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16 May 19. UK and US pilots to prepare for frontline on state-of-the-art simulators. Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has announced that British pilots will be able to undertake simultaneous, virtual exercises with US counterparts based across the Atlantic using new cutting-edge simulation technology. Speaking on a visit to RAF Waddington today, the Minister announced a £36m contract for simulation technology which can replicate up to three real-life scenarios simultaneously and independently of each other, allowing US and UK aircrew to experience the same battle environment and threats.
The capability, known as ‘Gladiator’, will give the RAF unprecedented training flexibility, enabling pilots to exercise capabilities, tactics and procedures that would be impossible in the live environment due to airspace, aircraft availability, or security constraints.
Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “This synthetic training technology offers the RAF a cost-effective, powerful and safe way to prepare our aircrew for the complex threats they will face on the battlefield.”
The UK-US defence partnership is already the deepest and most advanced of any two countries and now our pilots will be able to train for the frontline more closely than ever.
The manufacture and design of the capability is expected to be completed within two years, with aircrew to start training on the equipment in autumn 2021.
Initially, Typhoon pilots will be able to fly virtual missions alongside their counterpart aircrews in America and interact with UK and US Joint Terminal Attack Controllers who direct combat aircraft from an advanced ground-based position. F-35 Lightning jets are expected to be added to the package by September 2021.
The RAF will also look to include Wedgetail early warning radar aircraft in the future, as well as upgrading the capability to enable the Royal Navy and the Army air assets to undertake collective training exercises.
The contract, signed with Boeing Defence UK, includes the design and manufacture of the simulation systems and software, and the first five years of support, sustaining up to 40 highly skilled UK jobs. The design and manufacture of the software will take place in Fleet in Hampshire and Bristol, and the equipment will be installed at RAF Waddington.
Flight Simulator and Synthetic Training Portfolio Team Leader, Russ Cole, said: “The award of this contract heralds a 21st century capability that will transform the ability of the RAF to undertake collective operations, tactics and procedures training in the synthetic environment that cannot be performed in the live environment. We are looking forward to working with Boeing over the next few years to design, build, deliver and operate a state-of-the-art training hub at the centre of a collective training web capability.”
Air Commodore David Bradshaw, Senior Responsible Owner for the programme said: “This contract award signals the go-ahead for the core element of the Royal Air Force’s future synthetic training capability. This new capability, known as Gladiator, will provide a step-change in the ability of our front-line Forces to train together in operationally realistic situations to meet an ever-increasing adversary threat.”
Combined with other Programmes that are delivering new aircraft simulators to front-line Squadrons, Gladiator will allow aircrew to hone their skills, training with colleagues and allies. Our crews will be better prepared for a range of current and potential scenarios they may face. Gladiator is the pathfinder programme for similar synthetic training solutions planned across UK Defence.
The Ministry of Defence continues to drive economic growth in the East Midlands, investing £896m with UK industry in 2017/18, supporting 6,100 jobs across the region. (Source: U.K. MoD)
16 May 19. Royal Marines undergo Small Craft Gunners’ course. British Royal Marines gunners and coxswains are testing their ability to hit enemy targets from their fast raiding craft as part of a training course off the Welsh coast. 539 Assault Squadron of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines and gunners of Air Defence Troop, 30 Commando IX participated in the course for two weeks. Training is being conducted as part of Exercise Dragon Fire.
During their stay at the Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, the forces fired on shoreline targets in the tactical phase of the exercises.
Marines used the fire support variant of the Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC) to fire on targets from the sea during day and night.
The ORCs have the ability to achieve a maximum speed of up to 50mph and can carry weapons, including general purpose machines guns (GPMG), .50 heavy machine guns (HMG) and grenade machine guns (GMGs).
The rough seas around the Welsh coast created an ‘ideal test scenario’ for the personnel who participated in the training. The boats are small in size and unstable in waters.
2 Troop 539 coxswain lance corporal Jake Fonseka said: “You definitely need to be aware of everything that’s coming in and understand how it will affect the craft that will in turn affect the gunners.
“There’s been quite a lot of sea state, so when we had more junior coxswains on the craft it’s quite key to get a grip on them to ensure they understand their situational awareness and pre-empt any waves heading your way, especially when the gunners are getting the rounds down.”
Following the opening two-week section of the Small Craft Gunners’ Course, the marines gained an initial level of expertise.
Forces will then return for the tactical phase of training that involves a ground combat element to test control and ability of marines to interoperate with forces allies. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 May 19. Let The (War) Games Begin: Army Buying High-Tech Training Sims. Next month, the Army will award key contracts for prototypes of a radically new set of networked training simulations, the two-star chief of the service’s training modernization task force told Breaking Defense.
