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04 June 19. Weakest link eliminated in international exercise. The wide availability of Link 16 is now removing interoperability issues between air power platforms during challenging international training exercises.

At an Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE) press briefing in May, a Swedish Air Force official commented that when multiple players are working together in combat training scenarios, such as ACE, collectively, nations need to adapt to less advanced platforms.

‘Every time you bring a lot of countries together you always have to adapt to the weakest link. The weakest link might be that one aircraft type might not have Link 16, one aircraft might only be air to air or air to ground.

‘Throughout this journey we have found ourselves being less limited for every update on the aircraft so nowadays we don’t have to raise our hands and say sorry we cannot do that,’ the official said.

ACE comprises of different set scenarios and will cover areas such as high density and high threat, crisis management operations under a NATO mandate to a realistic training environment – all under air power.

With something this large, naturally challenges would be the complex scale it works on but the results are shown through ally interoperability.

Platforms participating includes Sweden’s Gripen which has its Gripen data link system along with a Link 16 or National Data Link which can enable a battlefield network.

Other aircraft participating in the exercise include the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. (Source: Shephard)

04 June 19. US and allied naval forces conclude Exercise Pacific Vanguard. The first Exercise Pacific Vanguard has concluded off the coast of Guam in the Western Pacific, involving the naval forces of the US, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. The exercise began on 22 May and was designed to increase interoperability. During the week-long exercise, around 3,000 personnel took part in combined manoeuvres, and live-firing, as well as defensive counter-air and anti-submarine warfare serials.

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) fleet commander rear admiral Jonathan Mead stated that the exercise presented an opportunity for Australia to enhance its ability to contribute to the peace and stability of the region.

Mead said: “Exercise Pacific Vanguard involved four likeminded regional partners working together to support our shared views of a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

“The exercise not only future-proofs Australia’s engagement with partner navies by increasing understanding and experience in coordination and communication, it has also helped foster an already strong community built on shared interests.”

Pacific Vanguard saw the participation of several naval vessels and aircraft, including the US Navy’s USS Blue Ridge, guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur, fighter jets and maritime patrol aircraft.

The RAN was represented by submarine HMAS Farncomb and two frigates, HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Parramatta.

Japanese assets in the exercise include destroyers JS Ariake and JS Asah, while South Korea was represented by destroyer ROKS Wang Geon.

US 7th Fleet commander vice-admiral Phil Sawyer stated that the exercise helped advance the integration of the forces, preparing them to respond as a group to events that could occur in the region.

Sawyer said: “Our shared values and common interests helped ensure a successful exercise, and our collaboration will help provide security throughout the Indo-Pacific.”  (Source: naval-technology.com)

02 June 19. Royal Lancers Take Scimitar to Finland for Military Exercise. Soldiers from D-Squadron, the Royal Lancers, have spent May deployed alongside the Finnish Army on Exercise Arrow 19, where they have provided reconnaissance for a Finnish Armoured Infantry Brigade, according to the British Army. This is the first ever deployment of both the CVR(T) Scimitar vehicle and the Royal Lancers to Finland and has provided an opportunity to practice crucial interoperability with partners in Europe. With this deployment the Royal Lancers have demonstrated the British Army’s global reach and presence throughout the world. “It’s been a fantastic deployment – in a training environment that we are the first British soldiers to ever use” said Lt Charlie Mackaness, a Troop Leader with D Sqn, Royal Lancers. “The Fins have been fiercely professional and brilliant hosts. Training with them has allowed us to adjust our own tactics, gain an understanding of their way of warfighting and bond with fellow soldiers from across the world.”

The FV107 Scimitar is an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (sometimes classed as a light tank) used by the British Army, classed as a combat vehicle reconnaissance (tracked) or CVR(T). It was manufactured by Alvis in Coventry and mounts a high velocity 30 mm L21 RARDEN cannon.

