17 Aug 23. British Army “comfortable in chaos” after Kenya training exercise. Following the Army’s evacuation of civilians during the violence in Sudan earlier this year, British paratroopers sharpened their high-intensity warfare skills in Kenya.
The British Army’s global response force – comprising the Parachute Regiment, bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticans – evacuated British civilians from the ongoing violence in Sudan, followed by the high-intensity warfare training exercise Haraka Storm in Kenya.
“Sudan and Kenya were completely different situations, requiring different skills and mindsets,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Will Hunt, Commanding Officer of 3 PARA Battlegroup.
British troops trained in high-intensity combat, deploying equipment and vehicles by air as a response force.
Over a challenging six weeks the force deployed all their equipment from the air as a response force. “It has been hard soldiering with some testing problems to overcome, given our approach of not making it easy for ourselves with a limited vehicle fleet meaning lots of long marches.”
The training progressed through company-sized contingents using live ammunition toward a final mission which saw the whole force operating together. The final challenge for paratroopers was a 16-mile (25km) overnight march to assault an enemy position at the top of a rocky outcrop.
Training in the East African environment
As well as fighting an enemy force simulated by 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, troops had to handle the environmental challenges of Kenya.
3 PARA’s Private Ryan Simpson said: “Firstly, it’s hot. Every day is a hot sunny day, which takes some getting used to.
“Secondly, the terrain is really steep and the ground is baked hard, which is tough on your knees, elbows and hands. On top of all that, there’s animals to be aware of – we’ve seen hyenas, lions and elephants.”
Under an agreement with the Kenyan government, up to six British infantry battlegroups per year carry out exercises in Kenya, to provide a stern test for units preparing to deploy on operations or assume high-readiness role.
Problems in the northern Sahel region
Governments in the Sahel region – located between the Saharan desert to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south and stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea – have witnessed major instability, with violence erupting in Sudan throughout April and May this year and a military junta ousting the President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum at the end of July.
Meanwhile, Nato recently described its growing interest in the unstable region in a report published in May, entitled the ‘Strategic Foresight Analysis Regional Perspectives Report on North Africa and the Sahel’.
It argues that the hot and arid landscape, coupled with operating Jihadist insurgent groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State, and the growing threat to democracy indirectly impacts European security.
“Overall, the most significant trends affecting all other trends in North Africa and the Sahel are expected population growth, climate change, and challenges in politics and governance. The confluence of these trends could significantly challenge governments, economies, societies, and food and water resources, contributing to instability and uncertainty in certain countries in the region for at least the next two decades.
“The increasing involvement and associated competition of Russia and China politically, economically, and socially in the region could result in greater potential for conflict, impact freedom of movement/ freedom of navigation, contest Western influence, and potentially challenge Nato security.
Should Nato partners find themselves embroiled in the ongoing conflicts across the Sahel then the British Army leads by example in maintaining a state of readiness for such environs.
Already the US Department of Defense is playing for time in an attempt to retain its intelligence Air Base 201, where it operates MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles. To protect its asset in the country, the department is torn over labelling the conflict in Niger a ‘coup’, when to most it appears to epitomise the definition exactly. (Source: army-technology.com)
16 Aug 23. Ohio’s 178th Wing leads international Vulcan Guard space exercise. Ohio’s 178th Wing hosts a two-day Vulcan Guard event in collaboration with US Space Command, the Brazilian military, and various US states. Incorporating a diverse array of space weapon systems in realistic threat-based scenarios, Ohio Air National Guard’s 178th Wing hosted the fifth Vulcan Guard event, working alongside US Space Command and the Brazilian military in the space-focused exercise on 10-11 August. The 178th Wing is a crucial force in providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as operations support, for both federal and state missions.
To further the National Defense Strategy, which focuses on collaboration with a network of US allies and partners , Vulcan Guard aims to build relationships with United States Space Force units and improves the planning and debrief capabilities of its participants. Ohio hosted Brazilian military personnel and Guardsmen from Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii and New York, in person and remotely.
Intelligence personnel from US military partners integrated with National Guard operations at Springfield-Beckley Air National Guard Base, where the base has hosted four other Vulcan Guard exercises over the last two years.
“We will never go to war alone,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Vaughan, director of space operations for the National Guard Bureau during a visit to the Springfield-Beckley during Vulcan Guard. “We’re going to go to war fully integrated with allies and partners. And so that’s what this exercise allows us to do. When you talk about the space mission, the United States is clearly the leader militarily in some of those capabilities. That’s where we are able to help develop those capabilities on their side appropriately, again, in coordination with Space Force, SPACECOM and others.”
