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19 Jun 20. Seven RAN ships take to the seas as training resumes. Over the course of the past week, seven warships sailed from Navy’s Fleet Base East and Fleet Base West, hinting at a return to normal after coronavirus restrictions caused much of the ADF’s non-essential training to grind to a halt. The ships are tasked with testing newly-upgraded systems and exercise as part of a Maritime Task Group.
HMA Ships Canberra, Hobart and Stuart sailed from Fleet Base East in Sydney, while HMA Ships Anzac, Arunta, Ballarat and Sirius departed Fleet Base West in Western Australia.
All relevant training will take place off Australia’s east coast and northern waters, with Anzac undertaking sea qualification trials following her recent mid-life upgrade and Ballarat sailing to the east coast for unit readiness training. The remaining ships will sail in company for a period of Force Integrated Training, essential for Maritime Task Group operations.
The ships are heading to sea for training that will enable them to test their systems, conduct mariner and warfare training in areas such as ship handling, damage control, emergency drills, and task group warfare, according to Commodore Stephen Hughes, Commander Surface Force.
“This year has tested us in ways we would not have expected 12 months ago, but by putting multiple ships and more than 1,300 Navy people to sea from both sides of the country we are demonstrating we’re seaworthy, adaptive and operationally ready,” CDRE Hughes said.
“Some of these ships will deploy as a Task Group for Exercise RIMPAC 2020 off Hawaii incorporating high-end tactical exercises and working with partner nations.
“Anzac’s sailing is an important milestone as the newly upgraded Frigate completes her successful integration of new systems and capabilities, as part of a scheduled trials period.”
Acting Commanding Officer of Ballarat, Lieutenant Commander Michael Forsythe, said the Ship’s company were looking forward to returning to sea for high-end training and work-ups.
“We’ve spent the year so far in the west conducting Mariner Skills Evaluations and Sea Qualification Trials, so to sail out for some even more complex training to test us is welcome,” LCDR Forsythe said.
“Getting back to sea for longer periods, putting Ballarat through her paces and continuously refining our training is the best way for us to stay ready to fight and win at sea.” (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Jun 20. Marines Deploy to Norway for Exercise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic. Whether in the face of the enemy or a deadly global pandemic, the Marine Corps not only stays ahead of the curve, but also flattens it.
World War I showed the world the destruction and devastation that a man could do to another man, but the deaths caused by man paled in comparison to the destructive force that a simple virus can bring to the table. The 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic, which is known as one of the world’s deadliest pandemics, affected about a third of the world’s population at the time, and it resulted in the deaths of millions due, in part, to countries not following proper health protocols.
A century later, the Marine Corps has learned from the past, and the Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force deployed to Norway in May as part of Marine Rotational Force Europe 20.2, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, which focuses on cold-weather and mountain-warfare training and military-to military engagements to enhance interoperability with allies and partners.
“COVID-19 was certainly a challenge to readiness,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brian Donlon, the battalion commander of MRF-E. “It imposed conditions on the battalion’s ability to train that were new and challenging, but COVID did not erase the requirement to be ready to deploy, to be expeditionary, and be prepared to execute our mission-essential tasks.”
During the deployment process, the battalion mandated strict social distancing, hygiene protocol and mask donning, and Navy corpsmen continuously screened Marines and sailors for any symptoms of the virus. Once in Norway, a 14-day quarantine was executed.
“We treated quarantine a lot like being on ship, and when we were in quarantine, we did our prep for combat in the limited spaces available to us, and we created a battle rhythm that was essentially shipboard living,” Donlon added.
After a successful 14-day quarantine where the battalion saw zero COVID-19 cases, the Marines and sailors immediately transitioned into the annual interoperability exercise, Thunder Reindeer, located inside the Arctic Circle. The exercise included opportunities to practice live-fire and combined arms training, as well as air integration.
On the ground, the Marines found themselves setting up camp in snowy, rocky terrain, much different from the humid, swampland they were used to at their home station in North Carolina. In the morning, the Marines tactically integrated with the Norwegians to provide support by fire.
Marine scout snipers maneuvered through forests across mountainous terrain to practice stealthy link up procedures with their Norwegian counterparts without giving away their position.
“This shows the flexibility of each country and our ability to quickly integrate after coming out of quarantine,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Stephen Michaels, a scout sniper.
