Tag Archives: special forces

The World According to Shephard: Week 44

NATO SOF prepare for battle

NATO special operations forces have taken part in an exercise across eastern Europe  involving scenarios loosely based on recent Russian incursions into Ukraine. The exercise was designed to enable NATO and non-NATO entity special forces to counter an invasion by an enemy force as well as ‘diversionary’ forces.

The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) hosted its ThunderDrone Prototype Rodeo, the culmination of the first in a series of rapid prototyping events that began in September. The results are expected to go beyond the physical drone with its mechanical features, autonomy, swarming and machine learning all being explored.

POL_SOF_6

Swarms of unmanned requirements

The Australian Army is also enhancing its aerial unmanned capabilities with the procurement of FLIR Systems’ PD-100 Black Hornet 2 nano-UAVs. The deal will increase the Army’s Black Hornet fleet to over 150 providing enough to equip every army combat team at the platoon and troop level with an organic reconnaissance capability.

The US Navy’s requirement for an unmanned Carrier-Based Aerial-Refuelling System has hit a bump in the road after Northrop Grumman withdrew from the MQ-25 Stingray programme following changes to the programme requirements. There is a risk that further changes could see other competitors to follow suit.

Boeing_MQ-25_Sunset_Carrier

Meanwhile in Israel the country’s first commercialised AUV, the HydroCamel II has completed over 250 hours of sea trials in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the system’s developers at Ben-Gurion University, the AUV’s autonomy and manoeuvrability capabilities set it apart from its competitors.

Watching the ships roll in

Above sea the Ukrainian coast guard is bolstering its fleet by purchasing up to 25 new high-speed patrol boats. The acquisition is part of Ukraine’s strategy for maritime security at each seaport to be ensured by a squadron of boats including unmanned patrol boats, a patrol attack boat, a high-speed interceptor, a coast guard boat and a new trimaran.

However in the UK the Royal Navy found itself in hot water this week after the National Audit Office published its investigation into equipment cannibalisation in the navy. The report found that between April 2012 and March 2017 there was a 49% increase in the practice with 60% of instances occurring between 2016 and 2017.

Picture are, on the left RFA GOLD ROVER, and on her right HMS LANCASTER sailing together on Atlantic Patrol Task (South) duties.

In Poland it has emerged that the Polish Navy may be forced to decommission its only Kilo-class submarine, ORP Orzel after a fire broke out on the boat. The fire is believed to have begun while crew members were discharging the submarine’s batteries while moored in the north of the country.

The digital battlespace

Moving into the digital world where the defence industry may be on the brink of a revolution as blockchain service providers  report increasing levels of interest from the industry. While the exact nature and extent of the impact blockchain will have remains uncertain, it is clear that this technology is here to stay.

Meanwhile Thales is in the process of analysing logged data from the recent Formidable Shield ballistic missile defence exercise to see if modifications made to its SMART-L Multi Mission radar can further enhance the technology. During the exercise the radar was able to detect the missile from a distance of 1,500km.

Thales

In the race to advance electronic warfare capabilities the US is expediting efforts to field technology into theatre that enables critical vehicle systems to remain functional in GPS-denied environments. GPS signals are increasingly vulnerable to jamming or spoofing by adversaries such as Russia who are actively deploying advanced EW capabilities.

 

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.’

JFKWHP-ST-A5-8-61

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.

The world according to Shephard: Week 41

Shephard’s AUSA team has had a fantastic week in Washington DC, reporting on all the latest military technology, innovations, conferences and much more. Find all Shephard’s AUSA coverage here.

Uncertain times

It was a ballistic start to the week as the US announced it had approved a potential sale of THAAD systems and support services worth $15 billion to Saudi Arabia. The region is no stranger to instability and political uncertainty but with civil wars in Yemen and Syria raging on, a diplomatic rift between Gulf nations and an increasingly bellicose Iran, Saudi Arabia is taking no chances.

The sale would boost Saudi Arabia’s missile defence capabilities and emerges at the same time as the country seeks to close a deal with Russia for the delivery of the S-400 (SA-21 Growler) long range air and missile defence system as part of a wider $3 billion arms package.

THAAD-Launch-Lockheed_Martin

Meanwhile, the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula are starting to stir concerns among members of UK Parliament, who this week questioned leading academics on what role the UK could play in the crisis. Speaking at the House of Commons Defence Committee, Nicholas Kitchen, LSE, offered some enlightening parallels with the Vietnam War.

Looking to the east, where European nations continue to formulate their response to Russia’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and activities. Romania’s approach has been to significantly increase its defence budget establish a Special Operations Command, part of a wider effort to enable Romanian SOF to respond more rapidly to situations emerging from the ‘frozen conflict’ in eastern Europe.

