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04 Jul 19. ManTech wins US Army Persistent Cyber Training Environment contract. Cyber solutions firm ManTech International has been selected to advance the US Army’s Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE).
The US Department of Defense has awarded a three-year $21m other transaction agreement (OTA) to ManTech to further enhance and integrate prototype capabilities of PCTE.
ManTech International will manage DevOps for software architecture and control development.
The company will also handle the installation of compute and storage capabilities, and TechOps for planning and execution of training.
ManTech president and CEO Kevin Phillips said: “Selection of ManTech for this latest stage of the prototype process demonstrates army’s confidence in our bringing digital the mission across the full spectrum of PCTE requirements.
“ManTech is the only government services contractor chosen to handle DevOps, installation, and Tech Ops for simultaneously training American cyberwarriors worldwide.”
In April, the firm announced that it was chosen to continue to develop a prototype for the PCTE platform.
The company is partnering with cyber companies APTIMA, SCYTHE and Ultimate Knowledge Institute.
While APTIMA will offer its training assessment expertise, ManTech will leverage SCYTHE’s cyberattack ingenuity and Ultimate Knowledge Institute’s dashboard creativity.
The DoD also selected two other companies for prototype development. The three companies will work collaboratively to support the definition, development, testing and integration of advanced capabilities into the prototype PCTE platform.
Prototype work involves ‘Cyber Innovation Challenges’, to be conducted at the army’s PCTE DevOps Center in Orlando, Florida, US.
The army’s PCTE is a virtual training platform that will enable full-spectrum training for cyber mission forces.
It uses automated tools to simulate realistic threats and offers an opportunity for personnel to improve performance.
03 Jul 19. The results are in for Red Flag-Alaska. Nearly 3,000 airmen from the U.S., Britain, Japan, South Korea and Thailand participated in Red Flag-Alaska 19-2, which wrapped June 21. The two-week multinational training exercise is meant to provide realistic combat experience to pilots in a controlled environment, which increases their survivability on actual combat missions, Senior Airman Eric Fisher said in an email.
The exercise is also an opportunity for airmen from partner nations to improve interoperability and exchange tactics, techniques and procedures, Fisher continued. Red Flag-Alaska takes place at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, which includes a 67,000 square mile range.
When asked about previous equipment issues at the complex and other Air Force facilities, Capt. Kay Nissen, spokesperson for the 354th Fighter Wing, said the training range and exercise scenarios “sufficiently challenged” participating aircraft and units.
“There continues to be opportunities to improve the capabilities of the training range to ensure participants receive the most realistic combat-like experience to prepare for future operations,” she continued. “This is why the 354th Fighter Wing has prioritized investing in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, to include standing up a new detachment specifically designated to find those opportunities for improvement so warfighters are ready for the high-end fight.”
Aircraft used in the exercise included KC-135 Stratotankers, F-16 Fighting Falcons, Mitsubishii F-2s, C-130 Hercules, UH-60 Black Hawks, HH-60 Pave Hawks, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and the MQ-9 Reaper, Fisher said. Airmen were able to use live ordinance and dropped 681,505 pounds of munitions, said Senior Airman Isaac Johnson. (Source: Defense News)
03 Jul 19. Three nations stage F-35 drills over southern Italy. F-35s flew training flights with American and British F-35s over southern Italy on Tuesday, ending a busy few days for joint training by nations flying the stealth fighter. The day kicked off with two Italian aircraft taking off from Amendola Air Base in the heel of Italy alongside two RAF F-35Bs, marking the first joint exercise between the nations.
Despite recent revelations about a series of teething problems experienced by the jet, pilots said they were happy with its performance.
“I met the British wing commander yesterday, we talked for ten minutes about a tactical mission that would have been impossible to fly that easily and that quickly with an older jet,” said Maj. Maurizio De Guida, commander of the 13th squadron of Italy’s 32nd Wing.
“We took off and within a few minutes we all knew what we were going to target because of the internal data links. The information sharing is so much easier with the F-35,” said RAF 617 Squadron Wing Commander John Butcher.
Both air forces were using the F-35’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), which Italian pilots have previously used to share data with U.S. Air Force F-35s during an exercise in the Mediterranean last month.
Col. Davide Marzinotto, commander of the 32nd Wing, said he hoped the British arrival at Amendola foreshadowed greater base hopping by F-35 users.
“The global logistics support for the aircraft means countries using each others’ bases is a natural consequence, and we hope to send our aircraft to other countries,” he said.
The two RAF aircraft were among the six British F-35s which last month took part in a training deployment to the RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus before then racking up 14 surveillance sorties over Iraq and Syria.
Butcher said that all six aircraft flew in the anti-ISIS missions. “We did armed overwatch of forces on the ground and it went very well. We were able to fully exploit the capabilities of the aircraft,” he said.
