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26 Aug 20. DOD Seeks Reform in Delivering Improved Training, Education. Defense Department leaders in the fields of training and education discussed reform efforts the department is pursuing to more effectively and efficiently deliver various types of learning to its uniformed and civilian personnel.
Fred Drummond, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training; Lora Muchmore, director of the Defense Business Systems Directorate, Office of the Chief Management Officer; Jim Seacord, acting director of the Human Capital Management Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and, Amy Rogers, chief learning officer for the civilian workforce, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, spoke today at a National Training and Simulation Association webinar on “Transforming DOD’s Learning Infrastructure.”
Muchmore said that the most critical element in designing a training or education system is to first determine the desired outcome and how that outcome contributes to the mission and readiness of the department.
Once the outcome is determined, the next step is to determine which training or education delivery system is most effective at achieving the desired performance metrics, she said, adding that the performance metrics have to be operationally defined.
However, effectiveness has to be balanced with training time and investment of dollars in learning technologies, so there’s a trade-space involved in the process.
Other factors to consider besides learning technologies are the development of common languages and data standards across the department, ease of access and availability of learning systems, workforce culture and policies, Muchmore said.
Seacord said the culture shift has to involve everyone thinking about the DOD mission and how what they’re doing can further that mission. A soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, civilian and contractor are all on one team and it takes an open mind to break out of the traditional parochialism mindset.
Rogers said many department personnel are not aware of the training and developmental opportunities that are available to them that would further develop a skilled and ready workforce.
Training and education opportunities should reflect competencies needed not just for the current mission but for the future missions, she said.
A good idea is to collaborate and borrow from training and education that has proven effective and innovative, Rogers said. It should not be us versus them attitude.
Drummond emphasized the interoperability of training and education systems across all organizations within the department. He said they must all share the same languages and data standards so that interoperability is seamless.
Drummond, Rogers, Seacord and Muchmore are all members of the executive steering committee for the department’s training and education reform effort, known as Enterprise Digital Learning Modernization. (Source: US DoD)
26 Aug 20. Argentina’s FAdeA resumes IA-100 trainer programme. Argentine state aircraft factory FAdeA has resumed its IA-100B basic trainer programme with the signing on 24 August of an agreement with the Financial Aid Institute of the Armed Forces to finance the project.
The IA-100B programme was initiated in 2015 with a technology demonstrator, but came to a halt a year later.
A schematic of FAdeA’s IA-100 trainer, which is the factory’s first programme to reach the prototype stage since the IA-63 Pampa was developed in the 1980s. (FAdeA)
The aircraft, which originally had a two-seat, side-by-side configuration, has now evolved into a three-seat configuration (two in the front row and one in the rear) with a complete redesign of the cabin and other sections.
The restart of the project follows the Argentine Air Force issuing this May an operational requirement for a basic trainer to cover the training stages between the Tecnam P2006 and the AT-6C Texan II training aircraft: a part of the pilot training regime currently performed using flying hours rented from FAdeA-owned Grob 120TPs.
FAdeA expects to take up to 26 months for certification of the IA-100B, with a development cost of around USD4.5m.(Source: Jane’s)
26 Aug 20. USMC to construct new facility to simulate operating environments. The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is set to construct a new wargaming centre to visualise threats, increase competitive advantage, and simulate future operating environments.
Construction of the Wargaming and Analysis Center is expected to commence in the next fiscal year. Its design aims to use modern simulation technology to boost the wargaming experience for marines.
Upon completion, the facility will enable well-equipped and well-trained marines, in addition to improved decision-making on the battlefield.
It is spread over an area of 100,000ft² and located at a Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.
USMC’s new facility will host more than 12 dozen war games annually, including two large-scale exercises for 250 people. The simulation will provide a realistic interpretation of the future operating environment.
The wargaming centre, after establishment, will feature auditoriums, game rooms, conference rooms, and other spaces to wargaming needs.
Marine Corps Systems Command is collaborating with CD&I, MCWL and industry to construct the facility and obtain the necessary capabilities.
The capabilities of the centre will allow users to identify problems, consider goals, define scope, and analyse problems.