Romanian forces, public 'Open Gates' to US Allies

The highs and lows of autonomous technology  

NAVSEA has had a change of heart regarding its Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic Systems (AEODRS) programme, cancelling solicitations for Increments 2 and 3 sighting changing requirements and budget restraints.

In a speech at the RAeS, president of Hélicoptères Guimbal, Bruno Guimbal made his opinion of the likes of Uber and Airbus’ unmanned helicopter taxi ventures very clear, describing them as ‘purely marketing and promotion’.

Instead, he believes the VSR700, derived from his company’s Cabri G2, could well be the first certified autonomous light helicopter.

VSR700-demonstrator-PR-cropped-stage-02

India’s Central Reserve Police Force has issued an expression of interest and RfPs for 150 mini-UAVs and 300 micro-UAVs on an urgent basis to be used for surveillance, reconnaissance and detection as Indian police forces tackle border incursions and a home-grown insurgency.

The peacekeepers’ new Guardian

Malaysian peacekeepers in Lebanon will see their fleet of 46 4×4 Condor APCs replaced with IAG Guardian APCs. Nine Guardian APCs will arrive in Lebanon in mid-December and be operational by the new year in the first step towards replacing the entire Condor APC fleet in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Army publicly displayed a prototype of the Kaplan medium tank for the first time at the 72nd anniversary parade of the armed forces. The medium tank is being developed under a joint venture between Turkey’s FNSS and Indonesia’s state-owned PT Pindad.

Kaplan_Tank_-_small

OPVs, LSVs and LCS

Frigates and OPVs took centre stage at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition in Sydney last week, with Project Sea 5000 and Sea 1180 shortlisted to three contenders each. The three frigate contenders, BAE systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship, Fincantieri FREMM-A and Navantia F-5000, each presented their designs during a conference at the event.

Lockheed Martin and Austal USA have been awarded contract modifications to build additional littoral combat ships (LCS) for the US Navy. Both contracts are valued according to the congressional cost cap of $584 million per ship; however, the specific award amount has not yet been made public.

Freedom_USS_Detroit_LCS_7-_Marinette_Marine

And in Honduras the logistics support vessel (BAL-C) FNH-1611 Gracias a Dios built for the Honduran Naval Force was launched. The vessel is based on the Amphibious Landing Vessel designed and built for the Colombian Navy and was constructed in just ten months.

A fake news radar?

Reports of an apparent breakthrough in anti-stealth radar technology in Chinese-language media in Hong Kong and China turn out to be no more than a work of fiction. Wendell Minnick looked into the reports and found that the new ‘terahertz radar’ is probably not quite what it seems.

 

The world according to Shephard: Week 36

This week Grant Turnbull and Richard Thomas have been in Poland for MSPO. You can read all the latest news from the event here

Helicopter orders fly in

MD Helicopters was awarded a huge $1.38 billion contract for 150 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters. The initial 30 are bound for Afghanistan to boost the air force’s current fleet of 27 Cayuse Warriors. This comes as the Afghan Air Force, under guidance and funding from the US DoD, is undergoing a transition from Russian-built helicopters to US-manufactured aircraft.

Another significant helicopter deal this week was received by HAL for 41 Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), primarily destined for the Indian Army. The deal is worth $951 million and includes 18 Dhruv-WSI armed variants. However, the Dhruv has suffered a number of crashes in recent months, the latest occurring on the 5 September.

Indian_Rudra_-_small

On the blog, Helen Haxell provides some insight into the recent return to strength of the civil helicopter sector. She takes a look at the impressive recovery of platforms such as the H225 and the Bell 525 Relentless, as well as discussing the new technology OEMs have been experimenting with.

The tanks roll in

Russia is continuing to invest in land modernisation as the Russian MoD inked several high value contracts for new or upgraded equipment in late August, report Alex Mladenov and Krassimir Grozev in Sofia. Twenty-three contracts were signed with as many as 17 Russian defence companies receiving new orders worth an estimated $2.9 billion. The biggest share of new orders was given to main battle tank (MBT) manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, for the delivery of newly-built T-90M MBTs.

T-90M_01

Meanwhile, the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGDF) has been showing off its land capabilities at the Fuji Firepower demonstration. The JGDF performed a mobility demonstration of one of its new BAE Systems AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles for the first time.

Also on show was a prototype of the new Type 16 Manoeuvre Combat Vehicle (16MCV). The Ministry of Defence is procuring 99 vehicles by March 2019 with the aim of deploying the vehicle in rapid deployment regiments by March 2018.

JGSDF_AAV7_-_small.jpg

US Special Forces out and about

The Science and Technology Directorate at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has identified future SOF C4 needs. It’s vision is ‘to discover, enable and transition technologies to provide asymmetric advantage for Special Operations Forces (SOF).’ Specific technology areas of interest have been identified in an effort to accelerate the delivery of innovative capabilities to the SOF warfighter. Read more about SOF’s ambitions here.