“The Ohio National Guard and other National Guard states have been providing support to space for over 28 years…so that experience is irreplaceable,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general during the Vulcan Guard exercise. “And the transition from the Air National Guard assets to a Space National Guard would be almost seamless. What they’re doing today, they would continue doing tomorrow regardless of the name tag on their uniform. And that’s important.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 Aug 23. Beechcraft T-6C Texan II training system delivered to Tunisian Air Force. Textron Aviation Defense partners with the Tunisian Air Force to enhance training capabilities and strengthen national security.
The arrival of the eighth Beechcraft T-6C Texan II aircraft at No. 13 Squadron, located at Sfax Air Base in Tunisia, marks a turning point in the country’s pilot production program.
Supplied by Textron Aviation Defense, these are the last of eight training aircraft to be delivered to Tunisia, with the first delivered in November 2022.
As part of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract, Textron Aviation Defense was selected to supply eight T-6C Texan II advanced military training aircraft. This contract encompasses a suite of support services, including in-country field service, logistics support representatives, programme management support, and interim contractor assistance during the first year of operation.
In addition to aircraft delivery, the agreement encompasses training for pilots and maintenance professionals, spare engines, spare parts, and aircraft support equipment.
The Beechcraft T-6C Texan II is designed and manufactured by the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Textron Aviation Defense LLC. Textron Aviation Inc. stands as the parent company of Textron Inc.
Brett Pierson, the president and CEO of Textron Aviation Defense, expressed his pride in the induction of the Beechcraft T-6C into Tunisian Air Force pilot production. “It’s an honour to celebrate the induction of the Beechcraft T-6C into Tunisian Air Force pilot production. The world’s most advanced global air forces and pilots trust us to deliver a great aircraft that enables them to make the world a better, more secure place.
Our world-class workforce goes above and beyond to design, manufacture, deliver and support the world’s premier military flight trainer. It is an honour that partner nations continue to put their confidence in the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II as the gold standard in training capabilities.”
This collaboration between Textron Aviation Defense and the Tunisian Air Force highlights the dedication of both partners to advancing training capabilities and strengthening national security across the region.
The popularity of the T-6C Texan IIs is far-reaching worldwide, with various international customers adding training aircraft to their inventory within the last ten years. These include Argentina, Colombia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
15 Aug 23. Adacel joins CAE’s Team AUStringer for future air mission training system. ASX-listed Adacel has joined the CAE-led Team AUStringer as part of the AIR 5428 Phase 3 program for the delivery of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Future Air Mission Training System.
Adacel is a leader in air traffic control training and simulation solutions. Under the agreement, Adacel is expected to help CAE Australia deliver training solutions to support the delivery of Air Traffic Control training within RAAF Base East Sale’s Future Air Mission Training System.
Adacel joins Leidos, Milskil, and Nova Systems in the CAE-lead team.
In delivering the program, the company is expected to leverage their expertise in simulation and air traffic control training to support the delivery of the program, Daniel Verret, chief executive officer of Adacel, explained.
“As an Australian company, Adacel has been at the forefront of developing and deploying the world’s most widely used ATC Tower simulation and training solution,” Verret said.
“With over a decade of experience supporting RAAF’s ATC training programs, we are thrilled to partner with CAE, a renowned global training solutions provider. Together, we aim to create and deliver advanced ATC solutions that offer a highly immersive training environment, to meet and surpass RAAF’s specific training goals.”
Matthew Sibree, managing director, Indo-Pacific at CAE Defense & Security, added that robust training solutions were essential to ensuring mission readiness for Australia’s air traffic controllers – who often have to make split second decisions.
“Air traffic controllers play a vital role in ensuring aviation safety and facilitating efficient operations of aircraft,” Sibree detailed in a company statement.
“Military flight operations and military air traffic controllers make critical decisions, often under immense pressure, whilst operating in complex environments. The foundational skills and post-graduate qualifications developed through the AMTS are essential to ensuring each graduate is mission-ready.”
AUStringer’s solution is designed to protect Australia’s national interests by enabling the Australian Defence Force to achieve their tasks, a CAE spokesperson explained.
CAE has outlined that the company will draw from its global experience in delivering digitally immersive, adaptive, and advanced training solutions. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Aug 23. Russian defence minister oversees Northern fleet Arctic exercise. Despite waging a brutal invasion of Ukraine, Russia has not turned a blind eye to the High North just yet, as the Russian Defence
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is on top of the world – inspecting the country’s Northern Fleet on 12 August, ahead of an exercise that has commenced today, 14 August, in the Arctic Ocean.
Shoigu – who has long been the subject of criticism from the Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin for failures in directing the war in Ukraine – reviewed the activities of special units stationed in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago situated in the Arctic Ocean, formerly a USSR nuclear test site.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Arctic expeditionary detachment of the Northern Fleet comprises the large anti-submarine ship Vice Admiral Kulakov; the large landing ship Alexander Otrakovsky; the Altai rescue boat; and the tanker Sergei Osipov.
