146th AW’s aerial firefighting training mission.
146th AW vice-commander colonel Christopher Dougherty said: “Based on historical data, we predict that WST 12R will significantly reduce travel, fuel and training travelling costs by an estimated $6.3m annually.
“Lastly, this simulator will virtually connect to other simulators and training locations to conduct formation airdrop training over a secure network.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Jan 23. USMC finishes four EOD training rotations to Thailand and Timor-Leste. The rotations in 2022 helped to develop a sustainable EOD capability via technical assistance and training to Thailand and Timor Leste.
US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, via the US Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Mine Action programme (HMA), has facilitated four rotations of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training to technicians of Thailand and Timor Leste last year.
The Humanitarian Mine Action programme helps to tackle the humanitarian requirements of countries affected by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) by implementing ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes of instruction intended to develop capabilities in carrying out a range of HMA activities within the host country.
US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Humanitarian Mine Action programme director Lt. Col. Daniel Cusinato said: “The Department of Defense’s HMA programme demonstrates presence and our dedication to developing critical capabilities within the US Indo-Pacific region.
“This programme presents our EOD Marines with a unique opportunity to grow and share information with our partner nations, ultimately enhancing the indigenous capability.”
Marines and sailors from both I and III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) teamed up with members of the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) and the Royal Thai Military Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) during these rotations to develop a sustainable EOD capability via technical assistance and training.
Entry-level students are taken in for the programme, which builds them into technical-level experts capable of carrying out a wide range of tasks needed of an EOD specialist within the five-year programme.
The I & III MEF Marines under the HMA programme carry out several rotations a year in order to continue the development of EOD specialists through classroom-based training and practical application.
Under the mentorship phase of training, marine EOD instructors choose top performing students to become the cadre who will then further be trained to become EOD instructors.
In this phase, the EOD teams also work along with partner nations to build an EOD curriculum upon which the chosen cadre will instruct under the host nation’s own EOD programme.
The HMA programme has helped in cutting down the count of UXO-related casualties and has bolstered MARFORPAC’s ability to work alongside partner nations, boost interoperability and cooperation.
Cusinato added: “The programme is mutually beneficial. HMA provides our Marines an opportunity to work alongside and learn from our partner nations and in turn develop a self-sustaining capacity to combat UXO.
“With the recent successes in developing the capacity and friendships with other nations, we are looking to expand our efforts and implement future HMA programs in other locations within the Indo-Pacific region.”