In the Philippines, US SOF forces have been assisting the Philippine military in their battle against Islamist insurgents in Marawi. Gordon Arthur reports that the US closure of Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines in 2015 appears to have been premature in light of the vicious months-long fighting against the Maute separatists who are linked with ISIS.

JSOTF-P_1_-_small.JPG

China acts, ASEAN talks

Staying in the region, an agreement was reached in August for a ‘framework’ Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea  during the 7th East Asian Summit Foreign Minsters’ Meeting. Described by Wendell Minnick as lacking fortitude, the COC is a code for state behaviour pending the settlement of disputes over sovereignty of land features and the delimitation of maritime zones. He added commented that, ‘all ASEAN and China did was reiterate general principles that they had already agreed to 15 years ago.’

SCS_COC_-_small

In the meantime China’s naval expansion continues as the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned its largest naval supply ship to date. The Type 901 fast supply ship has a displacement of approximately 45,000t. Gordon said that ‘as the PLAN ventures further afield, the navy will require more capable and larger numbers of such auxiliary vessels.’

Greater clarity has also begun to emerge about the radical restructuring of China’s airborne air force. The airborne formation is a rapid reaction unit held in readiness for expeditionary or mobile tasks within China and increasingly for overseas contingencies. The restructuring is part of an effort to improve manoeuvring capability and extend their reach to ‘destinations in every theatre.’

PLAAF_Z-8KA_-_small_VafdwXH.JPG

Pre-DSEI highlights

Let the DSEI madness commence – take a look at what to look forward to at DSEI next week.

Shephard’s full show coverage throughout the week is available here.

docks

The world according to Shephard: Week 33

The glorious carrier?

This week UK defence news was dominated by the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier the Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth. For many it was a day of celebration and festivities that included a speech from the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

QE BAE

However for Richard Thomas, editor of IMPS, the arrival of the carrier was met with a more measured tone. In an analysis of the costs and benefits of the carrier he asks ‘is it a waste of space?’ and investigates the sacrifices that have been made elsewhere in the navy for the colossal vessel.

Meanwhile, Beth Maundrill discusses the potentially embarrassing event in which a hobbyist drone landed on the deck of the £3 billion platform. The landing of a small, commercial (potentially a DJI Phantom) on the carrier raised serious questions relating to the security of the carrier against small unmanned threats.

 

The battle for maritime dominance continues

In other maritime news, this week the US Navy commissioned a replacement to the ageing Afloat Forward Staging Base Interim USS Ponce in a ceremony held at Khalifa bin Salman Port, Bahrain. The new Expeditionary Sea Base has been designed to provide logistics movement from sea to shore to support a range of maritime operations.

Is America’s maritime dominance under threat? Wendell Minnick took a look at the implications of China’s first overseas military base and naval support facility in Djibouti which he believes represents a challenge to American dominance in the region. Read Wendell’s full analysis here.

DJIBOUTI-PLA-ARMY SUPPORT BASE-OPENING

China’s new base comes at a time of increasing maritime insecurity, as new offshore oil and gas finds off Africa’s coastline are drawing closer attention to the state of maritime security in the region.

 

Up, up and away

There has been surprisingly little sign of financial instability in the rotary industry as the largest helicopter OEMs have defied pessimists with steady Q1 and H1 results. While the industry still faces significant challenges and hurdles, such as gas price volatility and currency fluctuations, the four largest OEMs remain positive.

Helen Haxell takes a look at why we should all be feeling better about the future of the rotary industry. In her blog, Helen analyses some of the latest models coming onto the market and predicts a buoyant second half of 2017, with ‘good rotary times ahead.’

erickson-firefight

One case study is that of Erickson, which has emerged from bankruptcy with energy and currently have their S-64 Aircranes deployed around the world fighting wildfires in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

 

Acquisitions abound 

The Philippines have acquired six ScanEagles as part of a $7.4 million from the US Department of Defence.

While in the Middle East, Lebanon took delivery of the first batch of M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles at a ceremony addressed by the US Ambassador to the country. The delivery comes at a time when the Lebanese army is on the offensive in the North of the country to oust ISIS fighters currently occupying territory in the barrens of Arsal.

image_2jtZ7FQ

 

Finally, it’s all about the C-130 

This week it was announced that Honeywell will partner with Taiwan on the C-130 upgrade with technology transfer options from Honeywell to Taiwan’s state-owned AIDC for the air force’s C-130H Avionics Modernisation Programme.

There is also growing international interest in Lockheed Martin’s proposed C-130J-SOF export variant, which will be tailored to different operator’s requirements. Read more about the C-130J-SOF here.