Flying in pairs and not accompanied by the Typhoons based at Akrotiri, the British F-35Bs carried their standard AMRAAM and Paveway 4 internal armaments payload and used all their sensor suite, from radar and infrared to electro-optics, during the missions, Butcher said.
Between that deployment and their arrival in Italy, RAF jets stopped off to train with U.S. and Israeli F-35s, and Butcher said he had had no concerns about the UK’s F-35Bs training with A-versions of the aircraft.
“Once the wheels are up you are the same air system,” he said.
Butcher said he was not aware of pilots experiencing pain induced by cockpit pressure, or reduced night vision — two problems facing the jet according to a recent Defense News report.
Another bone of contention over the aircraft is the amount of sovereign data F-35 users are forced to share with Lockheed Martin through the ALIS software system, which manages logistics supplies to the aircraft.
Marzinotto acknowledged it was an issue, but said the Italian Air Force had no complaints.
“Every time you use new logistics systems there is a need to learn about it. ALIS is maturing. Sharing information is essential if you want a system that supports your fleet in any part of the world,” he said.
“What is evolving is a system of control over what is essential information to make the global fleet work and what is of national interest and does not need to be shared. That is being done,” he added.
The Italian Air Force now has eight F-35As based at Amendola, with another two training in the United States and one being overhauled at Italy’s final assembly line in Cameri in northern Italy.
“It has effectively opened the maintenance work Cameri is due to offer,” said Marzinotto.
The Italian Navy has meanwhile taken delivery of two F-35Bs, which are training in the United States, part of Italy’s planned total buy of 90 aircraft.
On Tuesday afternoon, four Italian F-35s took off from Amendola to train with four American F-35s arriving from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where they are temporarily based.
The U.S. Air Force jets are part of a 12-strong group of F-35s from the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already teamed with Italian F-35s for a training exercise June.
On Tuesday they flew in for the day, refueling from an Italian Air Force 767 tanker en route. The Italian and U.S. jets used MADL to share data with each other, while relying on Link 16 to talk to two Italian Eurofighters which also participated in the exercise.
“This exercise focused on interoperability,” said one U.S. pilot, who identified himself only by his callsign “Ali.” (Source: Defense News)
02 Jul 19. Boeing begins EMD flight trials for T-X trainer. Boeing has begun engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) flight trials of the T-X trainer aircraft it has developed with partner Saab for the US Air Force (USAF). The first EMD sortie, which was announced by the company on 1 July, involved Boeing T-X (BTX) aircraft N381TX flying out of the company’s St Louis facility in Missouri. No details were disclosed as to the nature or duration of the flight test, although Boeing’s Chief T-X Test Pilot, Steve ‘Bull’ Schmidt, noted, “[It] went extremely well. She flew just superb [during the] first flight [of the] EMD test programme. [The] first test points went off without a hitch.”
With two EMD aircraft so far built (Boeing has been keen to stress that these are not prototypes, in the traditional sense of the word, but fully configured platforms), 71 test flights were flown between December 2016 and December 2018. Since then, Boeing and Saab have been analysing the data ahead of the commencement of EMD flight trials.
The BTX features a single General Electric Aviation GE 404 engine, a large-area display (LAD) cockpit, and open-architecture system. The USAF is due to receive 350 aircraft to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon that has been in service since the 1960s.
With the first aircraft set to be delivered to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 2023, initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2024. Production at the newly established facility in Indiana will be set at approximately 60 aircraft per year.
Speaking to Jane’s and other defence media in June, Boeing explained that the BTX has been built specifically for the USAF requirement, with Ted Torgerson, programme head for the T-X Advanced Pilot Training Program (ATP), noting; “It is a flexible open-architecture system that will do the things it needs to do as the air force determines its future pilot training requirements. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Jul 19. Canada extends command of Nato training mission in Iraq. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will command a Nato training mission in Iraq until November 2020 to help build sustainable defence and security institutions. Canada was originally intended to end its leadership role this autumn. First announced at the Brussels Summit in July last year, Nato Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat, advisory and training mission designed to assist Iraq in strengthening its military schools and institutions. NMI seeks to improve the capabilities and effectiveness of Iraqi security institutions.
Canada’s Department of National Defence noted that the country’s leadership of the mission complements its existing efforts in the international fight against the Islamic State (IS).
The CAF is also extending support under Operation IMPACT to provide training and assistance to Iraqi security forces.
Canada National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said: “Our message is clear, Canada is ready to lead and stand with our Allies.
“We know that combating threats to global stability reinforces security and prosperity at home and this is why we are happy to work with Nato and continue our command role of Nato Mission Iraq.”
The 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East commander brigadier-general Jennie Carignan will take command of the mission from major general Dany Fortin this autumn.
