Author Archives: guestquillorcapture

Leaves of change

Autumn, or Fall for our US friends, is now in full effect, and as the fallen leaves start piling up outside of Shephard Towers, we are looking at our sense of change.

In September, we refreshed our branding and rolled out a new fully responsive website, and we are now focusing on, among other things, developing our email content and delivery.

Please do get in touch with any feedback or if you would like to learn more about accessibility email me at:


US Army advances robotic mule use


Ten unmanned systems will be taking part in the US Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme with trials currently taking place at Fort Benning, Georgia, Shephard has learnt…

Frigates and OPVs parade three by three in Australia


Frigates and OPVs were a major focus at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition in Sydney last week, with each programme – Project Sea 5000 and Sea 1180 respectively – shortlisted to three contenders each after RfTs were earlier issued.

KAI unveils T-50A variant


Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) unveiled its latest variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer (AJT) at this week’s Seoul ADEX, being held from 17-22 October.


BAE showcases SHORAD for Bradley

Rheinmetall Canada displays armed UGV

Helitech 2017: Show review 


Event highlights

Defence & Security 2017

This year’s Defense & Security event in Thailand kicks off next week and we will be providing both news and video coverage. If you are there, please visit us at Booth B 15.


Dubai Airshow 2017

From 12-16 November, we will be covering this year’s Dubai Airshow. If you are at the show, make sure to drop by our booth (1882) and say hello.

I/ITSEC 2017

We will be providing news and video coverage of this year’s I/ITSEC, from 27 Nov to 1 Dec, in Orlando, Florida. Come see us at Booth 2117.

Other events

In November, we will also be attending Global MilSatCom and the Commercial UAV Show in London; Milipol in Paris; and AOC Annual in Washington.

If you would like to learn more about Shephard please visit

Andreea Tomut, Marketing Manager



Special Forces honour JFK’s early vision

Representatives of the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), led by Maj Gen Francis Beaudette, 1st SFC (A) commanding general, held the commemorative President John F. Kennedy Wreath Laying Ceremony at the JFK grave site at Arlington National Cemetery on 25 October.

In doing so, they continued a Special Forces tradition of paying tribute to JFK’s vision of building a dedicated counter insurgency force, a vision that helped build the Green Berets into the elite force they have become over the last five decades.

John F. Kennedy Wreath Laying Ceremony

According to records at the JFK Presidential Library, then-President Kennedy visited Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces on 12 October 1961.

During the course of their meeting, the president asked Brig Gen William P. Yarborough, ‘Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?’ Yarborough replied, ‘They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.’

Following a Special Forces capability demonstration, Kennedy sent a message to the general which read, in part, ‘The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one and I know that you and the members of your Command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.’


Soon after, Kennedy authorised the Green Beret as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and further showed his support for Special Forces in publishing an official White House Memorandum to the US Army dated 11 April 1962.

This stated in part that ‘the Green Beret is again becoming a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom’.

The wreath laying ceremony continues a Special Forces tradition that honours Kennedy’s prescient vision.

Written by Scott Gourley, North American Group Editor for Shephard Media.

Safety and innovation to take centre stage at Helitech International 2017

Returning to the Excel London next week from 3-5 October, Helitech International 2017, has lined up the industry’s biggest names to showcase the latest, cutting-edge technology and innovations making waves across the sector.

Around 200 exhibitors will be exhibiting at Helitech International this year and with 23 countries represented, it’s shaping up to be a truly global affair providing a great opportunity to network with key decision-makers in the sector and deliver new business opportunities.

We’re also welcoming 22 new companies to the show for the first time, adding to the diversity in platforms, systems, technology and equipment available for visitors to see.

Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopter, Leonardo, Babcock International, Euravia, Waypoint Leasing, and Aerolite, are just some of the names that have confirmed support for the event.


Exhibitors will be hosting a variety of events on their stands with Airbus Helicopters giving visitors the chance to look around the new H160 prototype via an interactive virtual reality (VR) experience while Euravia will be offering guided 360 VR tours of its facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bell Helicopter will showcase a Bell 429 while an EMS-configured H145 and PBA H125 will be featured on the Airbus stand. On the static displays, Airbus will also introduce a full-scale model of its H160 prototype giving visitors an insight into the future of the ‘connected helicopter’.

The speaker programme for the insight seminars and technical sessions has been carefully crafted to cover the key topics shaping the future the rotorcraft sector, with safety and technology taking the limelight.

Kim Harris, Senior Business Development Manager, ASU Inc., has accumulated more than 3,700 hours of NVG flights, and will address the latest developments in night safety procedures and technologies with insights on past, present and future operations.


