Sponsored by Meggitt Training Systems
14 May 20. Meggitt Training Systems wins US Marine Corps contract for additional wireless virtual weapons. Meggitt Training Systems announced today it has been awarded a $2.6m contract for additional BlueFire® wireless virtual weapons to be used by the US Marine Corps on its Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer (ISMT), also delivered by the company as a program of record. The BlueFire M9 pistols, M4 rifles and M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles will be used at several USMC bases throughout the United States. Deliveries to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany will begin within the next 90 days and should be completed by December 2020.
“This order for additional BlueFire weapons demonstrates the value they and ISMT deliver in terms of virtual firearms training for Marines who must be ready to deploy anywhere at any time,” said Andrea Czop, vice president of strategy, sales and marketing. “Only Meggitt Training Systems can engineer and deliver weapons that so closely match form, fit and function of the originals, paired with our FATS®-based trainer that features military-certified ballistics for the highest accuracy in marksmanship training.”
Meggitt was originally awarded the $32m, five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity ISMT contract in 2014, delivering and installing 490 systems installed at locations worldwide. As a certified program of record, ISMT trains new and experienced Marines in marksmanship, collective scenarios and judgmental video scenarios. Each mode provides critical training based on the skill level of the individual or unit. BlueFire weapons use commercial wireless technology to communicate with ISMT and other FATS based virtual training systems, giving the same control as tethered weapons, but with full range of movement. These patented weapon simulators can be used in conjunction with other tethered weapon simulators without modification. For enhanced, more realistic visuals, Meggitt’s BlueFire weapon simulators feature a 3D marksmanship training environment. The after-action review allows engagement and shot assessment in a 3D virtual environment, while providing detailed trainee diagnostics for skill reinforcement or correction.
12 May 20. Firms win Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative contracts. The Australian Government has awarded three defence contracts worth $6m to three central Queensland-based companies. Awarded under the $2.25bn Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI), the contracts aim to reinforce the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
Companies awarded for various civil and fencing works are JRT Civil in Yeppoon, Bellequip in Rockhampton, as well as Tunuba in Rockhampton.
Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The government has agreed Singapore’s training in Australia can proceed, with strict adherence to Covid-19 quarantine and other requirements.
“Following close consultation with Singapore, we expect training will be on a smaller scale than previous years due to Covid-19. This includes not proceeding with Exercise Wallaby in 2020.
“Singapore’s training will still carry significant benefits for both countries, including through the ASMTI. The ASMTI will deliver advanced military training areas in central and north Queensland that meet the future needs of both armed forces.”
The contracts will support growth in the industry and the local economy. It will create new job opportunities and help development.
The companies are among the 15 firms engaged for design and construction of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area expansion.
Reynolds added: “We are seeing the real benefits of the ASMTI flowing to the local region with up to 200 contract works packages to be made available over the life of the project, and the projects construction workforce expected to peak at 450 people, as part of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area expansion.”
“These contract packages will be key to bolstering growth and supporting jobs as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.” (Source: army-technology.com)
14 May 20. Aussie SME GaardTech releases footage of 2D cresting target lifters. GaardTech, which specialises in the production of tank and reconnaissance ground enemy target systems, has released footage of its MBT/AFV Combative Shooting Range System. The set-up is designed to replicate mounted combat in a simple, cost-effective system.
The Brisbane-based, veteran-owned SME is well known for taking innovative approaches in the target space. Last year, the company released a 3D robotic tank target, capable of up to 30km of cross-country movement.
Steen Bisgaard, Gaardtech’s founding director, said, “This system has been the culmination of months of work by the team and integrates numerous emerging technologies to achieve a highly functional, reliable and smart training system, which will challenge AFV crews and combat drills like no other range system on the market.”
“This is enabled by its high visual and thermal realism, vehicle cresting drills, active shoot back characteristics, laser systems and battlefield effects, which is controlled by the smart autonomous range software, which ‘fights back’ to ensure the training audience experiences the realisms of combat.”
Gaardtech also said the platform works well in small test spaces with fixed-range bunkers. Alternatively, the model can be taken out and placed onto temporary ranges, making it suitable for in-barracks laser training as well as AFV-FFTS live firing or short-term range establishments in remote locations.
The range system is controlled by GaardTech’s proprietary range control software and integrates a long range wireless network for simple set-up and control in all conditions.
