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14 Feb 19. PZL Mielec delivers third M28 aircraft to Germany’s PD Sicherheit. PZL Mielec has delivered the third M28 short take-off and landing aircraft to German defence training contractor PD Sicherheit. The delivery of the twin-engine high-wing aircraft is part of a sales contract signed between PZL Mielec and PD Sicherheit last year. It comes after PD Sicherheit acquired two M28 aircraft in 2017. PD Sicherheit is under a four-year contract with the German Ministry of Defense for the aircraft. PD Sicherheit intends to expand the scope of operations performed on the M28 beyond paratroop training to include other missions.
Designed and built in Poland, the 16,500lb aircraft is capable of operating on any runway regardless of surface type, whether it is gravel or a rough road. With a 22m-long wingspan, the M28 can fly at speeds as slow as 55k without stalling.
PZL Mielec, which is Lockheed Martin’s biggest production facility outside the US, equipped the M28s with the parachute jump rescue system (PJRS) following a request from the customer.
The rescue system is compatible with M28’s rear clamshell and enables a paratrooper to be pulled back on board in case of a parachute jump system failure.
So far, the company has delivered more than 100 M28 aircraft to commercial and military customers around the world.
Multiple configurations of the aircraft are deployed to perform passenger or cargo transport, parachute training, border patrol, and search and rescue. The C-145A variant of the M28 has been used by the US Air Force (USAF) to carry out air cargo missions in Afghanistan. In May last year, PZL Mielec received a contract from the Ecuador Army to deliver the aircraft. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Feb 19. Pakistan wraps up multinational naval drill as its approach to maritime security shifts. Pakistan on Tuesday wrapped up its sixth AMAN biennial multinational naval exercise, aiming to promote cooperation among regional and extra-regional navies to ensure security in the Indian Ocean. AMAN-19 was held Feb. 8-12 and involved 46 countries as well as international warships and observers.
Analyst, author, and former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, believes the exercise’s “professional value” was “minimal, as none of the participating navies is likely to demonstrate any techniques that are not already well-known.”
However, “as with all international naval exercises, there will be benefits from normal interaction and exchanges of views,” he added.
AMAN is one of the few multinational exercises where Chinese and U.S. warships regularly participate. But no American warships participated this year.
Pakistan Navy spokesman Commodore Arshad Javed said a two-star U.S. Navy officer assigned to the U.S. Navy-led Coalition Maritime Forces — or CMF, a collective security endeavor — was present during the sea phase.
AMAN-19 was held as Pakistan increasingly focuses on maritime security: The Pakistan Navy’s fleet commander, Vice Adm. Amjad Khan Niazi, specifically noted the country’s dependence on seaborne trade, its need to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, and its straddling sea lanes from the Arabian Gulf. (The CPEC project seeks to provide economic growth for the two countries and the surrounding region.)
Consequently, Pakistan left CMF in October to establish its own Regional Maritime Security Patrol, or RMSP, “to combat illicit activity in the maritime domain.”
But Kamal Alam, a Pakistan analyst at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said having participated in collective frameworks, most notably CMF, Pakistan still wants to remain “part of the international maritime security infrastructure as a responsible actor.”
He believes the RMSP furthers this goal and is not necessarily a shift toward unilateralism.
Javed told Defense News that Pakistan continues to support CMF operations and would consider assuming command of the group’s Combined Task Force 150 if invited to do so, but would maintain its focus on the RMSP.
An additional benefit to Pakistan’s various maritime security efforts, Alam noted, is the message it sends to India: that it cannot isolate Pakistan.
Likewise, Cloughley believes AMAN is important for Pakistan, partly due to India’s absence. “Islamabad regards this as a propaganda win, but there would be more international approval were India to be invited — and accepted,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
12 Feb 19. Thailand and US launch annual Cobra Gold military exercise. Thailand and the United States on Tuesday hosted the opening ceremony for the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers. Seven nations in addition to Thailand and the United States are active participants: Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. About 4,500 U.S. personnel, on land and sea, are taking part. The acting head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Thailand, Peter Haymond, said at the ceremony in the northern Thai province of Phitsanulok that the aim of the exercise, first held in 1982, is to strengthen cooperation and inter-operability.
There are three major components of the exercise, which ends Feb. 22: military field training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training. Its goals include “enhancing maritime security, preventing and mitigating emerging disease threats, and responding to large-scale natural disasters,” a U.S. statement said.
The ceremony was attended by Thai Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the U.S. Army First Corps, Lt. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, representing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
“We have witnessed that this Thai-American initiative has become a significant milestone of military collaboration that has expanded to the regional level,” a statement issued by the exercise quoted Pornpipat as saying.
“I believe that not only has Cobra Gold served as a platform for understanding and working together in the region, but has now become beneficial for our other strategic partners,” he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
12 Feb 19. Pentagon to funnel tens of millions into cyber training for American soldiers. The Pentagon is investing tens of millions of dollars into new cyber training centers, which comes as the American military has pledged to take more offensive operations in cyberspace.
