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05 Nov 19. UK extends Operation Orbital training mission to Ukraine. The UK Ministry of Defence has announced that the UK will continue its military training mission in Ukraine for an additional three years.

The latest extension will see the UK continue the training mission Operation Orbital, until March 2023. Beginning in 2015, Operation Orbital involves training the Ukrainian armed forces in the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), medical care, infantry skills, and logistics. Training was expanded last year to include anti-armour, counter-sniping and mortar planning. Under the programme, more than 17,500 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been trained so far. In September last year, the training mission was extended by two years to 2020.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “My recent visit to the Donbas region made clear not only the costs inflicted by Russian-backed separatists, but also the resolve the Ukrainian Armed Forces have demonstrated in defending their territorial integrity.

“That is why we are extending our training mission to Ukraine for another three years, so we may train thousands more Ukrainian personnel and continue to make a difference.”

In the recent meeting with his counterpart Andriy Zagorodniuk, Wallace also reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Joint Force Operation Commander lieutenant general Volodymyr Kravchenko briefed the Defence Secretary on the situation in the Donbas region.

The UK deployed training teams from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines last year to deliver training to the Ukrainian Navy. The training covered areas such as ship navigation, firefighting and damage repair. (Source: army-technology.com)

06 Nov 19. Royal Navy squadron trains on Puma and Wasp UAS systems. A team from 700X NAS received specialist training in the US on the Puma and Wasp air systems. A team from the British Royal Navy’s 700X Naval Air Squadron (NAS) has received training on the Puma and Wasp unmanned aircraft system in the US. The 700X NAS, based at RNAS Culdrose, Helston, was the first squadron of unmanned aircraft established in 2014 to oversee the development of remote-piloted flight systems. The training in Huntsville, Alabama, involved both classroom and practical sessions and helped the aviators hone their skills in remotely piloted aviation.

Participants learnt how to operate the unmanned aircraft in a range of scenarios and will put their training into practice at the navy’s Predannack training airfield.

700X NAS commanding officer lieutenant commander Justin Matthews said: “Whilst learning the fundamentals of the Puma and Wasp air systems, we have developed an understanding of the tactical applications for both the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, which we will progress now that we have returned to the UK.”

The aviators were taught how to launch and recover the systems in both manual and autonomous modes.

The personnel then moved on to mission planning, where they learnt how to programme a mission set and control the aircraft using a laptop.

Justin Matthews added: “We hope to start flying out of Predannack airfield very soon. Once we gain more experience, then 700X NAS will progress to taking part in exercises in the UK for both maritime and land.”

The squadron received the first commercial-off-the-shelf mini UAS in July 2016. (Source: naval-technology.com)

06 Nov 19. US Navy and JMSDF conduct exercise to boost interoperability. The US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) have completed a bilateral maritime exercise to bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The exercise was held between 24 October and 2 November and involved the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and JMSDF’s Escort Division 12. During the exercise, the navies engaged in a series of drills that helped to increase interoperability.

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 commander captain Steve DeMoss said: “Conducting bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force enables both navies to continue to strengthen the unique and seamless integration of our forces.

“Bonded by our shared interests, shared values and a commitment to freedom of the seas, the JMSDF and forward-deployed US naval forces work together regularly to promote security and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”

The US Navy stated that the two maritime forces focused their naval officer exchanges on sea combat watch standing integration.

Watchstanders from the US Navy and JMSDF coordinated with each other in manoeuvring operations and tactical battle exercises.

DeMoss, Task Force 70 commander rear admiral George Wikoff, and JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118) commanding officer Shusuke Kitaguchi discussed the continued integration of their units.

JMSDF Escort Division 12 commander captain Kimihiro Ichiyanagi said: “Continual, regularly-based, bilateral exercises between the US Navy and the JMSDF contribute to enhanced tactical skills and interoperability with each other.

“In addition to the force and staff level accomplishments, I believe our synchronised bilateral activities at sea also help us to promote and maintain an open and stable Indo-Pacific region.”

Assets that took part in the exercise included the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Fuyuzuki, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). (Source: naval-technology.com)

05 Nov 19. Hollywood gives Army faux Russian T-72 tanks to train against. The U.S. Army has long used visual modifications to fashion make-shift enemies that look like real world foes, but Army Guardsmen are taking that a bit further. To develop new visual modification kits, the National Guard Bureau contracted a Hollywood special effects company called Westefx that has worked on movie sets such as “Taken” and “James Bond,” according to an Idaho Army National Guard release.