Carignan will lead trainers, advisers and support staff from allied countries and non-Nato partners, including Australia, Sweden and Finland, as well as up to 250 CAF personnel.
Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said: “Together with its Nato allies and the Government of Iraq, Canada is committed to work towards lasting peace and security for the people of Iraq and the surrounding region.
“We are proud to assume command of Nato Mission Iraq for a second year and support the people of Iraq and new initiatives that will enhance security and regional stability.”
Under the NMI, Nato personnel provide training at Iraqi military schools and academies. The training covers countering improvised explosive devices, civil-military planning, armoured vehicle maintenance and medical care. (Source: army-technology.com)
29 Jun 19. EU to stage war games to prepare for hybrid threats. European Union ministers will take part in joint war games over coming months to better prepare the bloc for a range of attacks, from cyberattacks to disinformation campaigns.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Thursday that interior and finance ministers from the 28-country bloc will be tasked to respond to fictional scenarios during meetings in Helsinki in July and September. By being able to respond, they will be able to help out authorities on the ground
“Military and civilian authorities can usually, in crisis time, do only what they have been trained for,” said Haavisto.
Finland has specialized in dealing with the issue and has set up a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which since its inception two years ago now has 22 EU and NATO members.
Haavisto said under-the-radar actions to seek out vulnerabilities have become more prevalent, hence the need to war game potential threats. He pointed to Russia’s alleged jamming of GPS signals during military exercises in the Nordics last year as one such example.
“We want the union and member states to strengthen capacities to prevent and respond to hybrid threats,” he said.
Hybrid threats can be based on a wide variety of strategies, ranging from the spread of fake news to undermining trust and cyberattacks on energy or communication systems. Russia has often been blamed for using such tactics. (Source: Defense News)
29 Jun 19. US Army awards key contracts to build virtual trainers. The Army has awarded several key contracts to build virtual trainers, which make up a critical part of the service’s developing Synthetic Training Environment (STE). Cole Engineering Services, Inc. (CESI) was selected from a pool of vendors with solutions for ground and air virtual trainers on June 28 to build a prototype of the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment’s Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer (RVCT).
The Army sifted through a total of 11 responses to a request for solutions issued in April — eight RVCT solutions that address aircraft, two that address ground platforms and one that covered both air and ground capability in a comprehensive solution.
“As a result of a multi-stage competition, the comprehensive solution, provided by Cole Engineering Services Inc., was selected as the winning vendor providing best value to the government,” a June 28 statement sent to Defense News from Army Contracting Command- Orlando said.
The total value of the prototype project, if all phases and options are exercised, is $81.4m.
The Army also awarded a $95m contract June 19 to VT MAK, a subsidiary of Singapore company ST Engineering in the United States, to deliver both Training Simulation Software (TSS) and a Training Management Tool (TMT) — two essential elements that, when combined with One World Terrain, form the STE’s Common Synthetic Environment (CSE).
The CSE enables the RVCT, the Soldier Squad Virtual Trainer and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).
The awards mark big progress in developing the STE — essentially a virtual world in which to train soldiers for war and aims to move the service away from its stove-piped training systems from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The new system will allow soldiers to train collectively — which is critical to preparing for multidomain operations across air, ground, sea, cyber and space — with greater fidelity. The STE will ultimately also be used as a mission planning tool.
The idea is to be able to click on any place on a virtual globe and go there. Soldiers can then train virtually in an exact environment in which they can expect to operate in reality.
The STE was prioritized through the establishment of Army Futures Command and has its own cross-functional team led by Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais to push efforts forward quickly.
Prior to the standing up of the new four-star command aimed at rapidly building and procuring more modern equipment, the STE wasn’t going to be ready until 2030.
Now that timeline has been shrunk through new approaches in development and acquisition. The contracts awarded this month, for example, are Prototype Other Transaction Agreements under the Training and Readiness Accelerator (TReX), which allowed the service to move more quickly through a competitive process.
The plan moving forward for the RVCT is “upon successful completion of this prototype effort,” the Army would award a follow-on production contract “without the use of competitive procedures,” according to the ACC-Orlando-issued statement.
But if the vendor fails to “demonstrate progress” or “be unsuccessful in the accomplishment of the goals of this prototyping effort,” the Army “reserves the right to return to the results of this competition and award additional Other Transaction Agreements to one or more of the vendors that responded to the initial Request for Solutions, as appropriate within the scope and evaluated results of the competition,” the statement notes.
Should the vendor move forward, a follow-on effort could include continued development, further scaling of the solution and integration of future capabilities.
The Army estimates the fielding quantity for the prototype would be 210 (or greater) RVCT-Air trainers and 656 ground versions “at various locations for Full Operational Capability,” according to the statement. (Source: Defense News)
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