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21 Jan 20. U.S., Colombian Paratroopers to Participate in Airborne Assault Exercise. Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and 40 personnel from U.S. Army South will participate in an airborne assault exercise in Colombia. During the Jan. 23-29 exercise, U.S. and Colombian paratroopers will conduct an airborne training insertion from C-130 Hercules aircraft of both nations, followed by tactical exercises designed to simulate the securing of an airfield, U.S. Southern Command officials said.
U.S. and Colombian service members will practice working together and will share strategic and tactical expertise, officials added.
“We are honored to train with Colombia, a close friend of the U.S. and global partner to NATO,” said Navy Adm. Craig Faller, the Southcom commander. “This airborne exercise demonstrates the interoperability, lethality and professionalism of our militaries.”
Southcom routinely conducts partner and multinational exercises throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen partnerships, build readiness, and increase interoperability, officials noted, adding that this exercise illustrates the command’s enduring commitment to the Western Hemisphere. (Source: US DoD)
22 Jan 20. Saab begins T-X assembly. Saab has started assembly of the first aft-fuselage section of the T-7A Red Hawk for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) T-X trainer aircraft replacement programme.
The Swedish manufacturer said on 21 January that it had begun building the first section from just aft of the cockpit to the rear of the trainer aircraft that it has developed as a partner to the T-X prime contractor, Boeing.
“In little over a year since we signed the EMD contract, we are starting production of our part of the T-7A jet,” Saab said in a statement.
With two production representative jets (PRJs) already built and flying, the EMD contract awarded in September 2018 was for five more aircraft for flight trials, plus one fuselage for static and one fuselage for fatigue testing.
Saab is now building these seven EMD aft-fuselage units at its plant in Linköping, Sweden, ahead of transfer to Boeing’s St. Louis facility in Missouri for aircraft final assembly. As noted by Saab, the work currently being carried out in Linköping will be transferred to West Lafayette in Indiana, where sections for about 60 aircraft will be turned out per year.
Previously, Saab has declined to say when the first EMD aircraft will fly, noting that “this is very sensitive information for the USAF”.
Besides Boeing and Saab, other industry suppliers so far disclosed comprise General Electric, Triumph Group, Collins Aerospace, L3 Technologies, and Elbit Systems.
The USAF has a programme-of-record of 351 Red Hawk 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 (AFB), Texas, in 2023, initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2024. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38C to the T-7A, including those at Columbus AFB, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB and Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Vance AFB, Oklahoma. (Source: Jane’s)
23 Jan 20. US Naval installations to participate in CS/SC 2020 exercise. All naval installations within the US are set to take part in the scheduled Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain (CS/SC) 2020 exercise conducted from 3-14 February. CS/SC 2020 is an annual two-week anti-terrorism and force protection (ATFP) exercise.
Citadel Shield, which is run by Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), will take place in the first week.
Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) will run the Solid Curtain exercise during the second week.
During the CS/SC 2020 exercise, US Navy security forces will undergo realistic scenarios aimed at maintaining a high level of readiness.
Naval District Washington (NDW) exercise analyst Tim Stoessel said: “Now that we have completed the annual training and inspection of the navy security forces, we try to use Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain as a continuation of our training for our ATFP security forces.
“We usually either do an active shooter or active attacker scenario.”
The significance of the CS/SC exercises is highlighted by real-world events, such as the shootings at Naval Air Station Pensacola and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
NDW training and exercise director Matthew Brown said: “One of the things we’re looking at is the possibility of internal threats.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of protecting our fence lines, but unfortunately, some of the incidents that have occurred recently have taken place inside the fence lines.”
Personnel are required to register for the AtHoc wide-area alert network so they are aware of force protection conditions and other emergency, environmental, or exercise-related impacts on the area.
The focus is on staggered entry and exit times for personnel working on installations to limit traffic at entry control points.
They are also required to keep themselves familiar with their command or tenant command anti-terrorism plan.
Last November, the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) concluded a bilateral maritime exercise to bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: naval-technology.com)
21 Jan 20. Britain orders Airbus H145 helos amid scramble to fix pilot shortage. Rotary pilot and rear crew training capabilities for the British military have been given a lift with an order for additional Airbus helicopters in part of a wider boost to a package of improvements announced Jan. 21 by the Ministry of Defence.
The £183m (U.S. $238m) deal will see Airbus supply four of its H145 helicopters to the rotary wing element of the U.K. Military Flying Training System program. UKMFTS is run by the Babcock-Lockheed Martin joint venture Ascent Flight Training Management in partnership with the MoD.
Aside from the H145 helos, known in Britain as Jupiters, the MoD has funded the acquisition of another simulator and infrastructure improvements at Royal Air Force Shawbury, the headquarters of Britain’s tri-service helicopter training effort.
“The new H145 helicopters and simulator will enable students to learn how to fly a range of missions, covering expected scenarios on operational deployment. In addition, the H145s enable students to practice winching tasks and rear crew activities,” the MoD said in a statement announcing the deal.
“It is part of a wider program to increase training capacity for UK military pilots overall, as part of the £3.2bn UKMFTS program and helps address the increased demand for pilot training identified in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review,” the statement added.
