08 Feb 23. Nato MRTT conducts aerial refuelling training with German fighters. The exercise was conducted to train the participating fighter pilots and refuelling crews to undertake AAR missions.
The NATO Allied Air Command (Aircom) has announced that an A-330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft performed air-to-air (AAR) refuelling training with German fighter jets.
The training event was conducted on 6 February. It was organised by AIRCOM in collaboration with European Air Transport Command (EATC) and the multinational MRTT fleet (MMF) unit.
The EATC and MMU were responsible for the planning, preparing, coordinating and facilitating of the associated AAR support for the participating assets.
The exercise involved the participation of an A-330 tanker aircraft to perform several refuelling runs with a total of eight Eurofighter aircraft, deployed for this event from the tactical air wings 31 and 71.
The participating aircraft took off from the MMU Cologne forward operating base at Germany’s Special Air Mission Wing towards a training area above the northern German region for performing the planned training aerial refuelling activities.
MMU flight commander Lieutenant Colonel N said: “Today, we provided critical training to German fighter pilots.
“The pilots of the ‘receivers’ practised refuelling tactics, techniques and procedures allowing them to apply these in real-world missions. It has also been an excellent opportunity for our own air refuelling operators to simulate this tactical environment and help keep their skills current.”
This exercise was conducted to train the participating fighter pilots and refuelling crews to undertake AAR missions in a tactical environment.
09 Feb 23. Pakistan set to commence multinational exercise Aman 2023
This will be the eighth iteration of Aman exercises and will be carried out from 10 to 14 February. The Pakistan Navy is set to commence its biennial muti-national maritime exercise, Aman 2023, in and around the waters near Karachi, Pakistan. According to a media briefing, Pakistan Navy fleet commander vice admiral Ovais Ahmed Bilgrami said the exercise will be carried out from 10 to 14 February.
Aman 2023 will be held in two phases, harbour and sea.
It will involve participation of various naval vessels, special operation forces and air assets from around 50 different countries.
Bilgrami also said that the latest iteration of exercise will involve a series of training drills to counter terrorism, piracy, narco-arms trafficking and climate change.
Aman 23 will be the eighth such event to be held under the Aman series of exercises that were launched in 2007.
This series of exercise aims to enhance cooperation and interoperability among the multinational maritime forces to further strengthen and maintain regional stability.
Bilgrami said: “Our interests are based on three major factors. Firstly, our extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade; secondly, operationalisation of CPEC project and thirdly, our strategic location astride the global energy highway.
“Cumulatively, these realities make maritime stability a vital national security interest. We realise the importance of maritime security not only for Pakistan but for all other countries whose prosperity and progress are tied to the seas.”
According to the Pakistan Navy, the Aman series of exercise allows the participating forces to enhance mutual understanding, exchange information and provides an opportunity to identify various areas of mutual interest in terms of maritime security and peace.
Apart from counter terrorism and humanitarian assistance operations, the activities will involve several Response Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures training events to counter other traditional and non-traditional threats. (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 Feb 23. SANDF declined exercises with US, but proceeding with Russia and China. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been offered opportunities to carry out naval exercises with the United States, but declined, and is instead proceeding with Exercise Mosi II with Russia and China later this month.
This emerged during a media briefing last week with Rear Admiral Chase Patrick, Director, Maritime Headquarters, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, who spoke to the media about Exercise Obangame Express 2023, which has just concluded in Nigeria.
“We do invite South Africa to our exercises, and they’ve, as I recall, have declined to participate in those. We do have upcoming exercises, for example Cutlass Express, which is focused on some of our partner countries on the eastern side of Africa which I think would have been a really good place to involve South Africa, but they’re just – they’re not playing in that exercise this year,” Patrick said.
He added that “in terms of our relationship with South Africa, we’re always keen to build – to building and growing that relationship. We do make it a point to send our ship in port to that country anytime that we circumnavigate the continent. And in fact, we did have the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams there just – I think just this past fall…and that’s not the first time we’ve done that. So any opportunity we get to actually exercise with our partners in South Africa, we do seek that.”