The new kits provided by Westefx take Humvees and make them look like Russian T-72 main battle tanks and BTR-90 personnel carriers.

A total of 60 kits will ultimately be installed over Humvees at the Orchard Combat Training Center, a 143,000-acre set of ranges located 18 miles south of Boise, Idaho.

T-72s are exported around the world and have seen action everywhere from the Syrian civil war to Ukraine’s war in the Donbass.

Training ranges at the Orchard CTC regularly host Army tankers, Air Force JTACs and A-10 Warthog pilots — all of whom are examples of troops who need to be able to identify enemy equipment quickly and accurately.

“Taking a look at how VisMods [visual modification] are done across the Army, I think these are the best I’ve ever seen,” Maj. Aaron Ammerman, program manager for the Guard’s Exportable Combat Training Capability, said in the release. “They will provide an exponentially more realistic threat signature for troops to train against as they do force-on-force exercises.”

The contract aims to make training more realistic for brigade combat teams participating in the National Guard’s XCTC — a series of training exercises between active-duty and Guard brigades.

The Guard contracted Westefx in 2018 to improve XCTC exercises and its 21-day combat training exercises that ready units for mobilization, according to the release.

Westefx owner and lead designer Erick Brennan said in the release that the new kits will help soldiers learn to identify enemy vehicles through both auditory and visual cues.

The kits, which weigh roughly 1,700 pounds, also offer gas-operated systems that mimic the firing of the T-72′s huge 125 mm gun, as well as the sound of .50 caliber machine guns. Laser sensors and a smoke generator on the kits will also allow soldiers to practice acquiring targets.

Those additions help soldiers train in a more realistic environment, according to Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Doramus, Idaho Army National Guard VisMod fleet manager.

“These kits aren’t going to look and act like a Humvee. They are going to look and act like T-72s and BTR-90s,” Doramus said in the release.

It’s obviously more cost-effective for the Army to buy modification kits than to buy entire tanks from a foreign manufacturer that would also have to come with replacement parts and maintainer training.

It’s also more cost effective to put the kits on Humvees than on Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles. (Source: Defense News)

05 Nov 19. Raytheon to provide Qatari air force with JSOW training. Raytheon Missile Systems will be awarded a contract to provide the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) with initial integrated logistics support and training for the AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), according to a notice released on the US Federal Business Opportunities website on 1 November. The contract is expected to be awarded in the second quarter of 2020 and will be performed over a four-year period.

The US Department of Defense announced in October 2017 that it had awarded a USD173m contract to Raytheon to produce 200 AGM-154C Block III JSOWs for Qatar by June 2020. The JSOW is a precision glide bomb with a range of up to 130 km when launched from high altitude. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Nov 19. US Army to trial TITAN in 2020 to counter A2/AD. The US Army is to trial elements of its Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) during the ‘Defender-Europe 20’ exercise in April-May 2020 to provide actionable intelligence for its long-range fires in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environments, according to a news story published on its website on 23 October.

The report cites officials saying that TITAN will combine deep sensing with long-range precision strike options to defeat enemy A2/AD, a doctrinal concept that the United States sees as a growing concern in Europe and Asia. TITAN is to be deployed by the US Army’s Multi Domain Task Force that is being established in Europe and the Pacific. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Nov 19. Australia to cut Task Group Taji deployment to Iraq by half. The Australian Government is planning to cut the number of forces deployed in Iraq for the Task Group Taji training mission by half. More than 100 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have departed for the 10th rotation of Task Group Taji in Iraq.

Task Group Taji, which became fully operational in May 2015, is a joint military training force involving personnel from Australia and New Zealand. Located at the Taji Military Complex north-west of Baghdad, the task group supports an international effort to strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). During the latest rotation, the Iraqi School of Infantry will lead the majority of training. The Australian and New Zealand combined force will perform mentoring duties for the Iraqi school.

Australia Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said: “The ADF has made significant progress in enhancing the capabilities of the ISF to defeat Daesh.

“The ADF’s local partner, the Iraqi School of Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer II, is ready to deliver most of its training without the assistance of coalition partners.

“This progress means Australia is in a position to reduce our contribution from around 250 to 120 ADF personnel.”

The mission to build the capacity of the ISF is intended to equip Iraq with the capability to ‘take responsibility for its own security’.

Reynolds added: “Together with New Zealand, Australia has trained more than 45,000 members of the ISF who have played an important role in combatting Daesh in Iraq, and I was proud to see their work firsthand on my recent visit to Taji.”

