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Iraqi Pilots to Train On Iraqi-Purchased F-16s In Arizona

The initial group of F-16 fighter jets purchased by Iraq will be delivered to Tucson, Arizona, for Iraqi pilot training due to the security situation in Balad in Iraq, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said here today.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, the colonel discussed plans to send the aircraft to Arizona rather than Balad, where earlier this year delivery was originally planned.

“We had talked earlier in the summer about F-16s that the Iraqis had purchased,” Warren said. “They were due to go to Balad Air Base.”

The security situation still does not allow that, he said, so the initial group of F-16s will now be delivered to Tucson where there are Iraqi pilots currently in a training pipeline.

Security in Balad previously impacted the delivery of the aircraft when advances by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants triggered the evacuation from the air base of contractors who were part of the transfer process.

Iraqis Will Train With Their Own Aircraft

Following delivery of the fighters, Warren said, the Iraqi pilots in flight school in Arizona will begin to train on their own aircraft.

“We are going to deliver three F-16s to Tucson in December,” he said. “And then one per month after that through May for a total of eight F-16s.”

“We expect the Iraqi pilots will begin flying their own aircraft for continuation training beginning in January,” Warren said. “All maintenance for the F-16s will be provided by [contracted] logistic support.”

Warren said the Iraqi pilots have been using training aircraft — not their own purchased aircraft — for this training program.

“So they’re continuing their training,” he said, “but instead of training using U.S. training aircraft they will now use their own aircraft in Tucson.”

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USAF Bombers Train On Long-Range Capabilities

Two B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., recently flew non-stop from their home stations to training ranges in Hawaii to exercise the president’s credible and flexible military options to meet national security obligations to the U.S. and its allies. Part of the mission was to conduct coordinated range operations amongst multiple airframes as well as test low approach training capabilities before returning to their bases.

“These long-duration, coordinated training missions allow our strategic bomber aircrews to execute synchronized global strike missions tailored to the needs of the combatant commander,” said Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, commander, 8th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Commander for Global Strike.

The mission, which spanned nearly 8,000 miles from home station to the drop site and back to the home installation, tested the ability for planners to coordinate operations between combatant commands and amongst multiple Air Force wings. The 20-plus hour training missions also demonstrated the U.S.’ capability to provide a flexible and always-ready force to respond to a variety of threats and situations within U.S. Strategic Command’s global strike and strategic deterrence missions.

During the training mission, bomber crews enhanced their operational proficiency and readiness by releasing their inert ordnance on Hawaii’s Pohakuloa military weapon range. They also honed their skills at operating during a long duration flight; an important element of U.S. Strategic Command’s enduring deterrence capability.

“These tailored exercises are vital to assuring our nation’s leaders and our allies that we have the right mix of aircraft and skill to strike at the time and place of our choosing,” General Vander Hamm said.

The Department of Defense routinely conducts training missions to ensure the U.S. has a credible capability to respond to a variety of levels of threats and to provide the President a variety of options he may need to protect the nation or its allies and partners.

“Most bomber missions are long duration like this. The experience gained from this kind of training mission is invaluable,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Link, 96th Bomb Squadron commander, Barksdale AFB. “We boost our coordination capabilities and flying skills, and our bomber force is better for it.”

The B-2 and B-52 are long-range, multi-role bombers capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. Both bombers can fly at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.

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NATO and Swedish Fighter Jets Train Together Over the Baltic Sea

By on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Two U.S. fighter jets under NATO command were scrambled from the Siauliai air base in Lithuania Tuesday (1 April 2014) to exercise with two Swedish Gripen fighter aircraft over the Baltic Sea, in a training event designed to improve coordination and emergency procedures.

The Baltic Regional Training event is conducted several times a year. The exercises bring fighter jets from NATO countries together with the air forces of Sweden and Finland, which are longstanding partners of the Alliance. Search & Rescue and air combat training are included in the two-day event, which is designed to enhance the ability of fighter jets from NATO countries and regional partners to operate with each other effectively.