“We were using 1980s and ’90s technology for our air and ground platforms,” Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais told me in an interview. In the decades since the Army bought those simulators, the commercial gaming industry has gone from the very first Pokémon game to immersive war stories like Call of Duty and virtual-reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. Sure, the Army requires a very different balance of realism versus fun, but “we can take advantage of the virtual and gaming industry,” Gervais said, as well as commercially available map data detailing potential conflict zones.
So, what’s happening?
- The Army will award at least one and possibly multiple contracts next month to develop a Common Synthetic Environment, the underlying digital foundation to be used by a wide range of simulators. It’ll provide everything from the virtual terrain to fight over, to the physics models that determine hits, misses and explosions, to the management tools that let soldiers design their own training scenarios, record how they play out, and put together after-action critiques.
- Later in June, the Army will contract for the actual aircraft and ground vehicle simulators that the crews will sit in to train. Instead of building different simulators for different kinds vehicle, the idea is to build a single Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT) Ground for armored vehicles that can be set up as an M1 tank, M2 troop carrier, or even future Next Generation Combat Vehicles yet to be designed. Likewise there’ll be a single RVCT-Air that can be reconfigured to simulate different kinds of aircraft.
- The Army and Marines are already fielding a Squad Advanced Marksmanship Trainer for foot troops. SAM-T, which came out of the former Sec. Mattis’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force, immerses the users in a virtual environment by projecting it all around them on large screens. But in the long run, the Army wants a Squad Virtual Trainer that lets soldiers wearing augmented reality goggles connect to the Common Synthetic Environment. That will allow infantry squads to train alongside vehicle crews in complex virtual battles.
All of these contracts will use the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) process to bypass the laborious bureaucracy of the standard defense acquisition process. The goal? To help encourage tech-sector innovators not used to doing business with the Defense Department. All the vendors will be required to conform to a common set of standards the Army is developing over the next six to nine months, she said: “We don’t want anything that’s proprietary.” That approach, called modular open architecture, should make it possible to plug-and-play products from different companies, much the way an iPhone can take apps from any vendor that meets Apple’s standards.
If all this works, it’ll be a huge improvement over the current hodgepodge of more than 100 often-incompatible training systems. A particularly tricky problem: since different simulators for different weapons systems were built at different times and often by different companies, it can be extremely difficult to network them together so the crews of different kinds of vehicles can practice fighting in a combined arms team. But that kind of cooperation is essential to learning and practicing real-life tactics.
In one particularly glaring case, Gervais once told me, helicopter pilots thought they were well-hidden behind hills and trees, but anti-aircraft gunners in the same virtual battle could see the helicopters hovering in the open and shot them down. Why? Because the two types of simulators used incompatible terrain databases.
The new simulators should also be smaller, cheaper, and easier for soldiers to operate without specialist contractor support, Gervais said. While the old clunkers had to be housed in warehouse-like facilities staffed by technical support contractors, with combat units having to wait their turn to train, the new sims could be issued to individual tactical units to practice whenever they want. And they could be ten networked together with other units for larger-scale virtual exercises.
Troops have already gotten their hands on many of the potential competitors’ simulators, Gervais said, in a series of more than 20 “soldier touchpoints.” Potential reconfigurable ground trainers, in particular, got checked out by tank, Bradley, and Stryker soldiers at Fort Riley, Kansas. Army helicopter crews from Fort Carson, Colorado are now looking at potential air trainers.(The equipment for these events was also brought in under OTA contracts). Meanwhile Gervais’s Cross Functional Team is poring over software options at their new Orlando headquarters.
When the soldiers saw problems, such as insufficient realism, they quickly reported them to Gervais’s team and the vendor representatives working right alongside them to get things fixed ASAP. They’re also coming up with ways to use the technology neither the manufacturers nor their superiors had thought of. The younger officers and enlisted she watched try out the tech, Gervais told me, were “very comfortable with it…. They see the benefit of using it immediately.”
That said, it won’t be until late 2021 that the Army issues the first full-up systems, fielding them to combat battalions at five locations to be determined. That’s lightning fast for a military procurement program, but slow for Silicon Valley: Can we go any faster?
“When we go into production, we can shorten that timeline,” Gervais said — but that’ll mostly speed up fielding to other units after 2021. Truncating the testing and evaluation before the system’s ready to field raises the risk of buying the wrong thing, she said.
“What I want to do make sure we have soldier touchpoints in place,” she said. “What I don’t want to do is shorten the evaluation.”