Marines also integrated with a Norwegian artillery battalion and learned how their NATO counterpart conducts a call for fire. The Norwegians were able to integrate air, land, and naval assets, including F-35 fighter jets, in a joint setting at the battalion level for the first time.
The Norwegian government announced its support for purchasing F-35s in 2008, and the first round of jets became operational in late 2019. According to Norway’s chief of defense, bringing the capability to communicate with the jets is still a work in progress for the different Norwegian army, navy and air force units.
During Thunder Reindeer, the Marines stepped in to assist with the progress by simulating air support in conjunction with Norway’s 2nd Army Battalion and Marine forward air controllers.
While out in northern Norway’s arctic climate and mountainous terrain, contact with participating F-35 jets was reached, a milestone previously unattained by the 2nd Battalion. As a result, troops on the ground received the simulated support needed.
“It’s a personal feat for the Norwegians as they continue to progress with that sort of technology and being able to use them not only as air assets, but air-to-ground,” said Marine Corps Capt. Sage Santangelo, a Marine forward air controller.
Lt. Col. Erling Nervik, the commander of Norway’s 2nd Battalion, said making contact and having air support was an important asset to bring into the training and that he was very satisfied with his experience with the Marines.
“We are in many ways like-minded, and we have been good allies for many years and working together with the USMC is always a pleasure,” Nervik said. “After being at Quantico in America for a year at the Command and Staff College, I know the Marines — know the attitude, the mentality. I’m looking forward to the cooperation between two good allies.”
The Marines are expected to operate in Norway until the fall, and they and the Norwegians plan to hold various exercises during that time for continued interoperability and arctic training. (Source: US DoD)
18 Jun 20. Royal Navy warships complete Baltic exercise. Royal Navy warships have wrapped up the largest military exercise of 2020 in European waters. Frigate HMS Kent and minehunter HMS Ramsey flew the flag for the Royal Navy, while RAF Typhoons stationed in Lithuania joined in the aerial element of NATO’s Baltops.
Crews of both ships say the two-week workout proved to be a supreme test – and makes them better prepared for global challenges, individually or working side-by-side with our allies.
More than two dozen vessels, led by the US Navy’s amphibious command ship Mount Whitney, a similar number of aircraft and upwards of 3,000 military personnel threw their hat in the ring for the 49th iteration of Baltops.
The exercise underlines the importance of the region to NATO – and demonstrates the ability and resolve of the alliance and partner nations to safeguard the freedom of nations on its shores, as well as keeping the sea lanes open.
Planners gave participants seven days to hone individual and collective skills, training side-by-side in numerous demanding scenarios (anti-submarine warfare, air attacks – including Banshee drones which bore down on Kent’s upper deck gunners – resupplying on the go, and combined manoeuvres), before a rather more free-flowing four-day-long tactical exercise.
“Baltops has certainly tested the mettle of my team and I am very pleased by the way they have risen to the challenge,” said Commander Matt Sykes, HMS Kent’s Commanding Officer.
“This has been a great opportunity to prove how quickly the Royal Navy can integrate with NATO and regional allies, whilst also providing reassurance to our partners in the Baltic Sea region.”
The Portsmouth-based frigate was assigned to the ‘Orange Forces’ from the fictional state of Bothnia – the enemy – in this year’s scenario, which meant her sailors had to approach Baltops with a different mind-set.
“Playing the bad guys for a change rather than ourselves has been good. It really forced us to look at how we normally do things, then doing something sneaky instead. It has been really busy, but I have definitely learned a lot,” said above water warfare specialist, 31-year-old Able Seaman Jonathan Mills.
Ramsey, meanwhile, has been involved in nine days of intensive minehunting alongside seven ships – plus two drones from the German Navy – especially close to the Danish and Swedish coasts.
The collective training has been on a much larger scale than the Faslane-based warship is used to, allowing the 40-strong ship’s company to take their training and expertise to the next level as they located – and ‘neutralised’ – practice mines in challenging conditions.
“It has been really interesting to see other nations conduct mine hunting operations and observe how they do it, especially the German Navy using autonomous drones during the exercise,” said mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Harry Streeter.
“The Royal Navy is already using – and accelerating the introduction of – new autonomous and remote systems into mine warfare, so to see how other nations employ similar technology has been great.”