For the past ten years, air forces across NATO member states have patrolled the skies over the Baltic Allies – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – on a rotational basis, as the three Allies do not have fighter aircraft of their own. NATO’s air-policing mission protects the safety and integrity of Alliance airspace on a 24/7 basis.

The United States is currently responsible for policing Baltic airspace, from January to April 2014. For US Air Force Captain Tyler Clark, the chance to work with the Swedish air force is an important part of his mission. “Today’s scramble had us training with the Swedish Air Force to assist an aircraft which was simulating a loss of all communications, this kind of training is invaluable,” he said. “NATO’s airspace borders that of Sweden and Finland and we have to work together to ensure safety of all our airways.”

NATO normally has four to six fighter jets deployed for the air-policing rotations. In light of the current crisis in Ukraine, the United States has reinforced the air-policing mission with additional aircraft. Many European Allies have also offered additional planes to the mission.

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American, Japanese snipers train on common ground

American and Japanese snipers came together to exchange their knowledge and learn from each other to enhance their combat readiness Sept. 5, at the Yakima Training Center, Wash. They focused on target detection, reconnaissance techniques and cover and concealment.

The training was part of Operation Rising Thunder 13, a three-week exercise designed to develop all warfighting functions for both Japanese and U.S. forces. More than 800 Soldiers from I Corps and almost 500 members of the 16th Regimental Combat Team, Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, known as the JGSDF, are scheduled to train together on full-spectrum operations through Sept. 24.

Snipers from the two nations spent the first day of training, Sept. 5, getting to know each other. They were mixed together and broken down into teams of three — a spotter, sniper and senior sniper. Since the teams consisted of Soldiers from both nations, they had the opportunity to work together to enhance their skills as they learn the different techniques they use to accomplish their job. The teams are scheduled to compete against each other after two weeks of training.

“Japanese snipers are great marksmen. For us our first job is reconnaissance, so we are focusing our training on that,” said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Shaw, battalion sniper section leader, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Although communications might seem difficult between members who speak different languages, the snipers are finding creative ways to overcome the obstacle — whether it’s using hand signals, drawing, or asking a translator for help.

“We want to train them as much as they want to be trained and vise-versa, we want to learn from them anything they can teach us,” said Shaw, a native of Reno, Nev.

Before the snipers began firing, they received a class on the dynamics of the sniper weapons system proper firing procedures, and then separated into teams. The teams then went onto the firing lane to begin their hands-on training.

“Our members want to learn from the combat experience of their American counterparts. They see in them a wealth of knowledge,” said Sgt. Maj. Matsuba Munetsugu, 16th RCT, JGSDF.

This is the 20th year of the exercise and the scale is much larger since the JGSDF brought additional resources.

“The result from this change is, it provides a better training opportunity and the relationship that it builds with Soldiers from both militaries is going to be really important as we move forward,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, during the opening ceremony, Sept. 4.

According to Lanza, this year’s training will include all capabilities and weapons for a combined training exercise, and the training exercise will continue to build more opportunities to give Soldiers the best training possible.

“There is a professionalism that exists between our Soldiers, even though we are from different countries,” Lanza said. “While our cultures may be different, and our languages may be different the similarities between Soldiers are the same.

“As we work and train together we will sustain the bonds of trust that unites us professionally,” Lanza continued. “The United States military must be globally aligned and regionally focused in this exercise with the Japanese Defense Forces. We look forward to working together, training together and learning from you as we continue this great training opportunity.”

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Time to train for world’s first fleet of marine drones

An odd underwater ballet has been unfolding in the Mediterranean port of Toulon these past few days.

Under the scrutiny of their masters, whose eyes are glued to computer screens, the world’s first fleet of “marine drones” is being put through its paces.

Five European countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal — have sent prototypes here under a four-year, four-million-euro ($5.32-million) programme to build a squad of unmanned underwater rovers.