Yes, the Army’s in a hurry, but the one thing Gervais will not shortcut is giving real soldiers a chance to give feedback on the gear they’re going to use. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
15 May 19. India flight-tests locally designed high-speed aerial target. India’s government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested its Abhyas High-speed Expendable Aerial Target from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, eastern India, on 13 May. The Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) said that Abhyas is configured on an “in-line, small gas turbine, and uses an indigenously developed MEMS [micro-electro-mechanical system]-based navigation system for its navigation and guidance”.
Under development since 2012, Abhyas is designed to simulate aircraft for endo-atmospheric, surface-to-air, and air-to-air interception missile testing.
It features an adjustable simulated radar cross-section with a Luneburg lens in its nose cone to improve the target’s radar reflectiveness, and an acoustic miss distance indicator (AMDI) system. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 May 19. Spring Storm: British Army on Exercise in Estonia. Units Deployed on Op CABRIT Take Part in NATO Exercise. According to different sources somewhere between 700 and 1,000 British military personnel are taking part in Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia. Ex Spring Storm sees as many as 10,000 troops from 15-17 NATO countries and allies training for rapid deployment kilometres from the Russian border.
NATO is capable to defend against any adversary.
“Spring Storm shows NATO is capable to defend against any adversary”, said NATO deputy spokesman Piers Cazalet. “It tests how well our forces work together and it is a strong expression of Allied solidarity”.
British Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster witnessed the depth and breadth of the UK’s longstanding defence relationship with Estonia first-hand after visiting deployed UK personnel this week.
Mark Lancaster visited Royal Air Force Typhoons patrolling Baltic skies as part of the Alliance’s Baltic Air Policing mission, met British Army personnel contributing to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup and flew in one of the Wildcat helicopters recently deployed to Estonia alongside Apache helicopters as part of the UK’s recent uplift in military assets under codename Operation CABRIT.
The Armed Forces Minister said: “The blue, black and white of Estonian flag is said to represent the Baltic sea, its forest soil and its open skies. Our commitment to Estonia is resolute and this year our sailors, soldiers and airmen will work side by side with our Estonian allies providing vital deterrence and reassurance at sea, on land and in the sky.”
On his visit, the Armed Forces Minister also had the chance to witness the Estonian Defence Forces and NATO soldiers training together on Exercise Spring Storm, a major Estonian-led exercise featuring 10,000 personnel. Soldiers from France joined the King’s Royal Hussars and Estonian troops as part of UK-led eFP battlegroup.
Mr Lancaster also met Estonian defence minister Juri Lurik and the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Martin Herem, to discuss the enduring UK-Estonian defence relationship.
The Estonian 1st Infantry Brigade and 2nd Brigade were split into groups to conduct a range of scenarios, which involved exercising in civilian populated towns and rural environments.
It’s been fast and furious.
Lieutenant Colonel Angus Tilney, the Commanding Officer of the Kings Royal Hussars said the exercise is an “amazing opportunity”.
Operating just 15 kilometres from the Russian border, Lt Col Tilney said: “It’s been fast and furious. Working on open streets, towns and roads of Estonia is a unique experience. I’ve never done anything like it before in 18 years of an Army career.”
Armed Forces Minister, Mark Lancaster was ‘impressed’ with the involvement of British personnel, having visited them as they completed the first half of the exercise.
“To see the ability of our troops within a NATO context training together is really powerful. I think the presence we have here is really important,” Mr Lancaster said.
During his visit, Mr Lancaster promised Britain’s military presence would remain in Estonia for the “foreseeable future”.
But he told Forces News the exercise was not being used to antagonise Russia.
“This is not a provocation,” he said.
“This is simply a deterrence and NATO is a defensive organisation and it’s right that we should be able to exercise with our allies.”
Ground forces will also be supported by RAF Typhoons, UK Wildcats and Apaches.
It’s the largest exercise conducted by the Estonian Defence Force, and it’s used to give a snapshot of how the force operates.
General Indrek Sirel, the Deputy Chief of Defence for Estonia, who organised the operation said: “This exercise is an important part of our annual training cycle. We are training all the elements of which the Estonian Defence Force consists of.”
These elements included how the force communicates and operates with allied partners.