The helicopter element of MFTS currently operates 29 Airbus H135s for basic training, and three H145s for more advanced pilot training and particularly for rear crew work like winching. The H135 is known in Britain as the Juno. All four aircraft are expected to be delivered to the MFTS program by the end of this year.
The more than doubling of the H145 fleet reflects the increasing number of rotary rear crew and pilots required by the British military. Crew shortages in fixed- and rotary-wing sectors have caused concern at the MoD, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace saying late last year that fixing the problem is a top priority. To help meet demand, additional fixed-wing aircraft may also be added to a fleet that already includes T-6 Texans, Phenon multi-engine trainers and King Air rear crew trainers. (Source: Defense News)
20 Jan 20. RAAF Top Guns complete Luke AFB training mission. After achieving all training milestones, the Royal Australian Air Force began to return F-35A Joint Strike Fighter pilots, maintainers and aircraft to Australia from Luke Air Force Base in December 2019.
The RAAF began training at Luke AFB with the 61st Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit in December 2014 with two F-35s. Since then, 34 Australian pilots and 16 instructor pilots have earned their certification, and as of January 2020, the RAAF owns 20 F-35s.
Air Commodore Terry Van Haren, Australian Air attaché, welcomed this major milestone for Australia’s introduction of the fifth-generation platform: “It’s going to be the start of another great working relationship and will continue what has been one of the most successful alliances in the last hundred years.
“We have achieved a lot in the last five years since we started training here with the 56th Fighter Wing, 944th FW, 61st FS, 61st AMU and Lockheed Martin.”
In the future, Australian pilots and maintainers will train in Australia; however, they will remain regular visitors to Luke AFB.
The RAAF plans to transition one of its existing units into an operational F-35 fighter wing within the next three years, said AIRCDRE Van Haren.
Wing Commander Jordon Sander, 61st Fighter Squadron Australian Senior National Representative and new commander of RAAF No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (No. 2 OCU), explained, “Luke AFB is the RAAF’s F-35A delivery point, and Australian pilots will return several times a year to ferry the country’s new fifth generation fighters to Australia.”
On 16 December, the No. 2 OCU, located at RAAF Base Williamtown, Australia, ceased training F/A-18 Hornet pilots and transitioned into an F-35A training squadron – No. 2 OCU will train all future RAAF F-35A pilots and maintainers.
“Working alongside each other has seen the USAF challenge some of our ideas and vice versa. The relationship has helped us look inwards and ask ourselves why we do things the way we do,” WGCDR Sander added.
Australia is one of seven nations currently partnered with Luke. The ability to work with other nations creates unique training opportunities for pilots and instructors from both countries.
WCDR Sander explained, “We have lifted each other in training world-class warfighters and, as our pilots return to Australia, they do so with the latest information on F-35 employment and training. When we find ourselves in the skies together during coalition operations, our time at Luke AFB will allow us to effectively integrate in the projection of combat airpower.”
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is billed as a catalyst for the fifth-generation revolution, changing the face and capability of the RAAF and the wider Australian Defence Force.
For the RAAF, the F-35A’s combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.
The F-35A – the variant chosen by the RAAF – will have with a projected life of 30 years in service.
Ten nations are currently flying F-35s, including the US, UK, Italy, Norway, Israel and Japan. The first of Australia’s F-35A aircraft are now based on home soil after a period of training and development at Luke AFB, plus an epic Pacific Ocean crossing in December 2018.
More than 340 F-35s are operating today with partner nations, more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 170,000 cumulative flight hours.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17bn AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Jan 20. Pentagon seeks proposals for future Pilot Training Next prototypes. Key Points:
- The Pentagon has issued a solicitation to further its Pilot Training Next work
- Desired technologies include network and data architecture and simulation environment
The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) is soliciting proposals from industry to build upon the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Pilot Training Next (PTN) experiment.
PTN is the USAF’s effort to decrease the time and cost of pilot training without sacrificing the depth of learning. This commercial solutions opening’s (CSO’s) initial prototype will focus on training in the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II, the primary trainer aircraft for the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN). The Northrop T-38C Talon will also be an initial area of focus.
Prototypes ready for initial test and evaluation by about September 2020 are highly desired. However, novel approaches requiring additional development that offer significant increases in effectiveness, suitability, or affordability will also be considered. Affordability, portability of the system, and technical maturity will all be considered as factors in the selection of vendors.
DIUx spokesperson Johanna Spangenberg Jones said on 13 January that the CSO is a very business-oriented contract that attempts to work at the speed of business with data rights and intellectual property (IP) that are negotiable. DIUx uses other transaction agreements (OTAs) to partner with both non-traditional and traditional defence contractors and non-profit research institutions to carry out prototype projects.
The Pentagon may award one or more awards based on the responses from industry. Spangenberg Jones said that it is possible that a single company responds with optimal solutions to the programme’s subproblems but DIUx is leaving an opportunity to both company-negotiated and government-directed teaming arrangements. She declined to say how much money DIUx budgeted for this solicitation.
Any prototype OTA awarded for this programme may result in the award of a follow-on production contract or transaction without the use of further competitive procedures. (Source: Jane’s)
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