David Perez Pinar of Babcock International Group will reveal the latest technological innovations in Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems addresses the growth in unmanned aerial vehicles.

Helitech International is all about bringing the rotorcraft industry together and facilitating discussions between operators to develop new business leads, make new connections and discuss the sector with likeminded individuals.

Shephard Media will be providing Helitech International Show News Daily, see the site for all the latest news and updates.

If you haven’t registered, there’s still time. Click here to register and join us at the ExceL London next week!

Teresa Heitor, exhibition manager at Reed Exhibitions

Japan and US Conduct Live Fire Drills Amid Regional Tension

Following on from DB editor, Grant Turnbull’s blog on rising tensions in Asia, guest blogger Sam Bocetta takes an in depth look at the recent US-Japanese military exercise.

Last week, some 300 US and Japanese military personnel carried out live fire drills in northern Japan, despite the simmering regional tension between the US and North Korea.

The drills were part of an artillery training exercise being jointly conducted by the US and Japanese militaries. Live shells were fired from armed vehicles at a training area on the northern island of Hokkaido. Troops from Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) and the USMC were both involved.

Northern Viper 4

These live fire drills formed part of a huge 19-day joint exercise between the two countries. Though the exercise had been planned years in advance, there had been calls for it to be called off due to the increased tension between the US and North Korea. The drill is likely to further inflame the war of words between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, during which the North Korean leader has threatened to fire missiles at the pacific island – and US military base – of Guam.

Northern Viper 2017

The drills form part of Northern Viper 2017, a huge and ambitious joint exercise of the US and Japanese militaries. More than 2,000 US Marines, and some 1,500 members of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF), were involved. The drills took place at the Misawa Air Base in northern Japan.

The exercise was designed to test the compatibility and interoperability of the JSDF and the US Marine Corps. Though primarily focused on troops’ abilities to deal with peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, the drills also saw an impressive deployment of military hardware.

Northern Viper 6

Though the US and Japan have been military allies for many years now, they have not often trained together, and some analysts had worried about the ability of the two countries to co-operate at a tactical level. Northern Viper sought to address this issue by stressing low-level interoperability between the two forces.

The exercise involved a range of US forces. The USMC deployed in Okinawa are a highly-capable, forward-deployed unit, and are critical to the US’s ability to project power in the Asia-Pacific region. The relationship between the US and Japanese militaries allows these troops to train in Japan.

Accordingly, the exercise involved US troops from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and the 3rd Marine Division. The aircraft wing were charged with providing direct aerial support to the ground troops of both the 3rd Marine Division and the JSDF. Various training exercises were conducted alongside the live fire artillery drills. These consisted of assault support missions, simulated offensive air support, and simulated casualty evacuations.

Northern Viper 5

During the exercise, the US military fired, for the first time ever in Japan, the M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). This system can fire a range of guided missiles – either a barrage of six short-range missiles each armed with a 200lb (91kg) warhead, or one long-range missile that is capable of hitting targets out to 186 miles (299km).

HIMARS require a crew of three – a driver, gunner and chief. An advanced computer-based fire control system enables the crew or even a lone soldier to operate the entire system. The fire control system includes keyboard control, video, programme storage and GPS. The fire control computer allows firing missions to be carried out in automatic or manual mode. Fire systems use advanced GPS and optics systems to find and lock onto targets.

MV-22 Northern Viper

Northern Viper also involved a range of aircraft. The US deployed F-16 fighter jets, UH-1 Hueys and AH-1Z Cobra helicopters. Controversially, the US also deployed several MV-22 Osprey helicopters, against the wishes of the Japanese government. Several recent crashes have led to concerns over the safety of this tilt-rotor vehicle.

Training in Japan allows the USMC to conduct exercises that are impossible in Okinawa. Hokkaido has ranges that allow for aircraft to conduct live fire exercises, for instance. Large exercises such as Northern Viper also allow US forces to identify weaknesses, and possible areas of conflict with coalition partners, that are invaluable to the ongoing development of these forces.

Northern Viper 7

Regional Tensions

Though Northern Viper had been planned months in advance, there had been pressure for it to be called off due to the increased tension in the Asia-Pacific region. It has been claimed that military exercises like this, especially when incorporating live-fire drills, run the risk of escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

Though none of the weapons deployed in Northern Viper are a threat to North Korea, the exercise serves to underline the close relationship between the US and Japanese militaries. This relationship has long been a source of tension between the US, North Korea, and China. And although Hokkaido is quite some distance away from the Korean Peninsula, it is reasonable to assume that both China and North Korea watched the exercise with interest.