“Every aspect of the training is captured and the data enables insights into the skill and competence of a commander and gunners,” added Bisgaard.
“We expect drills and combat TTP’s to change as there are two outcomes from engaging with this system, you survive or perish and learn why. We are eager to see this system put to the test by the ADF and will be presenting it to the UK Army and US Army as an option for their fixed-range upgrades.” (Source: Defence Connect)
13 May 20. Pentagon’s European exercise campaign resumes with US-Polish drill. Following a lull in military exercises due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Army Europe plans to resume its wider training campaign with a drill in Poland next month.
The June 5-19 exercise, Allied Spirit, will take place at Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in northwestern Poland and is slated to include a Polish airborne operation and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing, according to a statement issued by the Wiesbaden, Germany-based command.
The drill was originally planned for this month as an ancillary event to U.S. European Command’s large-scale Defender Europe drill. Military officials have vowed to implement health precautions to protect participants and the local population.
For the reemergence of the Defender Europe campaign, exercise planners are able to work with equipment stocks that were previously drawn from storage sites in Europe or shipped from U.S. installations before the order to halt the deployment came down in March.
“In total, over 6,000 Soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment arrived in Europe, and over 9,000 vehicles were moved from Army Prepositioned Stocks to training areas in Germany,” U.S. Army Europe said in a statement.
Officials claim that “many of the strategic readiness objectives were met” despite the monthslong pause.
Of the 6,000 soldiers to be involved in Allied Spirit next month, roughly 4,000 will come from U.S. Army units, including the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters (Forward); the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team; and the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, the command statement read.
The 2,000 Polish participants will come from the 6th Polish Airborne Brigade; the 9th Polish Armored Calvary Brigade; and the 12th Polish Mechanized Brigade.
The drill in Poland picks up on the overarching theme of deploying allied formations from Germany to would-be hot spots on NATO’s eastern flank, with sizable rivers presenting obstacles along the way.
The topography in northern Poland resembles that of the Missouri lake region, which means proficiency in so-called wet-gap crossing operations is paramount in massing allied troops to reinforce the Baltics just to the east, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Defense News.
“In actual conflict you can’t assume all the highway bridges would still be standing,” he said.
NATO armies have the capability of building ad hoc bridges for tanks and other heavy equipment, most notably the U.K. and Germany with their M3 amphibious vehicles. “The problem is there is not enough of it,” Hodges said.
The shortfall puts the spotlight on the larger problem of military mobility in Europe. The Defender Europe exercise and its offspring drills are meant to test the flow of personnel and equipment across borders on the continent. The tasks involve sorting out the bureaucratic and infrastructure-related differences impeding the rapid transit of cargo.
Meanwhile, an envisioned multibillion-dollar European Union fund aimed at boosting all aspects of military mobility among member states stands to be all but axed as the bloc’s focus shifts to economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis, according to a Reuters report this week.
NATO officials have had a keen interest in the money, as it would inject military specifications into infrastructure planing all over the continent.
Camille Grand, assistant secretary general for defense investment at NATO, told Defense News the objective will remain a priority regardless of what happens to the EU funding commitment.
“I’m afraid it is heavily connected to the overall outcome of the budget discussion, and we won’t see the outcome until the end of the year,” he said in an interview last month.
If the fund were to go away, he said, individual nations would have to step up in seeing their bridges, tunnels and railway upgrades through.
“It’s the sort of investment that it would be great for the EU to invest into this and that we highly welcome at NATO, but it is not something that is out of reach. It might take a little longer or will have to be financed through other means, but at the end of the day it’s not a showstopper,” he said.
As for the work to streamline cross-border transit procedures, that’s moving “quite rapidly, both in an EU and NATO context,” he said.
According to U.S. Army Europe, future drills are planned in the Baltics involving the command’s 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command and 41st Field Artillery Brigade. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is also planning airborne operations in the Balkans and Black Sea region. (Source: Defense News)
13 May 20. New naval variant of GAIC’s JL-9 advanced jet trainer conducts maiden flight. A new naval variant of the Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation (GAIC) JL-9 Shanying (‘Mountain Eagle’) advanced jet trainer (AJT) conducted its first flight on 12 May.
This “improved” variant, which is being developed under the company’s ‘Sea Mountain Eagle’ programme, took off from Anshun Huangguoshu Airport in China’s southern Guizhou Province, said GAIC in a statement, without providing further details about the two-seat, single-engined aircraft or linking the platform to carrier take-off and landing training.
