Qioptiq logo


Sponsored by Meggitt Training Systems


HOME front


25 Jun 20. This training tool could be the answer to stop mass cyberattacks. At air bases across Europe, networks are under attack. Malicious hackers have gained access to sensitive systems, information, controls and critical infrastructure. But cyber operators from U.S. Cyber Command, in concert with Five Eyes partners, have been called in to thwart these attempts in real time.

This was the main scenario for this year’s capstone cyber training exercise put on by Cyber Command, Cyber Flag 20-2.

The exercise, which took place June 15-26 and was exclusively defensive in nature, saw more than 500 participants and 17 teams participating from five countries across nine time zones, and it included America’s National Guard, the U.S. Energy Department and the Five Eyes alliance — Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. Australia, however, did not participate during this iteration.

Officials told reporters this week that the purpose of Cyber Flag 20-2 was to continue building the community of defensive cyber operations and to improve the overall capability of the Five Eyes countries to defend against cyber aggressors.

The drill involved teams defending IT and operational security networks against a live, opposing force trying to disrupt, deny and degrade the air bases’ operations. The networks under attack were industrial control systems simulated to generate network traffic for an aviation fuel farm, power grid, air traffic control radars and electronic access control systems. The attacks came in the form of malware that targeted devices responsible for fuel and power.

But the unique aspect of this year’s exercise, as C4ISRNET previously reported, was the use of a new remote cyber training tool called the Persistent Cyber Training Environment.

PCTE is an online client that allows Cyber Command’s cyber warriors, as well as partner nations, to log on from anywhere in the world to conduct individual or collective cyber training as well as mission rehearsal, which to date had not existed for the cyber force as it does for physical troops.

The program is run by the Army on behalf of the joint cyber force. The platform not only allowed the exercise to continue as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it enabled collaboration and simultaneous training across the world.

A new way to train

Officials say PCTE is providing Cyber Command with an entirely new way to train cyber forces, which previously was difficult given a lack of infrastructure and the time needed to set up ranges and scenarios.

It also allows Cyber Command and military units to conduct more frequent training. Cyber Flag typically was Cyber Command’s largest and only holistic tactical training event, held annually during June. For units, aside from Cyber Flag, there were no other ways to stay sharp on their skills unless they built their own environments.

Now, Cyber Command plans to hold more exercises, with Cyber Flag 20-3 occurring in the fall.

“The delivery of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment absolutely allows us to increase the frequency and the complexity of exercises that are conducted by the command itself,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, director of exercises and training at Cyber Command, told reporters. “Going forward, I would expect you to see a series of exercises throughout the year where we are reaching out to the different teams to test their capabilities or to focus on specific issues that are of concern or interest to us.

“Going forward, we’re going to get the benefits of both those distributed exercises along with increasingly complex exercises as PCTE is instantiated across both the secret network and the top-secret network.”

Scenarios and environments can be stored, saved, reused and modified if needed in the system for later exercises. Smaller units will also be able to leverage these scenarios to practice whenever needed.

The PCTE virtual environment for this year’s exercise included 25 interconnected ranges of more than 3,000 virtual machines — a high-fidelity network that simulated and emulated open internet traffic with more than 4,000 static websites that store and share data.

The simulated air base networks created in PCTE had fully configured Windows active directory domains with over 100 nodes running more than 10 types of major operating systems, along with 35 simulated user control workstations actively surfing the internet and using Microsoft Office products to access, create and transfer files.

Moreover, officials also explained PCTE can be integrated into larger, multi-combatant command-type exercises to simulate the cyber effects, such as Global Lightning and its companion Cyber Lightning.

Global Lightning is an annual global exercise run by Strategic Command to test integration across several geographic and functional combatant commands. Cyber Lightning is Cyber Command’s portion to the exercise.

“We think that is the next evolution of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment and how we take to the tier 1 exercises, incorporate cyber effects. They’re no longer white-carded,” Col. Tanya Trout, Cyber Command’s PCTE director and acting director of the Joint Cyber Training Enterprise, told reporters.