For Japan, the exercise not only provides valuable training experience, but also the opportunity to showcase its increasing military capability. Japan’s defence budget has steadily risen over the last few years, driven by the deteriorating security situation in the region, and it is now coming under increasing pressure to acquire a pre-emptive strike capability.

Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer who worked for over 35 years as an engineer specialising in electronic warfare and advanced computer systems. Bocetta is also a contributor on Gun News Daily. He now teaches at Algonquin Community College in Ottawa, Canada as a part time engineering professor.


Going underground – tactical comms

By Andrew White

Since the main assault to retake the City of Mosul from Daesh launched on 17 October 2016, the progress of Iraqi and coalition security forces appears to have been halted as defending forces take the fight into the subterranean environment.

According to US DoD estimates, anywhere between four and ten thousand Daesh fighters remain in Mosul with gains made by the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) already being curbed.


USAF Colonel John Dorrian, the DoD spokesperson in Iraq, explained to the media in October, IS or Daesh had started to build tunnels throughout Mosul ahead of the openly planned offensive well before offensive actions were triggered.

Such a tactic, Dorrian conceded, would present ‘unique tactical and operational’ concerns for advancing forces conducting missions to clear miles and miles of subterranean tunnel networks that they use for tactical movement and to hide weapons.


According to Obsidian Technologies’ Charles Cavanagh, communications in subterranean environments present significant challenges for armed forces including different refraction and reflection of signals off wet, dry, tiled and irregular walls; interference from nearby high-power systems; as well as assault teams remaining in close enough contact to maintain relay linkages.

‘This is a multi-faceted problem space. In the cave and tunnel environment, Line of Sight communication is pretty
much absolute and there are added challenges such as multi-path communications; radio discipline; and command and control,’ he explained to Digital Battlespace.

Critical to any military operation is communication and the ability to successfully transmit and receive calls to, from and within the subterranean environment. This is an issue which continues to hound defence forces today, particularly prevalent for Special Operations Forces (SOF) conducting complex counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in urban environments.

Defence sources associated with ISOF explained to Digital Battlespace how Iraqi CT Forces lacked such capability on a grand scale, now required to achieve mature tactical communications connectivity across subterranean environments.

More mature SOF organisations globally have previously relied upon the use of tactical repeater systems which could be cached in sequence throughout underground areas of operation in order to relay communications via Line of Sight to the surface.

However, the market is now witnessing the emergence of specialist standalone technology as well as the development of tailored waveforms capable of being integrated on board Software Defined Radios.

Standalone options revolved around the utility of Through-The-Earth (TTE) communications, capable of penetrating ultra low radio frequency waves (300-3000 Hz) through rock and dirt. Such technology derives from the mining industry where higher frequency signals have traditionally been rebroadcast or relayed through antenna and repeater stations as well as mesh solutions such as the popular Mobile Ad Hoc Networking systems proliferating the defence and security market today.

rf-7850m-hh-multiband-networking-handheld-radio-2Additionally, significant attention must be paid to communication headsets with the US DoD selecting Atlantic Signal’s Subterranean Voice Communication System on 19th September 2016.

‘You need a headset and microphone system which can allow you to listen around corners in a very quiet environment. Radio communication needs to be separate to ear canal so some operators can prefer a microphone instead of bone conductor through the ear.

‘On top of that, operations in underground or enclosed spaces can go from very quiet to very noisy so operators need communications headsets with the capability to enhance listening but also actively protect the ears.

Atlantic Signal designed the Dominator II headset which was initially developed in tandem with the US Naval Special Warfare Command.

For more see the feature on Middle East tactical communications developments in the January/February 2017 edition of Digital Battlespace, out now!

Model Masterplan

By Gerrard Cowan

The US Navy (USN) first deployed the MH-60R Seahawk in 2009, and will receive its final scheduled deliveries of the helicopter in the summer of 2018.

While the aircraft has been in service for some years now, it continually receives upgrades and modifications to allow it to adapt to an evolving operational environment.

The Romeo variant is primarily focused on ASW and ASuW, with secondary missions including SAR and medevac.

According to manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the platform – along with its sibling, the MH-60S – has flown more than 650,000 hours across a 500-plus fleet. It is deployed with both the USN and a number of export customers.


(All images: Lockheed Martin)

The most recent batch for the service was procured in FY2016, making a total of 280 platforms, said Capt Craig Grubb, manager of the navy’s H-60 programme. The final set of 29 MH-60Rs is known as Lot 14, and will be delivered in June 2018.