The UK’s leading role in NATO and its support to the Baltic region will be further bolstered this week when HMS Westminster arrives as part of the NATO Standing Maritime Group 1. Further Royal Navy deployments will take place this summer during Baltic Protector, a Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) deployment that will see some 3,000 troops and 20 vessels from JEF partner nations exercise with each other in the region. (Source: Warfare.Today/U.K. MoD))
15 May 19. Hungarian Air Force helicopter pilots train for collective and tactical operations with Thales solution. A NATO member since 1999, the Hungarian Air Force needs to train its Mi-24 attack helicopter and Mi-17 transport helicopter aircrews for NATO-led collective and tactical missions. The Hungarian Defence Forces also need to train helicopter crews for homeland defence operations.
In 2018, Hungary acquired a Helicopter Mission Trainer (HMT) from Thales. In service with the Hungarian Air Force from early 2019, the HMT trainer has been used for many years by French Army Light Aviation (under the name EDITH) to enable pilots to acquire and develop the tactical skills they need for collective operational missions.
Thanks to Thales’s expertise in simulation, the Hungarian Defence Forces will now be able to improve the tactical training of attack helicopter aircrews. The HMT trainer designed and delivered by Thales allows aircrews to train collectively in a diverse array of programmable tactical scenarios, such as combat search and rescue, airland and naval operations or even commando insertion / extraction.
The HMT trainer can be configured to allow individual pilot and commander training as well as training of entire helicopter aircrews for collective operations, such as multicrew and multiplatform coordination. Thanks to the system’s innovative design, each trainee station is fully reconfigurable to simulate different multirole helicopter types, with pilot and copilot in side-by-side position or attack helicopters with front-behind layout. It features virtual reality gunner stations so that rear aircrew members can be included in the collective training. It provides the tools needed for mission debriefing and after-action review. And its compatibility with the Distributed Interactive Simulation and High-level architecture standards offers huge scope for interconnection with other systems as part of broader combined arms training.
The HMT trainer’s highly realistic virtual environment leverages the ThalesView™ image generator and the Computer Generated Forces (CGF) Artificial Intelligence software suite from Thales, with smart animation of multiple virtual entities to create a wide variety of training scenarios, enabling aircrews to acquire and develop the tactical skills they need at every decisive moment and prepare for mission success.
14 May 19. Saab wins UK order for AUV62-AT. Saab’s business area Dynamics is to supply its AUV62-AT anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training system for the UK Royal Navy (RN). Delivery is expected to take place later this year. The contract has been received in collaboration with the UK technology and services group QinetiQ. Saab’s AUV62-AT autonomous underwater vehicle system has been designed as a cost-efficient training tool to enable ASW units to train in a wide range of scenarios. The procurement follows a period of testing and evaluation together with QinetiQ and the RN. Under these demonstrations, the AUV62-AT was used in a series of training scenarios.
QinetiQ operates the UK’s underwater ranges as part of a long-term partnering agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 May 19. Thales continues to support Australia Defence Force’s Helicopter Aircrew Training. After rigorous testing, the Australia Defence Force’s new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) reached Initial Operating Capability in March. Delivering a world class training environment for Australia’s future helicopter pilots, aircrew and aviation warfare officers.
Thales in Australia was subcontracted to Boeing to provide the synthetic and classroom training environment for various aircrew roles. Working together, Thales and Boeing designed the training system to prepare Australian Navy and Army aircrew for the transition into complex combat helicopters.
Thales delivered three Level B qualified Reality H Full Flight Simulators, virtual reality trainers for marshalling and rear-crew training, and part task trainers and desktop trainer classrooms for tactical, sensor and communications training. Thales also delivered the Joint Helicopter School ICT system and the curriculum for a variety of aircrew roles.
In 2018 the ADF Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) acquisition program team, was awarded the Essington Lewis Award recognising excellence in collaboration between Industry and the Department of Defence.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne explained: “The HATS project overcame significant early delays to commence training on time, demonstrating what can be achieved when Defence and industry co-operate closely.”
Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said that the HATS project is a great demonstration of how industry can collaborate to provide the most innovative and comprehensive support to the Australian Defence Force.
With final acceptance for the HATS capability being achieved on the 14th March 2019, Thales in Australia is now in the position to continue to support the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) helicopter aircrew training. HATS is capable of providing training up to 130 students per year, being a mix of Pilots, Aviation Warfare Officers, Sensor Operators, and Aircrewmen.
13 May 19. US and partner nations participate in exercise Formidable Shield. The US and eight partner nations are taking part in a 12-day Nato exercise Formidable Shield, which is being held at the UK’s Hebrides Range in the Western Isles of Scotland. The US Navy-led exercise is a live-fire air and missile defence drill and involves the participation of ships from nine Nato countries. A total of 13 ships, ten aircraft, and around 3,300 personnel will take part in the drills. The participating nations are Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK, and the US.
Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “Formidable Shield shows how allies are working together to protect Nato forces and populations from the real threat of ballistic missiles.
“This is one of the world’s most sophisticated and complex air and missile defence exercises and a great example of how allies are continuing to adapt to meet current and future security challenges.”
During the exercise, the participating ships will detect, track and defend against an array of anti-ship and ballistic missiles using Nato command and control procedures.
The exercise is taking place over a huge area in the North Atlantic. It will also see the vessels perform various drills including sharing real-time tactical information, conducting joint mission planning, and engagement coordination. In addition, the drills will be supported by maritime patrol aircraft and Nato AWACS surveillance aircraft. The aircraft will be responsible for providing aerial over-watch and making sure the airspace is clear. Formidable Shield will run until 19 May and is being conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces Nato on behalf of the US Navy. In 2010, Nato decided to ensure increased protection for European Allies from ballistic missile threats. (Source: naval-technology.com)
12 May 19. US defence groups in running to take over Royal Navy training. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin up against Babcock for £2bn contract. American companies are in the running to take over the training of UK Royal Navy recruits after the Ministry of Defence chose two US groups to compete for the lucrative contract. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, two of the world’s biggest defence companies, are pitted against the British defence group Babcock International for the programme, which is estimated to be worth up to £2bn over the next 12 years. The three companies were selected this year and negotiations are now ongoing. The wide-ranging project, nicknamed Selborne, will bring together a number of existing contracts with the aim of delivering all levels of naval personnel training, according to a contract note for prospective bidders. This includes all operational sea training, and training and simulation in military electronic systems. The contract is due to start from 2021. Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon already provide training and logistics support for the US military. Raytheon trains the US Army under multiple contracts. Richard Daniel, chief executive of Raytheon UK, said the company’s experience of commercial training for car companies was beneficial for its bid. “We are going to take the transformational techniques that we have learnt for commercial training such as General Motors and Honda and combine that with our logistics [expertise],” he told the Financial Times.
Recommended UK defence spending Drones plan stokes fears of UK defence on the cheap “You can’t train navy officers and people in the Royal Navy the same way as they have always been trained,” he added. The company is working on the bid with British outsourcer Capita, which has come under fire for a number of high-profile contract failures in recent years. Mr Daniel said the criticism was something “we have been monitoring quite closely” but insisted that he had been “comfortable about what they [Capita] have been doing”. Raytheon, which is best known for its Patriot missile defence system, is among a number of US defence companies looking to expand its UK presence. It has invested more than $200m in the UK since 2015 and its British subsidiary has an annual turnover of about $600m. Given the MoD’s tight budget, Mr Daniel said one of the challenges for companies such as Raytheon was “how do you provide sovereign capability with a relatively small demand at an affordable price”. Babcock, which currently provides large parts of the Royal Navy’s training programme, confirmed it had been selected to bid. The FTSE 250 group is working with defence group Qinetiq, IT company Centerprise International and the Universities of Portsmouth and Strathclyde. Lockheed Martin, which builds the F35 fighter jet, also confirmed that it was in the running for the MoD contract but gave no further comment. (Source: FT.com)
14 May 19. VBS3 Simulation Software With New Functions. Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) has released a new version of its simulation software Virtual Battlespace VBS3. Version 18.3.4 brings improvements to the subsystem VBS Radio, the simulation of radio and voice communication contained in VBS3 as well as new representations of British and Russian military vehicles and new terrain sections.
VBS Radio has been improved in terms of performance, stability and ease of use. Settings from previous versions can be imported.
The new vehicles in the simula_ tion palette include the Titan bridge layer, the AW159 Wildcat helicopter in Army (AH1) and Naval (HMA2) versions, logistic vehicles from Rheinmetall Military Vehicles as well as armoured infantry fighting vehicles and anti-aircraft vehicles from the Russian operational environment in addition to several protected wheeled vehicles. The three new terrain sections are from British territory. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
Meggitt Training Systems, makers of FATS® and Caswell technologies, a division of Meggitt PLC, is the leading supplier of integrated live-fire and virtual weapons training systems. Meggitt Training Systems continues to grow its capabilities based on the legacy of these two industry leaders.
Over 13,600 Meggitt live-fire ranges and 5,100 virtual systems are fielded internationally, providing judgmental, situational awareness and marksmanship training to the armed forces, law enforcement and security organizations. Meggitt Training Systems employs more than 400 people at its headquarters in Atlanta and at facilities in Orlando, Canada, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, UAE, Australia and Singapore. It can deploy service personnel anywhere in the world for instructor training, system installation and maintenance. Learn more at https://meggitttrainingsystems.com/.