Alongside the latest technology, more traditional methods of rendering mines were practised, with Ramsey’s clearance divers plunging into the depths; even in mid-June the water temperature in the Baltic only scrapes into the low teens Celsius.
“Baltops has offered mine countermeasures training on an impressive scale and has allowed Ramsey to develop her operational capability, as well as our understanding of how we can support and protect collective UK and NATO interests,” said Lieutenant Commander Joel Roberts, Ramsey’s Commanding Officer.
Ramsey is remaining in the Baltic with a NATO minewarfare group while Kent is concentrating on training around the UK and in the North Atlantic, before a well-deserved period of maintenance and leave in her home port of Portsmouth over the summer.
14 Jun 20. Russian tankers and Orlan-10 UAV conduct exercise in Tajikistan. Russia’s 201st military base tankers have participated in a one-day training exercise in partnership with the crews of Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The exercise allowed them to practice destroying a mock enemy. It was conducted at the Lyaur training ground in the mountains of Tajikistan. During the drill, crews of the UAVs performed an aerial reconnaissance of the area. The UAVs discovered masked targets and communicated the information to the command post.
Following this, the Russian T-72 tank crews begin the attack on the enemy objects.
Located at a distance of 500m to 2,000m, the enemy objects were destroyed by the tankers using 125mm guns.
It also saw the employment of flank shooting, gun firing and machine gun at emerging and moving targets.
Using small arms and AGS-17 grenade launchers, the enemy forces were destroyed by motorised rifle units attached to the tankers.
All the while, UAV specialists helped the tank gunners by transmitting the targets’ coordinates.
Russian land and airforces combined their capabilities to destroy the enemy manpower.
The exercise involved about 500 military personnel and more than 80 pieces of military equipment.
Stationed in Tajikistan, the 201st military base is Russia’s largest military facility outside its borders and is located in two cities of Dushanbe and Bokhtar. In October 2012, an agreement was reached to allow the base to remain stationed in Tajikistan until 2042. (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Jun 20. Nato introduces new curriculum to improve counter-terrorism strategies. Nato has introduced a new curriculum to help allies and partner nations improve their counter-terrorism strategies.
Known as Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum (CTRC), it provides an outline of terrorist ideologies, motivations and methods based on historical examples.
The CTRC also offers an overview of current counter-terrorism practices and possible future projections.
Allies and partners can benefit from the curriculum by including it in their existing courses.
The curriculum will also serve as a reference document to respond to the needs of partner nation defence educational institution.
Nato Emerging Security Challenges assistant secretary-general Dr Antonio Missiroli said: “Security challenges like terrorism are not diminishing because of the global pandemic.
“Terrorism undermines our safety and the very values that underpin and inspire our societies.
“The alliance is committed to address this threat with all available means. Supporting improved awareness, strengthening resilience and building counter-terrorism capacity of both allies and partners are all part of this effort, and the CTRC perfectly fits these objectives.”
It has been developed in partnership between the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP), Nato’s Counter-Terrorism Section and the Partnership for Peace Consortium.
More than 100 experts from countries, including Tunisia, Jordan and Mauritania have contributed to the curriculum.
Nato Operations assistant secretary-general Dr John Manza said: “The CTRC will be available to all interested partners and Allies.
“DEEP will work diligently to help partners who request support in implementing tailored versions of the curriculum for their professional military education institutions.
“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and reflecting other longer-term trends, Nato will also work to implement the CRTC as a distance course, available to all partners who wish to use it in their institutions.” (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Jun 20. For the first time, Cyber Command’s major exercise will use new training platform. U.S. Cyber Command’s annual training exercise will rely entirely on a new platform this year, a move that will allow most participants to compete remotely.
This year’s Cyber Flag exercise, which began June 15, will use the Persistent Cyber Training Environment, which has been described as one of the Department of Defense’s most critical projects.
“We are actually getting ready to do Cyber Flag … in PCTE for the first time at a geographically dispersed event,” Col. Tanya Trout, Cyber Command’s PCTE director, said during a webcast hosted by SANS June 5.
PCTE is an online client that allows Cyber Command’s cyber warriors to log on from anywhere in the world to conduct individual or collective cyber training as well as mission rehearsal. In the physical world, military forces regularly go to a training facility such as the National Training Center at Fort Irwin to work on particular concepts or rehearse before deploying. But a robust environment has not existed for DoD’s cyber warriors, creating readiness gaps.