The acquisition is part of a rotorcraft masterplan, designed to take seven different types and replace them with the two MH-60 variants, and the programme is almost complete.

According to Grubb, the SH-60F retired in the spring of 2016 and the SH-60B retired in 2015.

There are still a few HH-60Hs remaining in the fleet, which he said will be in service through FY2019 and possibly longer. ‘They’re pretty valued by the fleet, so there’s a lot of consideration being given to keeping those aircraft in service longer,’ he told DH.

The MH-60R and MH-60S are enduring platforms that are likely to be around for decades, said Chris Stellwag, director of marketing communications at CAE Defence & Security, which provides the USN and international customers with simulators and other training devices for the aircraft.

‘One of the advantages for foreign militaries when they acquire a platform like that is they’re getting the benefit of the significant investment the USN is making in the continual upgrades and enhancements to a fleet of 500-plus helicopters,’ he commented.

This meant that international customers were able to leverage the investment the USN is making in enhancing the aircraft, through new sensor suites, weapon systems or countermeasures, for example.


Additionally, it boosted interoperability with their US ally. Stellwag said the helicopter was an attractive, low-risk and cost-effective platform. ‘We’re always conscious of maintaining strong positions in platforms that we think are enduring, and that’s what we’ve successfully been able to do so far with the Seahawk,’ he said.

‘We definitely see opportunities over the next decade with other countries, and continued improvements and enhancements to the suite of training systems that the USN uses.’

While the navy is in only the very early phases of exploring what a successor to the MH-60 might look like, there is an interest in being able to migrate the work done on the mid-life upgrade onto another platform at a later date.

For more on the USN’s MH-60R programme looking ahead to mid-life upgrades and an eventual successor, please see the January/February edition of Defence Helicopter for further details.

Operator challenges to be put under the spotlight at Helitech International 2016

Guest blog from: John Hyde, Exhibition Director at Helitech International

This year Helitech International will return to the RAI Amsterdam for the second time following a successful debut in the venue for the 2014 event. With a new seminar and workshop programme in place and plenty of new content.

We’re excited to present visitors with a unique opportunity to source the latest equipment, while learning about the current trends shaping the future of our sector.

Around 200 exhibitors from 20 countries will be exhibiting at Helitech International 2016 and it’s shaping up to be a truly global stage to bring the rotorcraft industry together and deliver new business opportunities.

We’re also delighted to welcome over 35 companies who are making their Helitech International debut, adding to the depth and diversity of platforms, systems, equipment, components and services on display.

Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopter, Leonardo, Waypoint Leasing, Marenco Swiss Helicopter, Dart Aerospace, and Aerolite, are just some of the names that have confirmed their support for the event.


Exhibitors will be hosting a range of events on their stands. Leonardo will feature a virtual reality hoist to enable visitors to experience its use in a variety of weather conditions, while Dart Aerospace Ltd will hold a press event to officially announce its new European partners.

Techniques such as simulation and digital presentations continue to play an increasingly important part of many exhibitor’s display as they explain what can be complex technologies.

Alongside the exhibition and static displays, the new programme of seminars and workshops will be packed with insights from leading global experts.

Together with the returning Business Leaders Forum and Safety Workshops, operators will form a key focus for our 2016 programme with the launch of the Operators Forum.

A new initiative where operators from across the globe can network with like-minded individuals and discuss the evolving rotorcraft industry and ways of addressing the issues most relevant to their businesses.

For the first time this year we have also been working with manufacturers to launch Technical Workshops that will offer interactive briefings on different types of technology, fit outs and missions.

Delivered by leading businesses including Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo and Bell Helicopter, the sessions will enable operators to garner actionable insights before making purchasing decisions.

With visitor registrations from people in over 70 countries, pre-registration has been very positive.

Over 180 operators from companies such as Babcock International, Bristow, Heli Holland and CHC are confirmed to attend, highlighting the growing confidence and innovation opportunities within the rotorcraft market. The stage has been set to offer a one-stop-shop for visitors to meet their purchasing, education and training needs.


Helitech International is all about bringing together the rotorcraft industry, allowing operators, key decision-makers, exhibitors and like-minded individuals the chance to network and make new connections.

This will be celebrated with an industry reception taking place at the end of the day on Tuesday, 11 October.  Co-hosted with RAI Amsterdam, attendees of the show are all invited for drinks and canapes to continue conversations from the exhibition floor in a less formal environment.

Shephard Media will be providing Helitech International Show News Daily, see the site for all the latest news and updates.

If you haven’t registered, there’s still time. Click this link to register and join us in Amsterdam next week!

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