The wargames will offer data and analysis to help make decisions that impact force development, force management, system functions, and service functions.
USMC Combat Development and Integration deputy commandant Lt Gen Eric Smith said: “In order to stay ahead of peer competitors, it is vital that the Marine Corps conduct constant wargames.
“The data that comes from such wargames enables us to more rapidly determine which capabilities we will need for future fights.
“A wargaming center at Quantico ensures that these wargames take place at the home of Combat Development, the Warfighting Laboratory, Marine Corps University and our Acquisitions Command, and ensures that this purpose-built facility is easily accessible for all those in the National Capitol Region who similarly need this capability.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
24 Aug 20. Nato AWACS aircraft participates in Aviation Detachment Rotation 20-4. The binational training event is carried out between the airforces of the US and Poland to maintain joint readiness and enhance interoperability capabilities. The AWACS aircraft will remain deployed to Krakow from 21-28 August.
During the deployment, the AWACS crew will collaborate with the Polish Control and Reporting Center and aid the Polish and US fighter jets by offering exercise air command and control.
Aviation Detachment Rotation 20-4 exercise consists of flights over allied territory under Nato’s Assurance Measures.
The measures were implemented in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. They are intended to confirm Nato’s commitment to the eastern members of the alliance and to prevent any hostility against Nato members.
Established at Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany, the fleet of 14 AWACS aircraft of Nato carry out different operations. The aircraft also supports the Global Coalition to overthrow ISIS and the Operation Sea Guardian.
Earlier this month, US airmen and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft arrived in Poland to take part in the bilateral training during Aviation Detachment Rotation 20-4. Last month, Nato’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force received the fourth RQ-4D Phoenix remotely piloted aircraft at the Italian Air Force Base (AFB) in Sigonella. British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lithuania-based Typhoon fighter aircraft were launched for the fifth time to conduct a routine Nato Air Policing mission. In November last year, Nato and Boeing signed a $1bn agreement to modernise its fleet of AWACS aircraft. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
23 Aug 20. PLA Holds Concentrated Military Drills to Deter Taiwan Secessionists, US. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has announced four concentrated military drills across three major Chinese sea regions in the coming days, following a recent announcement of consecutive, realistic drills in the Taiwan Straits and at its north and south ends aimed at deterring Taiwan secessionists and the US.
Pressing the island of Taiwan from both the north and south ends, the simultaneous exercises in the South China Sea, the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea will demonstrate the PLA’s high level of combat preparedness, Chinese mainland military experts said on Sunday.
The drills are expected to hone in on the PLA troops’ cross-regional joint combat capability, because if military conflicts break out, they will not likely be restricted to one sea region, but interconnected, they said.
According to a navigation restriction notice released by the local maritime safety administration in Guangzhou on Sunday, the PLA will hold military exercises in the waters of the South China Sea, off the southeast coast of South China’s Guangdong Province, from Monday to Saturday.
Also in the South China Sea, military drills will be held in waters off Hainan Island’s southeast coast, also from Monday to Saturday, the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration announced on Friday.
In the Yellow Sea north of the island of Taiwan and the East China Sea, the PLA is holding large-scale, live-fire exercises from Saturday to Wednesday in a vast region of waters east of Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, and Lianyungang, East China’s Jiangsu Province, said a notice issued by PLA Unit 91208 and local maritime authorities on Friday.
Additionally, live-fire drills will also be held in the Bohai Sea in a fan-shaped area from Monday to September 30, the Tangshan Maritime Safety Administration announced on Friday.
The four simultaneous military drills in three major Chinese sea regions mean the island of Taiwan will be hemmed in by PLA exercises from both the north and the south, and taking into account the drills in the Taiwan Straits and at its north and south ends announced on August 13, the PLA is conducting major exercises in all of its four major sea regions with Taiwan in mind in August, analysts said.
The announcements did not provide further details regarding the drills.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that the drills are likely to feature anti-ship, air defense and anti-submarine exercises.
The drills could also be joint exercises that feature multiple military branches based in different regions of the country, Song said, noting that this could mean that these exercises could be linked to the recent consecutive, realistic drills in the Taiwan Straits.