Yokota Airmen are ready to the mission going

The week according to Shephard: Week 30

Ripples in the South China Sea

Vietnamese-Chinese relations have been brought to the fore again, as reported Wendell Minnick who also investigates US attempts to navigate political relations and military cooperation with Vietnam.

Wendell analyses the barriers preventing greater US-Vietnamese military cooperation and Vietnam’s complicated relations with China and Russia. Read the full story here.

vietnam-gepard-small

The Vietnam People’s Navy operates Russian built Gepard-class frigates

The ups and downs of procurement

Furthermore, Gordon Arthur reported that that this week Vietnam announced it has ordered 64 T-90S/SK main battle tanks from Russia as part of the Vietnam People’s Army’s efforts to upgrade its tank fleet.

Moving across the South China Sea, Gordon also reported that the Philippine Air Force’s second quest to acquire a pair of maritime patrol aircraft met with failure after all contenders were disqualified for various reasons. Find out more here.

 In North America, the US Coast Guard has run into a budgetary dilemma as it continues to lack a clear fleet modernisation plan and it remains unclear if the service can afford all the new assets it requires.

Antarctic Icebreaking 2017

USCGC Polar Star

The trouble with modernisation

The US Army is looking to possible M113 upgrades as a recent announcement seems to indicate that the service is still struggling with the future of the M113 personnel carrier and its related family of vehicles.

The Canadian Army is expecting to take delivery of a new soldier electronics suite, reports Grant Turnbull, a sign that the service’s long-delayed soldier modernisation effort is now back on track.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy’s UH-3H Sea Kings have reached the end of the road as the aircraft are reported to be riddled with deficiencies after 55 years of operation. Read more about the problems facing the platform here.

India Sea Kings

Indian Navy Sea King helicopter

Electronic Warfare

The US Army’s increasing focus on electronic warfare continues as it prepares to conduct an EW ‘excursion’ reports Scott Gourley from Texas.

Meanwhile, industry is looking to the future of military-level protection for smartphones as Privoro released its Privacy Guard which has caught the attention of the US special forces community.

As militaries across the world increase their EW capabilities Grant Turnbull looks into some of the developments that are changing the character of war.  

Russian EW exercise - Russian MoD

Russian troops during a recent electronic warfare exercise (Photo: Russian MoD)

Unmanned systems fill the skies

Five Additional ScanEagle UAS will be heading to the Afghan National Security Forces following a $19.6 million award from the US DoD.

However, the proliferation of unmanned systems is not restricted to recognised military forces, as Andrew White writes. While UAVs in the wrong hands represents a significant threat, the defence and security sector continues to mature technology capable of detecting and countering them.

UAVs in the wrong hands

ISIS has adopted unmanned systems into its asymmetric operations (Photo: Screen grab)

Special forces

In an interview with Shephard, the commander of Poland’s Special Operations Component Command discusses the threats faced by Poland and the role its special forces can play in countering them.

On the blog this week read about the Special Operations Forces operators who will be let loose on powerful jet skis in the San Diego Bay.

Poland Special Forces

Polish Special Forces

Special forces get wet ‘n wild

If being a highly-trained Special Operations Forces (SOF) operator wasn’t cool enough, up to 20 personnel from Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command are to be let loose on powerful jet skis in the San Diego Bay.

On 7 July the NSW Command announced it was searching for a vendor to provide up to 20 of its Basic Training Command staff a five day jet ski course near its San Diego Bay base.

JET SKIS in the Service of Army Special Forces 2 - c

Photo: Hellenic Army General Staff

Incorporating jet ski capabilities into the SOF repertoire is understandable as their high speeds, acceleration and manoeuvrability make the jet ski a viable platform for amphibious operations or operations at sea.

According to the request, the NSW staff will undergo training tailored towards the capabilities of the powerful Kawasaki Ultra 300X Jet Ski, which boasts 1,498cc, 300 horsepower and speeds of up to 100kmh.

Kawasaki

The five day programme includes initial training by day within the bay with later progression to open water ocean training at night.

Also covered will be various day and night rescue procedures and safety procedures regarding near shore hazards and ‘non organic seafaring traffic’.

There are significant limitations to the use of jet skis by SOF such as their inability to cope with high waves, wind and swell. A further issue that could hinder their regular deployment could be the noise level produced by powerful engines.

JET SKIS in the Service of Army Special Forces -c

Photo: Hellenic Army General Staff

Other forces known to utilise jet skis include the Greek Special Forces who have incorporated the platform into their SOF capabilities for the planning and execution of amphibious special operations since 2011. According to the Greek Army, teams on jet skis have the ability to rapidly disperse to different areas and later re-assemble using GPS.

So, as NSW trainees tear it up around San Diego Bay, they can be confident of the fact this is essential, operationally-relevant training.

 

« Older Entries