Based in Catterick, The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeth’s Own) was formed by an amalgamation of The Queen’s Royal Lancers and 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) on 2 May 2015. It serves as the Formation Reconnaissance Regiment of the 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 3rd (UK) Division, and is the last regiment in the British Army to retain the name of lancers.

Exercise Arrow 19, which included participants from the US Marine Corps, US Army and Estonia, has also allowed the Royal Lancers to prove and demonstrate the expeditionary capability of their platform. At home in the narrow forest tracks of Finland, the reconnaissance soldiers have constantly been able to out-manoeuvre the simulated enemy, calling the allied infantry onto targets and then vanishing back in the pine forests.

This has been a second overseas deployment for the Royal Lancers in less than 12 months, with many members having returned from Cyprus on Op Tosca in October 2019 and coincides with two other Lancer squadrons exercising in Germany and a fourth in Scotland concurrently. (Source: Warfare.Today/U.K. MoD)

04 June 19. DST augmented reality to support soldiers during training operations. Defence Science and Technology is working with Australian soldiers to better understand the training applications of augmented reality, with a focus on challenging environments – particularly night operations. When it comes to augmented reality (AR), more is not necessarily better. Especially if you’re a soldier using night-vision goggles while lugging heavy equipment through challenging environments.

Defence scientists Larissa Cahill and Dr Shahd Al-Janabi are helping Defence, and particularly Army, explore operational concepts and understand the impact of augmented reality on dismounted soldiers.

Cahill is approaching the topic from a research background in night vision and sensor-based systems over which augmented information is being placed. Dr Al-Janabi is broadening that scope to include information from autonomous systems, and is generally more tech-agnostic.

“I’m looking at the general interface display and control aspects. There’s an image out there of the soldier of the future – receiving information from many different sources – that’s been created by console game developers and Marvel characters like Tony Stark in his Iron Man suit,” Dr Al-Janabi explained.

Dr Al-Janabi presented this research program at the 2018 Defence Human Sciences Symposium, generating interest and discussion around their paradigm of applying and testing existing visual processing knowledge in this new space.

“But the reality is that there’s a limit to how much information people can process at any one point in time. Our job is to use cognitive science to inform how AR displays are designed, and to test and evaluate different designs,” Dr Al-Janabi added.

Cahill expanded on this, saying, “Well before AR we knew that people don’t process all the visual information they receive; we pick and choose and that leads to all sorts of design considerations. We are drawing on the significant research already out there in relation to land vehicle and aeronautical displays in particular, and understanding to what extent it is applicable to the dismounted soldier.”

According to Dr Al-Janabi, augmented reality is a double-edged sword.

“It has its formation in the gaming industry, when developers began to help players process information by presenting it in their line of sight. The design industry took this concept and decided it might be a good idea to present the users with all of the information, without a lot of consideration as to what information was needed, how it should be presented. Some designs may be far less advantageous than is assumed,” Dr Al-Janabi added.

While augmented reality design for seated gamers, pilots and vehicle operators seems to work well, soldiers face a whole different ballgame including movement after dark with night vision systems that are already visually exhausting. That’s where this duo bring their cognitive science skills into play. What advantage does a design provide and how can it be improved?

This research is heavily influenced by technology availability, with augmented reality capability often oversold.

“We use prototype systems on soldiers out in the field to explore information needs, while also undertaking fundamental technology agnostic work,” said Cahill.

Design is a two-step process at the moment. The duo use virtual reality simulations in combination with Oculus Rift glasses, for example, as a representative head-mounted system. Results from the simulation inform physical prototype designs, which are then manufactured and tested by soldiers in real environments. And then it’s back to the lab for another iteration.