In addition to the PLA Navy, other forces like the PLA Army, Air Force, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force could also be involved, analysts predicted.
The PLA should not prepare for battle in just the East China Sea and the Taiwan Straits, but in all Chinese sea regions, because the goal of these drills should be joint operations, and troops from Northern, Eastern and Southern Theater Commands should be capable of cross-regional joint combat, Song said.
If military conflicts in the Taiwan Straits break out, they will not likely be restricted to one sea region, but interconnected, Song stressed.
Continued US provocations
Chinese mainland analysts said that the PLA drills will not only demonstrate capabilities and act as a deterrence, but also give strong responses to recent US military activities in the Taiwan Straits.
Even after the PLA’s drills in the Taiwan Straits, the US continued to send warplanes and warships to the area, including the USS Mustin destroyer that sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Tuesday and multiple types of reconnaissance aircraft and B-1B bombers that flied near the island over the past week.
Additionally, the US Pacific Air Forces sent four B-1 bombers and two B-2 bombers in simultaneous missions on Tuesday in the Sea of Japan and the Indian Ocean, with some aircraft coordinating with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group near Japan at one point, US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday.
It is also very rare for the PLA to announce so many drills in such a short period of time. While the PLA conducts frequent, routine exercises according to schedule, many of them are usually not revealed to the general public, analysts said. The concentrated announcements can be seen as a strong signal, they noted.
Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Sunday that the concentrated PLA drills could serve as further warnings to Taiwan secessionists and the US, and show that the PLA is prepared and capable of effectively safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity in all sea regions.
While the East China Sea would become the main battlefield in a possible reunification-by-force operation, the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea will likely also become involved. The drills in the Bohai Sea might involve the testing of new missiles, Li estimated.
The PLA drills are expected to be real combat-oriented, including how the maritime battle would flow, what kind of challenges might occur, and what actions the militaries of the island and the US might take, Li said, noting that Taiwan secessionists and the US should not have any illusion that their provocative actions hitting below the Chinese mainland’s bottom line can succeed. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Global Times)
24 Aug 20. US Soldiers conduct exercise with Marine Corps in Hawaii. US Army Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment (FAR), 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division have carried out the first joint artillery exercise with marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Makua Valley in Hawaii.
Two Marine Corps V-22 Ospreys transported the troops and equipment of Tropical Lightning to the Makuwa Valley from Schofield barracks in Hawaii.
Two Army CH-47 Chinooks carried M119A3 howitzers.
This marks the first instance where Osprey was used to transport soldiers from the Tropical Lightning for joint artillery exercises.
3-7 FAR Battalion Commander Lt Col John Gwinn said: “Getting in and planning the event from start to finish and understanding how they operate versus how we operate was pretty challenging at first.
“We couldn’t ask for a better partner to execute it with us.”
Soldiers also carried out high-frequency communications, tactical rescue operations, and sling loading procedures when they were not in the air.
Due to the Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions, each task was presented with new challenges in a new environment.
The primary task of military commanders is to keep their troops healthy, but they are also responsible for the readiness of their troops.
This training exercise cultivated the relationship with the Marine Corps and demonstrated the capability and lethality of the command amid the global pandemic.
Gwinn added: “We continue to build upon this relationship with the marines. At the end of the day it’s a joint coalition force that is going to fight the nation’s wars.”
Last month, the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 (HMLA-367) of the United States Marine Corps participated in an integrated training event in Hawaii. (Source: naval-technology.com)
20 Aug 20. AI Slays Top F-16 Pilot In DARPA Dogfight Simulation.
“It’s a giant leap,” said DARPA’s Justin (call sign “Glock”) Mock.
In a 5 to 0 sweep, an AI ‘pilot’ developed by Heron Systems beat one of the Air Force’s top F-16 fighter pilots in DARPA’s simulated aerial dogfight contest today.
“It’s a giant leap,” said DARPA’s Justin (call sign “Glock”) Mock, who served as a commentator on the trials.