Deployed from a surface vessel, but communicating among themselves and using artificial intelligence, the wireless scouts would spread out in a surveillance network.

Using video cameras and echo sounders, the explorers would help to create 3D maps of underwater terrain, benefiting oceanographers, archaeologists, offshore oil and gas drillers, pollution monitors, marine biologists and other civilian users.

But there is an obvious naval use too, for a flexible network of small, hard-to-detect drones would multiply the surveillance capacity against mines and other threats.

“Underwater robots are not new — we’ve been involved in them for years,” said Vincent Rigaud, director of underwater systems at the French Institute for Research for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer), one of the world’s top names in oceanography.

“What is new, though, is creating a fleet of them, with autonomous capacity.”

Achieving this means overcoming two major hurdles, Rigaud explained.

One is software: creating artificial intelligence programmes that give the options for cooperating in a group and coping with the uncertainties of the marine environment, with its tides and currents.

The other is communications. Airborne drones can talk to each other, and to their controller, by the instant means of radio.

But radio waves do not penetrate underwater, which leaves sound the only option for communication among the marine drones.

Rather like a school of dolphins chirping to each other, the robots use acoustic signals to swap information and instructions — and as experiments have shown, this is not an easy thing.

The communication is frustratingly long because the data flow is so slow, and the tenuous sound link is easily disrupted by other sources of noise, such as a passing vessel.

“It’s like going back to modems in the dawn of the computer age,” said Pere Ridao of the University of Girona in Spain.

“The maximum flow rate is about 100,000 times slower than a typical ADSL connection. It takes several minutes to send a picture.”

On a mission, the robots would share a rough map of the underwater terrain, showing major obstacles to avoid, but would then work by themselves within designated parameters.

What they see and monitor would be stored in onboard memories which would then be downloaded after they are recovered. Powerful computers would crunch the raw data into useable applications.

“The vehicles are not physically connected but virtually connected,” explained Antonio Pascoal, a professor at Portugal’s Superior Technical Institute (IST).

“The idea is for them to dialogue and adapt to marine geometry without human intervention.”

The programme, called MORPH (Marine Robotic System of Self-Organizing, Logically Linked Physical Nodes), was launched in February 2012 with the help of the European Commission. Thirty-two scientists are taking part.

Things are still at an early stage, with up to five machines learning how to move in formation in shallow water.

The models generally favour either a torpedo or a “sledge” design, reflecting at this conceptual stage the different notions for dealing with mission requirements.

Italy, for instance, has a 31-kilo (66-pound) torpedo-shaped tiddler, designed by the NATO Undersea Research Center (NURC) in La Spezia, which can operate for eight hours in depths of up to 80 metres (260 feet).

Spain’s 200-kilo (440-pound) Girona 500 comprises three rounded tubes driven by twin propellers, able to operate at depths of up to 500 meters (1,625 feet), also for eight hours, according to the MORPH website (http://morph-project.eu/).

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Ramstein Airmen train with Israeli air force

By on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Contingency Response Group conducted a Flying Training Deployment with the Israeli air force’s 103rd Squadron Jan. 27 to Feb. 8 here.

The FTD advanced the ability of both American and Israeli air and ground crews to perform in combat operations, as well as strengthened partnerships between the two allies.

“The purpose of this training was to hone our tactical expertise while building partnerships and maximizing bilateral training,” said Capt. Raymond Bevivino, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot and FTD mission commander. “This opportunity allowed us to accomplish training that we just can’t get anywhere else.”

With minimal restrictions to altitude, air space and weather, the two-week deployment ensured many of the 37th AS pilots met training requirements which keep them proficient on combat airlift tactics.

“There’s a ton of stuff we have to get trained on, and I got 57 semi-annual requirements accomplished in a four-hour flight,” said 1st Lt. Sean Jensen, 37th AS pilot.