The Australian Department of Defence stated that it will continue to support the international fight against the resurgence of the Islamic State. The country will work in coordination with coalition partners to ensure the terrorist group does not gather the resources required to start operations again.

In June, New Zealand revealed plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq in a phased manner. The government aims to achieve complete retreat of forces from Iraq by June 2020. (Source: army-technology.com)

04 Nov 19. NEMO trials underway off the UK coast. Participants from 13 NATO countries are taking part in Naval Electro Magnetic Operations (NEMO) trials off the south coast of the UK. The six-day trial provides an opportunity for NATO partners to test how they can defend themselves against anti-ship cruise and hypersonic missiles using state-of-the-art electronic defences.

During the drill, participants will seek to jam enemy missiles or divert them away from their targets using electronic defences. NEMO 19 will also see the use of infrared and radar measurements to reduce the susceptibility of ships to enemy radars and missiles. Tactical data exchanges between participating ships as well as voice procedures if data links are jammed or tampered with will also be put to the test.

As complex anti-ship missile systems proliferate around the globe, NEMO 19 is an important part of developing effective deterrence and defence postures, in order to ensure continued freedom of movement at sea.

Participating nations including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US are deploying ships, aircraft, measurement equipment and around 1500 personnel for the exercise, which will conclude on 5 November.

Oana Lungescu, NATO spokesperson, said: ‘NEMO 19 shows how Allies are working together to protect NATO forces from the threat of cruise and hypersonic missiles. This is NATO’s largest maritime electronic warfare exercise and a great example of how Allies are developing new defensive technology to meet emerging security challenges.’ (Source: Shephard)

31 Oct 19. NL MoD Celebrates Opening of New NH90 Training Facility in Den Helder. Royal Netherlands Air Force starts training on relocated NH90 FMFT. Rotorsim, the joint venture owned equally by CAE and Leonardo, today announced the successful start of training on the NH90 Full Mission Flight Trainer (FMFT) following its relocation from the Rotorsim training centre in Sesto Calende, Italy to a new training facility at Maritime Air Base de Kooy in Den Helder, the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Ministry of Defence (NLMOD) and Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command recently hosted a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new NH90 training facility in Den Helder.  The ceremony was attended by officers from the Royal Netherlands Navy and Royal Netherlands Air Force; officials from the NLMOD; executives from CAE, Leonardo and Rotorsim; and military officials from Italy and Belgium.

“We have trained our NH90 crews for the past eight years in Italy as part of the very successful Joint NH90 Training Program,” said Air Commodore Robert Adang, Commander of the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command.  “This new training facility in Den Helder now allows us to train our aircrews in the Netherlands while further advancing our synthetic training capabilities. The value of simulation-based training is critical to preparation and readiness, and the NH90 FMFT plays a key role in complex mission training for our NH90 aircrews.”

As part of the relocation of NH90 training, Rotorsim moved the NLMOD-owned NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) simulator cockpit from the Rotorsim training centre to the new facility in Den Helder.  In addition, the NLMOD had contracted CAE to design and manufacture a new roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) full-mission simulator mothership, which includes a six degree-of-freedom (DOF) electric motion system, high-performance vibration platform to replicate vibration cues critical to helicopter pilots, and the latest CAE Medallion-6000 image generator with laser projector display system. The RO/RO cockpit design enables cockpits representing various helicopter types to be used in the mothership simulator platform, thus giving the NLMOD the flexibility to add simulator cockpits in the future.  CAE, under subcontract from Rotorsim, will now provide on-site maintenance and support services on the NH90 full-flight and mission trainer in Den Helder.

“Through our Rotorsim joint venture with Leonardo, we are pleased to have supported the Netherlands NH90 training since 2011, and now assisting the Netherlands in relocating NH90 training to Den Helder,” said Marc-Olivier Sabourin, Vice President and General Manager, Defence & Security International, CAE.  “The NH90 FMFT is now entering service in Den Helder where CAE had supported the operations of the Joint Lynx helicopter simulator for over 25 years. (Source: ASD Network)

01 Nov 19. US NGB and Westefx develop vismods for Army’s M1097 HMMWV. The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has partnered with Westefx to develop a visual modification (VisMod) kit for the US Army’s M1097 HMMWV vehicles.

The new kits are designed to make the army’s force-on-force training for brigade combat teams (BCT) more realistic with battlefield effects.