The program is run by the Army on behalf of the joint cyber force.
Cyber Flag is Cyber Command’s major annual training event. For the past several years, it has been hosted at the Joint Staff facility in Suffolk, Virginia. This year’s event, the largest to date, is taking place from June 15-26 and will include DoD, intergovernmental and international partners. Participants typically travel to the facility to participate in the event, though some portions in the past have been remote.
“USCYBERCOM is leading the way in maintaining readiness during a global pandemic — we are meeting operational training requirements, and are prepared to operate and train in this new environment,” a Cyber Command spokesperson told Fifth Domain.
With few exceptions, the entire Cyber Flag exercise will be conducted remotely across several geographic regions, but operationally the exercise will be similar to others, officials said. This means teams will continue to conduct defensive missions on traditional networks and ICS networks against a live opponent.
This marks a milestone for the program as it has scaled from single one-off events to large Tier-1 exercise. Additionally, Cyber Flag will help the PCTE program office take lessons learned for future such events.
Despite the ongoing global pandemic that has caused major disruptions, Cyber Flag leaders had always planned to use the PCTE platform this year, officials said. With units geographically dispersed, they must be able to train as they fight: together.
The platform in the future will allow forces to choose training events from a pre-loaded Netflix-like menu, officials have said, but will also include ongoing tweaks to account for changes in a dynamic environment.
An agile platform
The PCTE program has been running an agile process from its inception, which is atypical of the acquisition process. Officials have leveraged small contracts to date and a set of one off “cyber innovation challenges” to incrementally add capability.
During this process, they also have worked with the user community – the active duty cyber warriors – turning to cyber training events to test and stress the platform while gaining feedback to improve the platform.
The platform is still in the prototyping phase currently. The Army is in the process of awarding a vendor for the final program under what is called Cyber Training, Readiness, Integration, Delivery and Enterprise Technology (TRIDENT), a contract vehicle to offer a more streamlined approach for procuring the military’s cyber training capabilities.
The Army released the request for proposal of the contract June 11.
Cyber Command has also now created something called the Joint Cyber Training Enterprise, which Trout leads as the acting director. She said earlier in June that it reached initial operational capability in February and is the non-material companion to the PCTE platform. It seeks to operate and synchronize training hosted by PCTE for the joint force. (Source: Fifth Domain)
15 Jun 20. IT2EC 2020 UPDATE. As a consequence of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic Clarion Events’ International Training Technology Exhibition and Conference (IT2EC) scheduled for September at ExCeL London will no longer take place in 2020. This is principally due to the continuing prohibitions and advisories against international travel put into effect by governments around the world and the introduction of COVID-19 government regulations and public health directives. The next edition of IT2EC will be staged 25-27 May 2021 at Fibes, Seville, Spain.
As Europe’s primary event for the military training and simulation sector, IT2EC is truly global in its make-up, with more than 100 speakers, 80% of exhibitors and two-thirds of visitors based outside the host nation. With such an international audience, the restrictions – which in the UK include a 14-day quarantine – present extremely significant challenges for majority of the IT2EC audience in planning their attendance at this year’s event.
The decision has been made following consultation with key event stakeholders, including the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) not to stage IT²EC in 2020.
Efforts are now focused on bringing the international training and simulation community back together at IT2EC 2021. Next year’s event is scheduled to take place on 25-27 May in Seville, the first time Spain has hosted the event with IT2EC set to return to London in 2022.
Tracy Bebbington, Event Director, IT2EC, Clarion Events Defence and Security said: “While the decision not to hold IT2EC this year is disappointing for us as organisers and for the community we serve, it is a result of factors beyond our control.
Clarion Events is one of the largest exhibition organisers in the world and holds the safety of all event attendees as its highest priority. As such the company is looking ahead to how physical distancing measures can be incorporated into the planning of all our events in the future and is contributing to broader government and event industry initiatives to support this.”
Explaining why Seville has been chosen to host IT2EC in 2021, Rear Adm. (retd.) Simon Williams, Chairman, Clarion Events Defence and Security said: “With its well-established defence industry and strong trading links to Latin America, Asia, and Europe, Spain is an exciting new venture for IT2EC. Seville is home to one of the country’s major military training centres, while Airbus Defence and Space also has its International Training facility in the city.