More than five years have passed since the 86th AW and the 103rd Squadron trained together. Since then, the 86th AW has transitioned from the C-130 E/H model to the newer, more advanced C-130J model. The IAF is scheduled to undergo the same transition this year.

“We flew with Israeli pilots who are going to be transitioning from their (C-130E/H) models to the new J’s … they flew with us and we talked about some of our different procedures and tactics and the way we employ the C-130J,” said Capt. Brett Polage, 37th AS pilot. “They talked about some of their tactics and how they train here in Israel, and we basically just compared notes.”

Sharing tactics with the IAF ensured the 37th AS pilots sharpened their skills as combat airlifters.

“Any time you teach something, you learn it better than you knew it before,” said Col. William Ward, 86th Operations Group commander. “It helps cement in our minds some of the differences … (to) emphasize the ways that we have to operate differently with fewer crew members while fully exploiting the technology.”

It wasn’t just the pilots who had the opportunity to teach their craft to the IAF; Airmen from the 86th Operations Support Squadron, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 86th Maintenance Squadron, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 435th Air Mobility Squadron were also present for the FTD.

“I have each specialty with me … like hydraulics, like electricians, (communications), (navigation), avionics, (hydraulics) – each system,” said Master Sgt. Dana Aube, 86th AMXS productions superintendent. “(IAF members) come over and I have my experts from each system walk them through the differences of the E/H’s from the J’s.”

The maintainers worked days and nights to ensure two sorties of two C-130s went up nearly every day. The training is considered imperative to the readiness of the wing for contingency operations.

“They’re working hard at getting their combat training accomplished,” Ward said. “If we were to execute contingency operations in that area in the future … we will have the benefit of having flown in the air space.”

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US Army Units Train for UAV Operations

By on Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Unmanned aerial vehicles soared through the sky under the control of 16 “Raider” Brigade Soldiers during QR-11 Raven training on Fort Carson, Jan. 7-18.

During the two-week training certification course, Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in a variety of career fields, learned how to launch, maneuver and land the small, unmanned aircraft in a variety of situations, including aerial security during movement operations, terrain reconnaissance and target acquisition during night operations.

“The benefit of this training can’t be overstated,” said 2nd Lt. Theresa Ross, intelligence officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “The Raven is small, lightweight and portable. We use it for everything from site reconnaissance to target acquisition, so having several Soldiers trained and qualified to operate it is a huge combat multiplier.”

The hands-on approach to the training helped the Raiders get a feel for the tactical importance of the unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as a solid understanding of its capabilities and limitations, said Ross.

“Not a whole lot of intelligence officers get the chance to learn about this hardware first hand,” she said. “Because I have first-hand knowledge of the Raven, I will have reasonable expectations of what we can accomplish with it during a combat deployment.”

The Raven is designed for quick assembly and deployment at the lowest levels of the military structure. Weighing only four pounds and operated by remote control, the Raven can gather video or photographic intelligence, or direct forces to a target using an infrared laser.

Having Soldiers from both combat arms and support career fields participating in the training ensures that no mater what the situation, U.S. forces can always get an “eye in the sky,” said Steve Rocovitch, small unmanned aerial system instructor, Rally Point Management.

“The Raven is a great asset to the military, but only if it is used properly,” Rocovitch said. “I have confidence that these Soldiers can take what we’ve practiced these past two weeks and implement them in a complex deployed environment.”

While one Soldier flew the Raven via remote control, others viewed the unmanned aerial vehicle’s flight on a laptop, implemented flight patterns and controlled its cameras and other tools.

“In addition to learning how to operate the Raven, I gained a better understanding of all the things going on in an operating environment,” said Pfc. Glen Default, infantryman, Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “When I fly, I have to be aware of everything going on in my airspace and know what is going on ground side to accomplish my mission. It’s a much bigger picture than I have been exposed to.”

The Raider Soldiers will continue to train in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of U.S. Army Central Command.

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