Westefx is a Hollywood special effects company that was awarded a contract last year to enhance the eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) programme. The company was also contracted by NGB to improve its 21-day combat training exercises.

Westefx owner and lead designer Erick Brennan said: “No enhanced battlefield training simulators can compare with the functionality, realism, durability and cost-effectiveness of this new VisMod vehicle. They are pretty amazing and we are really proud of them.”

Currently, BCTs employ plastic, fibreglass, and sheet metal as visual modifications to simulate enemy vehicles.

According to NGB, the new kit is capable of replicating the army’s M1097 HMMWV into Russian T-72 main battle tanks and BTR-90 personnel carriers.

It is designed to provide ‘effective noise and visual signals’ for soldiers to undergo realistic training.

NGB XCTC programme manager major Aaron Ammerman said: “Taking a look at how VisMods are done across the army, I think these are the best I’ve ever seen.

“They will provide an exponentially more realistic threat signature for troops to train against as they do force-on-force exercises.”

Weighing around 1,700lb, the new kit with an inflatable canvas-like frame can be installed on a Humvee’s chassis.

The kits serve as a cost-effective alternative to actual combat vehicles and feature gas-operated weapon systems, MILES gear along with a smoke generator. The weapon systems can replicate the firing of .50-calibre and 125mm main guns. A total of 60 Humvees will be fitted with the kits. About 12 kits have already been deployed onto Humvees at the Idaho Army National Guard’s Orchard Combat Training Center. The remaining vehicles will be installed in the next three years. (Source: army-technology.com)

01 Nov 19. USAF names Luke AFB as candidate to host Belgium F-35A training unit. The US Air Force’s (USAF) Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona has been chosen as a potential candidate to host a long-term Belgium F-35A formal training unit. Luke AFB could host the training unit for up to seven years, starting in 2023.

A site survey at the base will be completed this year to evaluate whether it meets several criteria, including mission, capacity, cost, and environmental factors.

Once the survey is completed, an environmental impact analysis process will be undertaken.

USAF Secretary Barbara Barrett said: “Because of Luke AFB’s infrastructure and its experience in hosting international F-35 customers, Luke is uniquely suited to provide an optimal training environment for our Belgian Allies.

“Our partnership with Belgium has historic importance and will prove vital in our collective futures.”

The USAF has revealed that it intends to establish an additional permanent F-35 fighter aircraft training base to support the training needs of new foreign military sales customers.

In October last year, the Belgian Government selected the F-35 stealth aircraft over the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The $4.55bn deal includes the purchase of 34 F-35s to replace the country’s ageing F-16 fighters.

The fifth-generation F-35 stealth jets offer advanced capabilities and can avoid detection by enemy radars. It also provides Belgium interoperability with Nato and other allied assets. Meanwhile, the Luke AFB achieved a milestone earlier this week by surpassing 35,000 F-35 sorties since F-35 flight operations began in 2014. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

01 Nov 19. Britain’s 43 Commando Royal Marines undergo training in Gibraltar. Personnel from the 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, who guard the UK’s naval nuclear weapons, have honed their combat skills in Gibraltar. The two-week intensive training is intended to maintain the readiness of the marines to protect the nuclear deterrent. The 550-strong 43 Commando unit, which is based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland, is the last line of defence tasked with safeguarding the Trident missiles and their deployment submarines.

Squadrons O and P trained in close-quarters battle skills and practised securing critical infrastructure. Gibraltar presented the marines with a challenging and unfamiliar environment.

Training resembled conditions at the Clyde base and included jetties in an industrial and maritime setting.

During the Serpent Rock 19 training exercise, the marines moved at night through underground tunnels, before taking up their first objectives around the jetties.

The marines faced enemy forces and completed their task before daylight broke. The 43 members also participated in a scenario that involved securing a mock village.

P Squadron commanding officer major Dan Sawyers said: “Gibraltar is one of a number of overseas training areas that 43 Commando uses to keep its marines at a high level of readiness for its role back in Scotland.

“Making use of Gibraltar’s training facilities, in particular its working dockyard and tunnel system, which require marines to adopt a whole variety of traditional and novel approaches, allows us to put our personnel under considerable psychological and physical stress in an unfamiliar environment.

“In the maritime-industrial environment, where in the space of just a 100m you can encounter a constantly changing landscape, marines were continuously forced to identify and quickly change their tactics to deal with any threats they face.”

In August this year, the marines of O and P Squadrons trained in the Netherlands. (Source: naval-technology.com)

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