Three recently announced solicitations are all efforts to expand the cyber training environment for American soldiers, which was recently called insufficient by experts.
The Air Force released a Feb. 5 public solicitation to support expansion of its CyberWorx project by building new training facilities located at the service’s academy in Colorado. The $30 million expansion is expected to be the first phase of the project and will include new cyber research and testing facilities. CyberWorx is a Pentagon effort to partner with cybersecurity businesses and researchers. Ultimately, the Air Force vision includes a 40,000-square-foot center at the Air Force Academy in Colorado that will also be home to the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Innovation.
The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence also released a public solicitation for information about classroom and virtual training and hands-on exercises for the center’s cybersecurity courses. Specifically, the solicitation notes a need for instructors and doctrine developers. The Army Cyber Center of Excellence provides training to American soldiers and is home to its signals school, among other institutions.
Finally, a Feb. 8 solicitation details U.S. Army plans to build new cyber ranges in four locations; Orlando, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, Patuxent River, Maryland, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Tied specifically to the Pentagon’s new cyber mission force, the new ranges are an effort to conduct more cybersecurity training and certification events.
The flurry of solicitations comes as the Trump administration announced plans to be more aggressive in cyberspace, and require more hackers. But experts have criticized the lack of hands on training that American soldiers receive.
“A common mantra within the U.S. military has been to ‘train as you fight,’” wrote Jennifer McArdle, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a Jan. 25 paper. “Yet, live training fails to replicate with fidelity the type of cyber and informationized operations that war fighters will experience in a contested and complex battlespace.” (Source: Defense News)
08 Feb 19. British Army tests innovative virtual reality training. The British Army has awarded a software developer a £1m contract to explore how virtual reality can be integrated into soldier training. The Virtual Reality in Land Training (VRLT) pilot has been created by Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BiSim), a global developer of military simulation and training software. The aim of this pilot is to enhance future Army training by exploiting the benefits of this technology. The contract was awarded through the £800m Defence Innovation Fund which helps develop cutting-edge ideas to benefit front-line services. The VRLT pilot is one of many successful Army bids into the Fund, part of the Defence Innovation Initiative.
The pilot will test specific VR applications including:
- High Resolution VR Headsets to improve environmental immersion.
- Mixed Reality which will allow soldiers to see and interact with physical objects.
- Avatar customisation replicating realistic facial features and body shapes allowing users to recognise their fellow soldiers.
- After-Action Review Enhancement which provides data capture and analysis so that soldiers can better understand their own performance.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our Armed Forces have always embraced innovation and continue to push the boundaries of technological advancement. We are committed to harnessing new and emerging capabilities like virtual reality through our £800m Defence Innovation Fund.”
Army Head of Training Capability, Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight CBE said: “The Army has a reputation for world class training which prepares our people for demanding and complex operations. Our training continually develops and so we constantly look for the best technology to make it as effective as possible. Innovations such as Virtual Reality offer immersive and flexible training, and this pilot is pushing the boundaries to explore how we might make best use of it.”
VRLT will allow soldiers to train in a wide-range of complex and hostile simulated scenarios that are not easy to recreate on a training ground. The system will be able to place troops in the middle of an urban firefight, intense crowd control situation or within a building filled with enemy soldiers.
Virtual reality allows training situations to be quickly set-up, re-run and analysed to demonstrate the most effective approaches to real-life challenges on the battlefield. The pilot will explore the potential benefits and effectiveness of virtual reality for the British Army. At the end of the programme, recommendations will be put forward on how to best exploit this new technology for soldier training.
UK Armed Forces already utilise simulation to hone the skills of their service personnel. At the end of last year, RAF Odiham unveiled their £53m Chinook simulators which replicate real-life operations. The Royal Navy also benefit from Bridge Simulators which create an immersive experience that allows officers to take charge of a vessel in a range of weather and emergency conditions. (Source: U.K. MoD)
Meggitt Training Systems, makers of FATS® and Caswell technologies, a division of Meggitt PLC, is the leading supplier of integrated live-fire and virtual weapons training systems. Following the acquisition of FATS® virtual training systems and Caswell International’s live-fire ranges and services, Meggitt Training Systems continues to grow its capabilities based on the legacy of these two industry leaders. Over 13,600 Meggitt live-fire ranges and 5,100 virtual systems are fielded internationally, providing judgmental, situational awareness and marksmanship training to the armed forces, law enforcement and security organizations. Meggitt Training Systems employs more than 400 people at its headquarters in Atlanta and at facilities in Orlando, Canada, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, UAE, Australia and Singapore. It can deploy service personnel anywhere in the world for instructor training, system installation and maintenance. Learn more at https://meggitttrainingsystems.com/