So, what does the future hold for augmented reality systems? According to Cahill and Dr Al-Janabi, it comes down to what our appetite is for humans losing control. Everyone wants to make their lives easier by handing off the hard work and decisions to autonomous systems, but is that really the right thing to do? Do we want artificial intelligence algorithms filtering what soldiers see on their displays and guiding their decisions? Or making their decisions for them? (Source: Defence Connect)

 

31 May 19. Embraer eyes electric propulsion trainer aircraft through co-operation with WEG. Key Points:

  • Embraer and WEG are teaming to develop a technology demonstrator aircraft propelled with an electric motor
  • The company sees applications for defence in trainer aircraft, among other types

Embraer is eying a possible electric propulsion trainer aircraft through a technology demonstrator it is developing with Brazilian electrical machine manufacturer WEG.

Embraer announced to reporters on 29 May that the two companies signed a scientific and technological co-operation agreement to jointly develop new products and solutions to enable electric propulsion in aircraft. The partnership, in the context of pre-competitive research and development (R&D), seeks to accelerate the knowledge of the technologies necessary to increase the energy efficiency of aircraft from the use and integration of electric motors in innovative propulsion systems, according to an Embraer statement. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

29 May 19. QinetiQ Brings to Market the Air-Launched “Rattler” UAV Supersonic Target. QinetiQ has unveiled the world’s first in-its-class Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) supersonic target that can be attached to its jet Banshee aerial target and launched during flight.

Rattler was built to enable ships and aircraft to practice tracking missiles. The ground-launch capability of Rattler was launched at CANSEC in 2018. This new air-launch capability from the jet Banshee, has been successfully trialled in Canada over the past twelve months. This evolution in threat representation technology is a key part of QinetiQ’s strategy to lead and deliver world-class test and evaluation, training and mission rehearsal capabilities for governments around the world.

Peter Longstaff, Managing Director of QinetiQ Target Systems says, “Rattler is a low-cost manoeuvrable supersonic target and something brand new for the live fire, test and evaluation community. Rattler costs substantially less than any high-speed threat representative target currently on the market and being air-launched means that we can now conduct a full end-to-end threat representation profile. We are delighted to add the air-launched Rattler to our portfolio of affordable next-generation targets which we can either provide as a product sale or deploy to a customer’s site as part of a managed service for test or training purposes.”

When being air-launched, the jet Banshee aerial target with Rattler attached is set off from a ground launcher, directed into the operational area and can be recovered using a parachute. The Banshee and Rattler combination can be launched in three different modes that replicate various threat profiles.

Once launched, Rattler is operated with a proprietary QinetiQ guidance system and flight termination system (FTS) that enables full control at all times. Rattler can be equipped with customer requested payloads such as radar augmentation and miss distance indication. (Source: ASD Network)

31 May 19. US and Thailand forces begin CARAT 2019 exercise. The US and Thai maritime forces have commenced the annual regional Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise at Sattahip Naval Base. This marks the 25th edition of the CARAT exercise, which is designed to bolster partnerships between regional navies and enhance maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The exercise involved US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, alongside the Royal Thai Navy and Marine Corps. CARAT started in 1995. It is the US Navy’s oldest and longest continually-running regional exercise in South and South East Asia.

The Royal Thai Navy has been participating in the annual exercise since CARAT’s inception.

Task Force 73 commander rear admiral Joey Tynch said: “Thailand is a key partner and an enduring ally. Every opportunity we have to train with our Thai partners is an investment in our relationship, as well as our capabilities.

“Over 25 years, CARAT continues to evolve and remains the premier venue for the US and partner navies to work together and address shared maritime security concerns.”

The 11-day exercise will involve onshore and at-sea training.

The sea phase of the exercise will involve surface warfare manoeuvring tactics, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills, mobile dive and salvage training, gunnery exercises.

In addition, forces will indulge in submarine tactics, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and minesweeping and maritime patrol operations.

During the shore phase, personnel will take part in combat marksmanship, riverine tactics, medical training, jungle warfare.

Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard will lead a practical training exercise in visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS).

The US will be represented by staff from Commander, Task Force 73 and Commander, Destroyer Squadron 7, USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52), and other units.

CARAT allows partner navies to improve operations and tactics in response to maritime security challenges. (Source: naval-technology.com)

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