AI still has a long way to go before the Air Force pilots would be ready to hand over the stick to an artificial intelligence during combat, DARPA officials said during today’s live broadcast of the AlphaDogfight trials. But the three-day trials show that AI systems can credibly maneuver an aircraft in a simple, one-on-one combat scenario and shoot its forward guns in a classic, WWII-style dogfight. On the other hand, they said, it was an impressive showing by an AI agent after only a year of development. (As I reported earlier this week, the program began back in September last year with eight teams developing their respective AIs.)
Heron, a small, female- and minority-owned company with offices in Maryland and Virginia, builds artificial intelligence agents, and is also a player in DARPA’s Gamebreaker effort to explore tactics for disrupting enemy strategies using real-world games as platforms. The company beat eight other teams, including one led by defense giant Lockheed Martin — which came in second in the AlphaDogfight “semi-finals” that pitted the AI pilots against each other this morning.
Heron’s team did a live-stream Q&A on Youtube. “Even a week before Trial 1, we had agents that were not very good at flying at all. We really turned it around, and since then we’ve been really number one,” said Ben Bell, Heron’s co-lead for the project. The team intends to publish later this year some of the details about its reinforcement learning process for the AI, he said.
The trials were designed as a risk-reduction effort for DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program to flesh out how human and machine pilots share operational control of a fighter jet to maximize its chances of mission success. The overarching ACE concept is aimed at allowing the pilot to shift “from single platform operator to mission commander” in charge not just of flying their own aircraft but managing teams of drones slaved to their fighter jet. “ACE aims to deliver a capability that enables a pilot to attend to a broader, more global air command mission while their aircraft and teamed unmanned systems are engaged in individual tactics,” the ACE program website explains.
Heron Systems’ AI was extremely aggressive in the games, with its AI pilot consistently able to turn and score killing hits on the simulated F-16 piloted by an unnamed Air Force pilot, with the call sign “Banger,” a graduate of the Air Force’s highly selective Weapons School at Nellis AFB. The AI exhibited “superhuman aiming ability” during the simulation, Mock said.
While the trials were not in anyway “definitive” of an AI pilot’s future capabilities or even its viability, Mock said, at the same time “what we saw was that in this limited area, in this specific scenario, we’ve got AI that works.”
DARPA intends to take the simulator used in the trials, and the simulations, to Nellis, where other Air Force pilots can take a stab at trying to beat AI pilots. Next steps will be to move on to testing AI pilots’ capabilities to perform other types of aerial combat missions. Somewhere, the infamous Red Baron is no doubt laughing in amazement. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
20 Aug 20. USS Ronald Reagan conducts integrated operations with JS Ikazuchi. The US Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group has conducted integrated operations with Murasame-class destroyer JS Ikazuchi (DD 107) of Japan in the Philippine Sea.
This move is part of the current shared commitments to achieve regional stability through cooperation.
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) commanding officer Captain Pat Hannifin said: “The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group routinely conducts operations to support our nation’s commitment to regional stability and freedom of the seas.
“Seamless integration with our allies ensures a lethal and flexible global force, answering the call for prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea.
“We have utmost respect for our Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force partners and are proud to stand with them on watch in the Western Pacific.”
The Ikazuchi and the Reagan Strike Group carried out integrated flight operations, high-end tactical training, maritime defence exercises, and a replenishment-at-sea.
The America Expeditionary Strike Group also joined Ikazuchi and Reagan to boost the integrated operations in a multi-domain warfighting scenario.
With these integrated engagements, regional allies will be able to build upon the current relationships and bolster the international rules-based order.
JS Izakuchi commanding officer commander Sugiyama Yasuhiro said: “The Japan-US Alliance contributes to maintaining regional peace and stability.
“The bilateral exercise such as we conducted will make our relationship stronger. We are making steady progress to realize the free and open Indo-Pacific.”
This year, the integrated operations that were carried out include the USS America (LHA 6) with JS Kunisaki in January and four Destroyer Squadron 15 ships with JS Suzunami and Sawagiri in February.
The most recent integrated operations were the one with USS Mustin (DDG 89) and JS Suzutsuki, which finished on 18 August.
In May this year, USS Ronald Reagan successfully completed its maintenance availability programme. (Source: naval-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.