The maiden flight came after the company announced on 20 April via its Weixin social media site that it had assembled the first airframe under the programme “in record time”.
A little over a month earlier, on 16 March, GAIC had indicated that it was working on a project of major importance. It illustrated the post with a computer-generated image showing a JL-9 trainer overflying one of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) aircraft carriers, fuelling speculation that it was developing a trainer aircraft suitable for carrier deck landings.
Judging from images recently released by the company, the new ‘Sea Mountain Eagle’ variant, which was shown bearing PLAN Air Force (PLANAF) insignia, features what seem to be modified extended wingtips featuring apparent split surface airbrakes similar in design to those on the ex-US Navy Grumman A-6 Intruder carrier-borne aircraft. It also features what seems to be a different braking parachute housing.
Compared to the JL-9G variant, which entered service with the Naval Aviation University’s 3rd Regiment in 2013 and was adapted for land-based carrier training, the visible changes in the ‘Sea Mountain Eagle’ variant seem to be related to features aimed at improving flight performance at low speeds, which is important during final approach on a carrier. (Source: Jane’s)
13 May 20. Defence co-operation with Singapore fuels central Queensland economy. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced the government is delivering economic stimulus for the central Queensland region with three local companies awarded nearly $6m in Defence contracts.
Minister Reynolds said the contracts were being delivered under the $2.25bn Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI), and reflected the strength of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“Singapore is a close defence partner, with a shared commitment to regional stability. It has conducted training in Australia for almost 30 years,” Minister Reynolds said
“The government has agreed Singapore’s training in Australia can proceed, with strict adherence to COVID-19 quarantine and other requirements. Following close consultation with Singapore, we expect training will be on a smaller scale than previous years due to COVID-19. This includes not proceeding with Exercise Wallaby in 2020.
“Singapore’s training will still carry significant benefits for both countries, including through the ASMTI. The ASMTI will deliver advanced military training areas in central and north Queensland that meet the future needs of both armed forces.
“We are seeing the real benefits of the ASMTI flowing to the local region with up to 200 contract works packages to be made available over the life of the project, and the projects construction workforce expected to peak at 450 people, as part of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area expansion.
“These contract packages will be key to bolstering growth and supporting jobs as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the new contracts were a positive sign for the industry and the local economy during a challenging period.
“The Morrison government is committed to maximising opportunities for local industry across the life of the ASMTI, and it is great to see these work packages being rolled out in central Queensland,” Minister Price said.
“This is tangible evidence our Local Industry Capability Plan initiative, targeted at maximising the opportunity for local businesses to be involved in Defence infrastructure projects, continues to deliver for the region and the Defence portfolio.”
Federal member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the important Defence work comes at a time when the local economy is trying to move quickly to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is particularly pleasing that $5.7m in contracts is going to three businesses based in the Rockhampton and Livingstone Shire regions,” Landry said.
“This includes Tunuba Pty Ltd, a joint venture between CQG Consulting and the Darumbal people, who are the traditional owners of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and focus on employing locals.”
The following contracts have been awarded for various civil and fencing works:
- JRT Civil (Yeppoon) – Design and construction of a combination of temporary and permanent works associated with access to precincts and hardstands for site establishment;
- Bellequip (Rockhampton) – Precinct site set up and access including civil works for site compound; and
- Tunuba (Rockhampton) – Delineation fencing.
They are among 15 companies based in the Rockhampton and Livingston Shire that have so far been engaged for design and construction of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area expansion. (Source: Defence Connect)
11 May 20. Iran missile hits own ship in fatal accident. An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing 19 Iranian sailors and wounding 15, Iran’s military and state media said Monday, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. The statement significantly raised the death toll in Sunday’s incident from what was reported just hours earlier, when Iran’s state media said at least one sailor was killed.
The Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, which was taking part in the exercise, was too close to a target during an exercise on Sunday when the incident happened, the reports said. The vessel had been putting targets out for other ships to target. The media said the missile struck the vessel accidentally.
The friendly fire incident took place near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran, in the Gulf of Oman, state TV said.
A local hospital admitted 12 sailors and treated another three with slight wounds, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
Iranian media said the Konarak had been overhauled in 2018 and was able to launch sea and anti-ship missiles. The Dutch-made, 47-meter (155-foot) vessel was in service since 1988 and had capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.