White carding involves telling exercise participants that a certain action has occurred. This was typical of cyber effects, given it was difficult to realistically simulate them, which diminished the training value in exercises because participants didn’t experience the full breadth of these actions.

Now, these activities can play a real role in exercises increasing the overall fidelity of training across the joint force and continuity of all operations of warfare.

The system will also be able to be used for mission rehearsals. A Cyber Command official said the force can input prior operations, such as those used against the Islamic State group, to train against. Additionally, they’ll be able to upload to the platform malware discovered in operations.

The PCTE program office, which is in the prototyping phase despite delivering the first portion to Cyber Command in February 2020, also learned valuable lessons in Cyber Flag. Officials said the two-week exercise provided the program office with six months’ worth of data it can use to make significant improvements.

Prior to the February delivery, the program office leveraged several smaller-scale training events at the unit level to incrementally increase capabilities and scalability as well as help geographically dispersed teams prepare for tier 1 exercises like Cyber Flag.

Overall, officials are happy with how the system performed in its first tier 1 exercise, pointing to little to no latency issues, though there were periodic improvement tickets.

“What we found through the rapid development and use of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment is that we really have a unique capability to move forward with,” Mauger said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

25 Jun 20. US Air Force considers leasing trainer jets that lost the T-X competition. The U.S. Air Force wants to lease advanced trainers as early as next summer while it waits for Boeing’s T-7 Red Hawk, creating an opportunity for the two training jets that lost out to the Red Hawk during the T-X competition.

The Air Force intends to open a competition for trainer jets that would help it test out a new training concept called “Rebuilding the Forge,” or “Reforge,” said Air Combat Command head Gen. Mike Holmes on June 22. The concept is meant to speed up the time it takes to produce an experienced pilot.

The service initially intended to lease T-50 jets — originally made by Korea Aerospace Industries — from Hillwood Aviation, according to a sources-sought solicitation released in January. But since then, other companies have expressed a desire to bid on the opportunity, called RFX, and Holmes confirmed that the Air Force plans to allow outside firms to propose alternative options.

“In our initial market research, there was some thought that there might be only one airplane there was going to be bid against it. But as we did more market research, we found out that there were multiple people that wanted to bid, and they were going to bid with a couple of different airplanes at least,” Holmes told reporters during an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

“Certainly competition is in our interest, so we want to have that competition to see who can come in and at an affordable cost. And frankly, our budgets are tight,” he added.

The goal of Reforge, Holmes said, is to produce experienced fighter pilots without having to put operators through the “basic course” currently required by any student who has never flown a fighter.

“We proposed to lease some airplanes while we’re waiting on the T-7 to arrive and do some experiments along with AETC [Air Education and Training Command] to try to figure out what’s the best use of this new T-7 that we’re going to buy,” Holmes said. “We think taking advantage of the capabilities of that new trainer along with the [virtual] training systems that AETC has previewed and premiered give us a great opportunity to meet the requirements of the [pilot] shortage that we have in the fastest, best way.”

Holmes added that if no single company comes in with an affordable proposal, the Air Force may back away from the leasing idea.

The service is still refining the specifics of its leasing strategy, but Holmes said the hope is to lease upward of 11 planes starting in the summer of 2021. The original solicitation stated that it could lease anywhere from four to eight trainers to provide approximately 4,500 flight hours annually for about five years.

Opening up RFX could make way for the third entrant in the T-X competition — Italian defense company Leonardo’s M346 Master — to butt heads against the T-50 once again. In March, Texas-based aviation company Mission Support Systems told Aviation Week that it hoped to propose a version of the M-346 that would, within a year, be integrated with a radar from Leonardo’s GRIFO radar series. However, Air Combat Command expressed a preference for the T-50, which already is equipped with a radar.

If the Reforge concept proves successful, the Air Force may find itself with a requirement in excess of the 351 jets that are planned to be procured in the T-7 Red Hawk program of record. Those T-7s may have different specifications than the Red Hawks used for undergraduate pilot training and could end up becoming a separate variant of the aircraft, Air Force Magazine reported.

Holmes said that while the T-7 is “a great airplane,” it’s possible for Boeing and its partner, Swedish defense firm Saab, to accelerate the program quickly enough to use the Red Hawk for the Reforge proof of concept.