Besides this naval force the Northern Fleet also encompasses a MiG-31 Foxhound Interceptor Fighter group. This is a long-range, two-seat supersonic interceptor aircraft manufactured by the Russian Aircraft Corporation.
This aerial group operates from Novaya Zelmya and Franz Josef Land archipelagos. The aircraft perform air defence duties, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and support troops operating in the Arctic zone.
Today, the Northern Fleet has deployed from its “primary base at Severomorsk, via the Kola Bay, to organise into a route order in the Barents Sea” as part of its 12th Arctic Campaign, which will last nearly two months.
How contested is the Arctic region?
Since Finland and Sweden joined the Nato military alliance, Russia has become increasingly isolated in the polar region.
Although countries still maintain the High North theatre on their radar, Russia’s isolation marks a sense of de-escalation in the Arctic. However, the Russian MoD now appears determined to demonstrate a show of relative strength, as if to say, ‘we’re still here’.
Notably, this show of force come just after the US prime Northrop Grumman announced it has delivered two major components of the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM) and has started the next phase of pre-launch preparations for the US and its allies to operate in the High North.
ASBM is a two-satellite constellation that the defence contractor has designed to protect satellite communications to the northern polar region – one of the most difficult locations on Earth to deliver communications to.
With this communications capability, the US and its allies and partners – which dominate in the Arctic Council – will also dominate the Arctic as its forces can respond to real-time information regarding movements in the region. (Source: naval-technology.com)
11 Aug 23. US Special Operations Command acquires Havik VR training system. Under the new small business innovation requirements, the DoD has procured Havik’s virtual reality simulation platform for immersive and mobile training.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has acquired the Havik virtual reality (VR) simulation training platform for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in a contract valued at $19.9m.
Military training and education will be one of the largest use cases of the metaverse in the defence industry, according to GlobalData intelligence.
For decades, armed forces have used simulators to train their personnel. The metaverse will provide the same benefits at a much lower price point thanks to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products such as Meta Quest VR headsets, HoloLens 2 headsets, and gaming PCs and peripherals.
Havik has designed its VR training system to complement the DoD’s legacy simulators. The startup provides a hardware and software system that is modular and customised to the requirement of individual units and operators.
The company’s flagship product, the ‘Havik Joint Fires Trainer’, is a self-contained VR training system. Alongside the integration of the ‘Havik Core’, the instructor station can separate from the location of its student end users, or ‘scouts’.
Havik’s immersive yet mobile training system meets the requirements of USSOCOM. As a joint force that oversees clandestine operations across the armed forces USSOCOM requires remote, immersive and interoperable capabilities. Havik delivers these three criteria – including Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to operate with military aircraft.
Small businesses such as Havik are driving innovation
As part of the DoD’s focus on integrating small businesses into the US defence industrial base; Havik won the contract under a Small Business Innovation Research Phase III award.
At the cost of maintaining considerable benefit to larger prime defence companies, smaller businesses supplying resources and subcontracting work hardly benefit in comparison.
In April 2023, the department issued its Defence Contract Finance Study findings; the first defence industry review in 35 years. The report found that “Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to having cash on hand to cover operating expenses. In general, they do not have the same opportunities to obtain working capital as their larger counterparts”.
European agencies are also contracting startups for innovative tech solutions. Discussing the rise of small business startups in the wider tech industry, Laurynas Mačiulis, the CEO and co-founder of an optical space-to-ground communications company based in Lithuania called Astrolight, emphasised that “we see that military warfare technology is really changing with what we witnessed in the war in Ukraine.
“With more and more commercial infrastructure and technology that is being used for war, all these social networks and so on… It’s important to have support from venture capital [and] from business angels to support these initiatives.”
Metaverse tech supply chain issues
GlobalData’s report on the Metaverse in Defence (2023) tells us that rising geopolitical tensions are requiring military forces and the companies that supply them to modernise all aspects of equipment and operations. “As such, no major player within the defence supply chain can ignore any metaverse value chain layer; however, specific value chain layers should be prioritised.”
Original equipment manufacturers and prime contractors must invest in the foundation and experience layers and explore the tools and user interface layers.
“Investment in the foundation layer is crucial as this layer encompasses both semiconductors and components required to manufacture advanced electronics.”
Just like in other industries, semiconductors play a crucial role in aerospace and defence, especially when armed forces worldwide are gradually gearing towards network-centric warfare. Manufacturers are fitting almost all types of modern military platforms with components and sub-systems that use semiconductor chips – none more so than interoperable agencies such as USSOCOM.
The report adds that “COTS companies can invest in all layers of the metaverse value chain. [They] have become the major suppliers to defence manufacturers and militaries alike.”
While metaverse tech companies such as Havik are driving innovation with a balance of mobility and immersive tech, we can still expect startups to be wary of the financial support needed to enter the US defence industrial base as foundational layer components remain costly and in high demand. (Source: army-technology.com)