“This is where nations using the A400M, A330 MRTT, CN-235, and C-295 aircraft can fly the Full Flight Simulator of their respective aircraft. This list includes users from the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Luxembourg, Belgium, Malaysia, Australia, UAE, Singapore, and NATO, who all see Seville as a hub for training. This easily-reached location will give our exhibitors access to military customers from a range of new global markets.”
In the meantime, IT2EC has introduced several digital initiatives to support customers, including an ongoing webinar series and unrestricted access to historic conference materials.
Further details of these UK border measures are available on the GOV.UK website.
12 Jun 20. The iMAST Alliance, a collaboration of three leading UK Maritime defence companies Babcock, QinetiQ and Thales together with technology partners Centerprise International, Learning Technologies Group and academic Institutions, University of Portsmouth and University of Strathclyde, has recently signed an Alliance Agreement, bringing together their deep and collective strength of capabilities to deliver a training transformation solution that they believe will modernise and transform Royal Navy training.
The Alliance is further boosted by an Ecosystem of more than 50 niche enterprises, who will seek and explore innovation in learning technologies, delivering opportunities and benefits across the UK supply chain.
The contract will be awarded following a competitive tendering process run by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and will see the successful bidder partner with their customer to transform Royal Navy training. Down selected to bid in 2019, the iMAST team is finalising its approach with final tender submissions due in summer 2020.
The iMAST vision is simple – working in true partnership with the customer to transform and modernise Royal Navy training in innovative ways that will deliver more, better trained Royal Navy people to the front line quicker.
iMAST lead contractor, Babcock, is currently responsible for around 70% of the outsourced Royal Navy training programme and this new collaborative Alliance squarely underpins its ongoing commitment to the Strategic Partner Programme with the MOD and Cabinet Office, which means iMAST is in an excellent position to provide a solid surety of delivery throughout the transformation period.
Mark Graves Managing Director of iMAST Alliance: “iMAST’s approach is focussed on building on our unique and deep affinity with Royal Navy Training and consolidates the capabilities of a game-changing Alliance that can deliver cutting-edge, flexible and accessible technology to truly modernise the training experience of RN people and ensure they reach the front line quicker and equipped with the skills and competence they need.
“Across our joint team we have strong and collaborative relationships with the armed forces, built over decades and share many of the same values and behaviours, often working as one team to a single joint plan. Therefore, iMAST represents the lowest risk, high reward solution to transition – delivered at pace.”
In addition to the provision of training, the winning bidder will also be responsible for designing, procuring and managing the maintenance and repair of all associated training equipment. This includes support for the delivery and procurement of the interior design, fit out and relocation to a new purpose built facility for submarine training based on the Clyde, helping to create a submarine centre of excellence.
iMAST is committed to the future of Royal Navy training – and is ready for the challenge.
10 Jun 20. RNZAF helicopters participate in Exercise Steel Talon. The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopters are participating in a military training exercise across the Central North Island.
Called Exercise Steel Talon, the training drill is a major tactical flying exercise that helps maintain the capability of the forces and assets to operate when deployed overseas.
Conducted over the next two weeks, RNZAF Base Ohakea No 3 Squadron will work with New Zealand (NZ) Army units during the exercise.
The exercise will test tactical flying capability, gunnery skills, air lift and transport tasks of the squadron.
During the exercise, three NH90s helicopters will carry three underslung L105 Howitzer guns from an airfield in Hunterville to Waiouru Military Training Area.
Additionally, NZ Army receives operational and training support, air transport, special operations and aeromedical evacuation from No 3 Squadron, as well as helicopters and conversion training for pilots and aircrew.
No 3 Squadron also carries out search and rescue missions. It provides support to NZ Police and other government agencies. RNZAF commanding officer of No 3 Squadron Wing commander Christopher Andrew said: “Exercise Steel Talon gives the opportunity to hone skills that will be required in deployed operations.
“Being able to train in various environments is vital to replicate real-life scenarios.”
It is scheduled to conclude on 19 June.
Last month, the NZ Government approved a deal for the upgrade of critical infrastructure at RNZAF Base Ohakea.
Under the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme, the first phase of the NZD206m ($125m) deal work will commence later this year. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
Meggitt introduces the next generation of immersive training — the FATS® 180MIL.
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- 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.