“It’s several years away from us getting their hands on it,” he said. “Boeing and Saab are working through the shift from their prototypes to the operational airplane. They will tell you that they were pretty darn close in their prototypes to an operational airplane. … I agree, but it still takes some time to work through the issues and turn that into an operational platform. (Source: Defense News)

25 Jun 20. US Navy’s BATARG conducts live-fire training exercise in Albania. The US Navy’s Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) has conducted a live-fire training exercise in Bize, Albania.

The forces carried out aviation ordnance-delivery training alongside Albanian troops to further bolster operational readiness and strengthen partnership.

The training exercise featured the US Marine Corp’s UH-1Y Venoms and AH-1W Super Cobras helicopters, which were assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Amphibious Squadron 8 commodore captain Lance Lesher said: “The BATARG and 26th MEU are excited about the opportunity to build on the live-fire exercise conducted by the US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Det 1, with our Albanian partners less than two months ago.

“This important training, this time with 26th MEU aircraft, continues to reinforce familiarity and interoperability with our Albanian partners, reaffirming our commitment to not only this enduring relationship, but security and stability across the region.”

Venoms and Super Cobra helicopters, referred as H-1s, support the transportation of marines, casualty evacuation, and close-air support.

The training is expected to increase the capabilities of UH-1Y Venom and AH-1W Super Cobra pilots in carrying out live-fire tactical manoeuvring in mountainous terrain.

AH-1W Super Cobra pilot captain Casey Low said: “This training evolution was a great opportunity for our H-1 crews to integrate with a Nato ally through extensive coordination and combined planning, all while physically distributed from our Albanian counterparts aboard our sea-based platform.

“The evolution tested and demonstrated our ability to project power ashore, utilising air-delivered fires from the MEU’s Aviation Combat Element to support combined Nato forces.”

BATARG and 26th MEU comprises around 4,000 sailors and marines from the US 6th Fleet area of operations. (Source: naval-technology.com)

25 Jun 20. Northrop Grumman supports Nato RQ-4D Phoenix training.  Northrop Grumman has supported the Nato Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) to achieve a milestone in the system level performance verification. Under the control of NAGSF trained pilots, a nine-hour training and test flight was successfully conducted for the first time.

The Nato AGS RQ-4D aircraft is based on the US Air Force (USAF) wide area surveillance Global Hawk.

The aircraft has been adapted to Nato requirements to provide advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

It will further protect ground troops, civilian populations and international borders during peacetime, in times of conflict, during natural disasters and humanitarian missions.

The NAGSF system comprises a group of 15 allies, which have collectively acquired five Nato RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft and the associated European-sourced ground command and control stations.

Nato operates and maintains the aircraft on behalf of all Nato allies.

Northrop Grumman autonomous systems vice-president and general manager Jane Bishop said: “Northrop Grumman is proud to support NAGSF pilots training as they control flights with number one Nato RQ-4D Phoenix.

“We remain committed in our relationship to Nato and the mission to protect and defend global security.”

Earlier this month, Northrop Grumman won a $151.3m order for large aircraft infrared countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems and support. Under the award, the company will deliver infrared countermeasure systems to the USAF. The LAIRCM system is used to defend aircrews by detecting, tracking and jamming incoming infrared threats.

By directing a high-intensity laser beam into the missile seeker, the system has the capability to automatically counter advanced infrared missile systems. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

24 Jun 20. USS Porter conducts exercise with Tunisian Navy in Mediterranean Sea. US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) has conducted a passing exercise with Tunisian naval counterparts in the Mediterranean Sea. As part of the exercise, Tunisian vessels OPV Jugurtha 610 and FPB Hamilcar 505 participated in tactical formation sailing. They also simulated replenishments-at-sea.

USS Porter recently participated in operations with partner nations in European seas.

Some of the operations conducted in April included at-sea training with the Romanian Navy in the Black Sea, as well as joint interoperability exercises with the Italian and French navies in the Mediterranean Sea.

In May, the vessel operated as part of a Surface Action Group with the Royal Navy in the High North and Barents Sea.

Forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, USS Porter is engaged in naval operations in the US 6th Fleet area of operations to support US national security interests in Europe and Africa.

Headquartered in Italy, the US 6th Fleet conducts operations with allied and interagency partners.

USS Porter commanding officer Commander Craig Trent said: “Porter is honoured to have this opportunity to train alongside our North African partners, as it enhances our tactical proficiency and collective capabilities.

“It’s important to maintain relationships with regional partners and allies to ensure the security and stability of the European and African theatres.”

The US Navy regularly conducts training with allies and partners to increase its capacity and capability and strengthen regional ties.

Separately, two US Navy aircraft carriers launched dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea.

The exercise, involving USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) strike groups, aims to assert the US Navy’s capabilities to operate multiple carrier strike groups in close proximity. (Source: naval-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. 11 Nato members join forces for pilot training programme. A total of 11 Nato members have joined forces to create a pilot training network across the European continent.

The initiative comprises Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, Greece, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey.

The Defence Ministers of these countries have signed a letter of intent (LoI) to establish the Nato Flight Training Europe (NFTE) initiative.

As agreed, the 11 nations will now explore the options in setting up a network of training facilities for fighter jet, helicopter and drone pilots. The initiative will also leverage existing training infrastructure in participating nations.

In a statement, Nato said: “Several smaller European Allies have annual pilot training requirements at a scale that does not justify the establishment or continuation of national flight centres.

“The multinational NFTE initiative will address the requirements of these nations.”

Additionally, the step is expected to reduce training costs as well as increase interoperability among participating forces.

Nato deputy secretary-general Mircea Geoan? said: “This multinational cooperation will increase European training facilities and enable air-crews to train closer to home.

“As such, it serves as an excellent example of transatlantic burden sharing.”

Nato is an intergovernmental military alliance, which includes 30 North American and European countries.

Last month, Nato agreed to increase Covid-19 testing capacity in Afghanistan. The move involved delivering an additional GeneXpert 16 Covid-19 testing laboratory, along with three technicians.

Nato troops also took part in a training programme with the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and Spanish Air Force last month. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

22 Jun 20. Airbus to upgrade training capabilities of German Eurofighter pilots. Airbus, acting as the main contractor within the industrial Pilot Synthetic Training System (PSTS) consortium, has been awarded two contracts to extend the Eurofighter PSTS at the Main Operating Base (MOB) in Laage and introduce state-of-the-art simulator cockpits at all Eurofighter MOBs in Germany.

The first contract includes the upgrade of existing Full Mission Simulators (FMS) and Cockpit Trainers (CT) in Laage and the provision of two additional FMS according to the new standard, extending the training capability from two to four simulators. This will enable the German Air Force to perform four-ship training at a single location and multi-ship training at distributed networked locations. Due to the new design of the Visual Display Systems, the building can accommodate the four FMS within the existing simulator halls without major infrastructure adaptions.

The second contract includes the replacement of 10 cockpits in the FMS and CT at all the German Eurofighter bases in Neuburg, Laage, Wittmund, Nörvenich and the Central Integration Facility at Airbus Manching.

With the introduction of modern cockpit replicas within the PSTS, a major sub-system of all Eurofighter simulators will be renewed to guarantee best performance of the pilot’s working place for the next decade. All PSTS cockpits for the German MOBs will be equipped with a full suite of cockpit displays and control panels including a newly developed facsimile head-up-display. It will also comprise a G-seat motion cueing system, an anti-G inflation system as well as a breathing air system, all controlled by a cockpit linkage system developed by Airbus. The entire cockpit will be night vision goggle compatible.

The FMS will be equipped with a state-of-the-art LED projection system, which provides a high-resolution out-the-window view for pilots, regardless of the time, day and weather conditions in which the training takes place. Furthermore, by introducing a common concept for computer racks, power supplies and emergency equipment throughout all devices, a baseline for future upgrades of the remaining German MOBs has been created.