Iran towed the Konarak into a nearby naval base after the strike. A photograph released by the Iranian army showed burn marks and some damage to the vessel, though the military did not immediately offer detailed photographs of the site of the missile’s impact.
Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during exercises by the country’s armed forces, signaling the severity of the incident. It also comes amid months of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country.
It marks the second serious incident involving a misfired missile by Iran’s armed forces this year. In January, after attacking U.S. forces in Iraq with ballistic missiles, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
11 May 20. Electronic Signals Training Goes Virtual During Pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many military organizations around the world adopted teleworking as the new norm. In compliance with federal social distancing guidance, the 17th Training Wing shifted two-thirds of its Apprentice Electronic Signals Intelligence Analyst Course, or 1N2A, material to digital delivery while safely maintaining the critical hands-on training component at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.
“Our course was uniquely positioned and able to move to an integrated distance learning model when the need for social distancing became apparent,” Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patrick Sordyl, the 316th Training Squadron course supervisor, said. “This allows us to get our students out of cramped classrooms and move to more open areas on base. Now, instead of having 14 students sitting next to each other, the students may be in rooms with only one or two other students.”
The 1N2A course is an entry-level course that teaches data analysis for the pilot’s benefit during mission planning.
“This course is the first-level training for electronic intelligence,” Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Preiser, a 316th Training Squadron instructor, said. “We teach electromagnetic spectrum theory, radar theory and how it’s applied for the Air Force.”
A student-centric model of instruction was in the works for almost a year, but COVID-19 expedited the process by forcing the course to go digital sooner than expected.
“The Air Force and Marine instructors have transitioned our course to a more student-centric model of instruction,” Sordyl said. “This allowed us to give our students their materials and learning objectives so that the students can be in the driver’s seat for their training.”
The materials transitioning to virtual learning required proper security reviews.
“We’ve reviewed course materials and ensured the transitioned material was unclassified or for official use only,” Air Force Tech Sgt. Jacob Trentmann, the deputy course director with the 316th Training Squadron, said. “We’ve been utilizing a tool called ‘Milsuite,’ which can only be accessed with a common access card.”
The in-classroom portion of the course had to adapt to meet the emerging health code standards.
“While in the classroom, we have split the classes in half,” Preiser said. “It actually gives us more time to focus the training on fewer students, and it’s been beneficial.”
These course concepts and intelligence skills can also be applied throughout the whole military domain.
“The greatest advantage of integrating courses with our sister services is the unique perspectives and experiences that come from working in a joint environment,” Sordyl said. “By having other viewpoints in the training we conduct, we can provide much more robust and realistic training to our students while preparing them for joint service environments.”
As a joint base, Goodfellow strives to advance not just the Air Force, but the entire military force as a whole.
“Our students are shown how intelligence is used not just with a focus on the airborne domain, but the shipborne and land-based domains as well,” Sordyl said. “On top of that, the students are exposed to other services’ unique cultures, which leads to much stronger teams and better communication skills when they reach their capstone exercises and go on to their operational units.”
Learning different cultures can also help develop new perspectives.
“Everywhere our students go after graduation, it’s a completely different mission, with different customers, and working with different military services,” Preiser said. “This is a good initial opportunity for — in our case both the airmen and Marines — to see the military and see the career field from different perspectives.” (Source: US DoD)
08 May 20. Modified exercise Spring Storm kicks off in Estonia. Allied forces have kicked off live-fire training in Estonia, as part of the annual exercise Spring Storm. Led by Estonia, Spring Storm tests the integration between NATO troops and the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), strengthening their ability in times of crisis. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s exercise is scaled down, with around 3,200 troops participating, compared to 9,000 last year.
“Despite the difficult situation, the training goals practiced during the year must be achieved, but at the same time the exposure to civil society must be reduced,” said Major General Martin Herem, Commander of the EDF. To avoid contact with the civilian population, training is being held exclusively on the grounds of the EDF Central Training Area, and reserve troops will not take part. The exercise involves active EDF personnel, conscripts undergoing training and around 1,000 troops assigned to the NATO multinational battlegroup in Tapa, Estonia. The battlegroup is led by the United Kingdom and includes forces from Denmark.
Spring Storm aims to test the readiness of NATO forces in responding to a fictional crisis. This year, it offers the opportunity to demonstrate the Alliance’s capabilities under the difficult conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Spring Storm shows how NATO forces can continue to test their readiness, while taking necessary measures protect their health and those of others. Our forces remain ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any threat,” said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
08 May 20. HMS Kent concludes cold-weather operations in the Arctic. HMS Kent will today leave the Barents Sea after seven days of cold-weather operations in the icy waters of the Arctic Circle.