South Africa’s decision to host Exercise Mosi II with China and Russia between 17 and 27 February off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal coincides with the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, and this has drawn criticism from some quarters.
Kobus Marais, opposition Democratic Alliance party Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Affairs, has said the exercise “could further alienate SA from our largest and most important trading partners.”
He also criticised the SANDF’s decision not to allow media onto ships during the exercise, condemning the lack of transparency, and suggested the ANC government is ashamed of how it’s let the military and its capabilities go to waste.
The Russian Navy will be sending the frigate Admiral Gorshkov to South Africa and Russian news agency TASS last week reported that it will perform a training launch of a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic missile during Exercise Mosi II. An unidentified official said this would be the first-ever event of its kind, but the launch has not been officially confirmed.
The Zircon surface-to-surface hypersonic missile has a range of around 400-1 000 km at speeds of Mach 5, although a speed of Mach 8 has apparently been achieved in testing. The weapon was test-fired from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov from January 2020 and is expected to enter service this year, when it will arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines.
The upcoming Exercise Mosi II and January’s visit by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov have shone the spotlight on South Africa’s foreign policy, which maintains strong economic and political relations with the global north as well as the global south, but experts fear the shift to Russia, Cuba, and China could alienate the country’s biggest Western trading partners. South Africa has been reticent to criticise Russia openly for invading Ukraine. The country abstained during each vote criticising Russia at the United Nations. Some have read this as tacit support of Russia.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, paid a visit to his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor at the end of January for the 15th session of the SA-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue and said that, “We have always respected South Africa’s traditional non-aligned stance in foreign policy. The European Union doesn’t ask Africa to choose sides. We are just asking all the countries in the world to stand on the side of the United Nations Charter. Nothing more. But nothing less.” He also urged South Africa to use its close ties with Russia to push for peace in Ukraine.
Last month the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans explained the decision to proceed with Mosi II. “The envisaged exercise will benefit all countries involved through interoperability of the naval systems, joint disaster systems management enhancement, maritime cooperation and anti-piracy exercises,” said Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise. In addition, Exercise Mosi II will serve as a platform for the three nations to share operational skills, expertise and experience, the Ministry added, with the exercise set to “benefit all three participating nations”.
The Ministry of Defence stated that, “contrary to the assertions by our critics, South Africa is not abandoning its neutral position on the Russian-Ukraine conflict. We remain firm in our view that multilateralism and dialogue are keys to unlock sustainable international peace. We continue to urge both parties to engage in dialogue as a solution to the current conflict.”
Pointing out its other defence diplomacy ties, the Ministry reported engagements with counterparts in recent months in the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. “There was no hype about any of these countries, especially with regard to the USA wherein we held an even longer exercise, known as Exercise Shared Accord in KwaZulu-Natal last year regarding our military health capabilities.”
Defending Mosi II as business as usual, the Ministry said that the South African National Defence Force plans and budgets for military exercises with other nations across the globe, both at bilateral and multilateral levels, with Mosi II “no exception”.
“In addition, the biennial maritime Exercise Oxide between South Africa and France took place in November last year at the Simon’s Town Naval Base.”
This will be the second time Mosi will be taking place with the first one held in November 2019 in Cape Town. Exercise Mosi II will see over 350 SANDF personnel from various arms of services and divisions participating alongside their Russian and Chinese counterparts. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
03 Feb 23. RAF Chief of Air Staff convinced UK nearing “paradigm shift” with simulation technology. The final phase of RAF fast-jet pilot training uses a simulated experience of flying an F-35, but how effective is this compared to flying the aircraft? The UK Royal Air Force (Raf) Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston defended the use of simulated environments for training purposes in a Defence Committee inquiry on 1 February, amid concerns that a simulated experience does not engender the pressures of an actual flight.