The PSTS consortium is the result of a collaboration agreement between the German and Spanish Ministries of Defence and is composed of three partners: Airbus Defence and Space, Indra and CAE, where Airbus is the main contractor. The development of the PSTS is intrinsically linked to the improvements with which the Eurofighter’s capabilities and performance have been reinforced, emphasizing those related to electronic defence systems, state-of-the-art avionics and the new CAPTOR-E radar.

22 Jun 20. Taiwan boosts domestic defence development plan with new jet. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen oversaw the first public test flight of a new locally designed and made advanced jet trainer on Monday, part of her government’s plan to boost defences in the face of a growing challenge from China.

Taiwan’s armed forces are mostly equipped by the United States, but Tsai has made development of an advanced home-grown defence industry a priority, especially as China, which claims the island as its own, steps up military modernisation efforts.

The new AT-5 Brave Eagle, made by state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp with a buddget of T$68.6bn ($2.32bn), is the first jet made domestically since the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo fighter, rolled out more than three decades ago.

Speaking at an air base in the central city of Taichung, Tsai said the new aircraft disproved naysayers who thought Taiwan lacked the technology and should focus on meeting its defence needs from abroad.

“The new trainer aircraft not only has created more than 2,000 job opportunities, but will also pass on experiences and cultivate a new generation of aerospace industry technical talent,” she said.

The single AT-5, flanked by a Ching-kuo fighter, made a 12-minute flight in front of Tsai. Its first official test flight was earlier this month, less than a year after the prototype was unveiled.

The trainer can be equipped with weapons. Taiwan’s air force plans on taking 66 units by 2026 to replace aging AT-3 and F-5 training aircraft.

The test flight came amid a stepped-up Chinese military presence near the democratic island. Taiwan says China’s air force has flown near it at least seven times in the last two weeks, the latest on Sunday.

Taiwan unveiled its largest defence spending increase in more than a decade last year, and the government is also developing new, domestically-made submarines. (Source: Reuters)

19 Jun 20. Blue Ridge Conducts Submarine Familiarization With USS Asheville. USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) participated in a submarine familiarization (SUBFAM) training with the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758) June 14. The SUBFAM gave the crew of Blue Ridge the chance to observe and operate with a submarine.

“The purpose of this training is to familiarize the crew of Blue Ridge with what a submarine looks like while at periscope depth,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gore, the 7th Fleet submarine operations officer. “We’ve been given the opportunity to observe a submarine in a covert posture.”

Blue Ridge’s watchstanders use robust integrated tools to routinely receive, analyze and interpret data from all over the world to form a complete tactical picture of air, surface and subsurface contacts but due to the nature of its mission, watchfully operating with a submarine doesn’t often happen.

“This is an opportunity for our watchstanders to become familiar with what they might see if there really was a submarine out there,” said Capt. Craig Sicola, Blue Ridge’s commanding officer. “Blue Ridge is among the most technologically advanced ships in the world, and we welcomed the opportunity to flex our capabilities and practice integrated training with fellow Sailors from another warfare specialty.”

The exercise allowed Blue Ridge watchstanders to use these extensive command and control capabilities to recognize the signature of a submerged submarine and see how it tracks a subsurface contact.

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jeremiah Ramos, a combat information center watchstander, had his first experience tracking a submarine. “This training exercise has increased our watch standers’ level of knowledge and readiness when it comes to a situation of encountering a submarine,” he said.

USS Asheville’s commanding officer also explained why this type of training is important.

“Supporting the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship was a unique opportunity for my crew to operate with our surface brothers and sisters, expand warfighting capability, and contribute to great integration of submarines with other platforms,” said Cmdr. Thomas Bullock, USS Asheville commanding officer. “Training scenarios like this are critical in our effort to improve readiness, increase lethality for our Forward Deployed Naval Forces warriors operating across all domains, and prepare for the high-end fight.”

Asheville, “The Ghost of the Coast,” is one of four Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines assigned to commander, Submarine Squadron (CSS) 15, which is headquartred at Naval Base Guam. CSS-15 staff, submarines and submarine tenders in Guam are the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed submarine force in the Pacific ready to meet global operations.

Blue Ridge is forward-deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. As the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, Blue Ridge actively works to foster relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: ASD Network)


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.


Back to article list