While many in the Armed Forces rightly continue to focus on supporting the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ship’s company of HMS Kent have contributed to the Royal Navy’s commitment to global operations and ensuring we are prepared for future threats.
The ship has been working as part of a combined US and UK task group, practising further integration with our allies and proving her ability to operate at sea in sub-zero temperatures hundreds of miles inside the Arctic Circle.
More than 1,200 military personnel from the UK and US have been involved – conducting key training in support of the UK’s Defence, while the UK Armed Forces continue support to the NHS and others in the fight against COVID-19.
Rear Admiral Simon Asquith, the Royal Navy’s Commander Operations, said: “While sailors and marines in the UK support the national effort against COVID-19, the ship’s company of HMS Kent are hard at work ensuring that the Royal Navy remains capable of operating in the most challenging environments fundamental to the UK’s vital interests.
“The rules-based international system enables freedom on the high seas for all nations. The Arctic exemplifies this and is an area for cooperation on numerous issues, including security and trade.”
Commander Matt Sykes, the Commanding Officer of HMS Kent, said: “It has been rewarding to work in this part of the world and it is vitally important that the UK should take a strong interest in maintain stability and security in the region.
“Over the last week we have enhanced our ability to work with our US allies while also demonstrating the Royal Navy’s ability to operate in the region, now and in the future.”
The ship has been working alongside destroyers USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and the USS Roosevelt as well as fast combat support ship USNS Supply.
Engineering Technician Cameron Warren said: “It has been interesting to work in the Arctic region but also surprisingly normal. It has shown me that our training really does prepare us for anything. I have enjoyed the surreal experience of being able to go on the upper deck at any time of day or night as it’s always light outside.”
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the Portsmouth-based warship marked the occasion in the permanent daylight of the Arctic with a poignant remembrance service on her flight deck.
It was especially personal for Cdr Sykes, whose great-grandfather Chief Petty Officer Frank Hodges served in the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh in the Arctic Convoys.
Cdr Sykes said: “It has been a privilege to operate my own ship in the same area as my great-grandfather and it is only fitting that we took time to pause and remember all of those who fought in this challenging, but also beautiful, place.”
In the last 12 months, HMS Kent has operated around the world and seen the full spectrum of challenging conditions in the past year, having operated in the high temperatures of the Gulf last year before taking up her tasking in the north Atlantic and high north.
The ship’s activity plays a key role in the defence of the United Kingdom. The Royal Navy continues to conduct essential operations around the world ensuring the defence of the UK’s global interests now and in the future. (Source: Royal Navy)
Meggitt introduces the next generation of immersive training — the FATS® 180MIL.
Delivering 180° high definition projection and 5.1 surround sound, the FATS 180MIL increases training realism, heightening awareness and proper use of force responses. Three borderless screens fit into almost any space with at least a 10’ tall ceiling, providing a 150” X 84” (16:9 aspect ratio) borderless projection surface. It also includes:
- Military Validation – The same high-fidelity ballistic engine validated by the US Army, USMC and other military customers.
o Provides accurate ballistic characteristics in flight.
o Supports and enforces the proper fundamentals of marksmanship.
- Immersive Training – Supports both 3D Marksmanship and Judgmental training.
- Courseware – Delivered with full array of training courseware.
- Hit Detection System – Three digital cameras interface directly with Off-CPU real-time (OCR) processor used by FATS® 100 system for easy upgrade path.
- Projectors – Ultra short throw projectors provide freedom of movement, displaying stunning visuals in 180°environment.
- Low-Light Subsystem (optional) – Practice in simulated low-light conditions with hand-held and weapon-mounted flashlights.
- Rack – Uses same transportable rack as the FATS 100 system.
- Realistic Sounds – Self-powered audio system plays scenarios in 5.1 surround sound. Using directional sound effects board, the instructor can incorporate unsettling sounds from any direction, including barking dog, crying baby, gunshots and more to elevate situational awareness.
- Supports up to 60 simulated weapons, including FATS weapons and ammunition types. Up to 4 simulated weapons can be assigned to a single user.
With the FATS 180MIL, users feel they’re in the action, facing decision-making pressures while maintaining situational awareness.