The discussion of simulated technology arose from the committee’s concern that the RAF’s Military Flying Training System (MFTS) is facing a major backlog. The recruitment of pilots far outpaces the resources and planes available for operational deployment. Simulated training compensates for this imbalance.
The CAS explained that the Covid-19 pandemic caused this backlog. This led to a delay in some recruitment courses in 2019/20 due to lockdown restrictions.
While we use simulation technology to fly an F-35 in the final stage of fast jet training, the CAS is considering expanding its usage. He emphasised the potential of future simulation technology. The CAS left open the possibility that it could totally replace the Hawk T2 training aircraft.
Wigston told the committee that “synthetics [may] reach such a level of development in the next ten years that we will be able to do that level of training in a synthetic environment”.
Steady growth for simulator market
The research and analytics firm GlobalData tells us that the global military simulator systems market is valued at $2.2bn in 2020 and will grow at a CAGR of 4.49% to reach $3.4bn by 2030. The CAS mentioned this was largely thanks to the developments in the gaming industry.
Augmented reality (AR) is the most appealing form of simulation. Compared to other forms like virtual reality (VR) it is cheaper, has fewer limitations, causes less motion sickness, and it can be dual purpose – being used for both training and battlefield applications.
In its report on Augmented Reality in Defence, GlobalData states the use of AR will become inextricably linked with the defence sector.
In terms of end-users, the consumer AR segment accounted for 88% of total AR revenue in 2020. However, by 2030 the enterprise segment will be dominant, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total revenue. Militaries are responsible for a key segment of enterprise AR revenue as they seek out substantial contracts.
Militaries will adopt simulation technology like AR more and more, but what leads the CAS to believe this technology has the capability of totally replacing the real-life experience of flying a Hawk T2 or an F-35?
Wigston accepted that simulation training does not capture the “unique stresses” of flying in reality, but added that “modern technology in a simulator… is of better value in a simulated environment. You can put your aircraft in a position that you wouldn’t want to do in a live environment. You can give the student all sorts of stresses that you wouldn’t be able to replicate”.
While it seems this argument comes from trying to compensate for the RAF’s lack of planes, there is still certainly something to be said for the versatility and replicative powers that AR simulation can provide pilots.
There is no two-seat system of flying in which instructors can help a student fly a fast jet, “they’re on their own, but they get up to [a competent] standard in the simulator”, stated Wigston.
07 Feb 23. USS Shiloh showcases combat capability during SWATT exercises. The exercise allowed Shiloh to test its onboard weapon systems, including Phalanx CIWS, Mark 45 and Mark 38 guns. The US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) has carried out a series of surface warfare exercises to demonstrate its combat capability.
Known as Surface Warfare Advanced Technical Training (SWATT), the exercises were conducted in the Philippine Sea between 14 and 23 January.
The activity allowed the US Navy vessel and its crew to demonstrate their efficiency to undertake joint combat operations with other allied and partner nations.
USS Shiloh is forward deployed to the US Seventh Fleet area of operations Yokosuka, Japan. The deployment contributes to promote and maintain security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
During this ten-day training event, USS Shiloh carried out various live-fire drills to test its onboard weapon systems, including Mark 45 5-inch gun, Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) and Mark 38 25mm machine gun.
The ship also performed other simulated exercises, such as strait transits, navigation missions and small boat counters, to enhance its interoperability with other participating vessels.
Apart from USS Shiloh, the exercise involved participation of the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) and another Ticonderoga-class vessel USS Chancellorsville (CG 62).
A Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Atago-class ship, JS Ashigara (DDG 178), was also a part of this exercise. It was the first time DDG 178 took part in SWATT exercise.
Towards the end of SWATT, CG 67 also conducted test-firing of a standard missile, targeted against a drone, which was controlled from the vessel’s combat information centre.
USS Shiloh combat systems officer lieutenant commander Joshua Szakal said: “This exercise gave the crew an opportunity to utilise its combat power. We want to be able to dominate and bring lethality of the Navy where it is needed.” (Source: naval-technology.com)