Fort Hood-based air cavalry arrives in Europe for Atlantic Resolve rotation

A U.S. Army 1st Air Cavalry Brigade AH-64 Apache helicopter is offloaded in Zeebrugge, Belgium, on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — U.S. Army helicopters arrived in Belgium on Friday to begin a nine-month rotation providing close-air support for units stationed in Europe.

About 2,000 soldiers with the Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade brought 89 helicopters across the Atlantic to Chievres Air Base early Friday morning.

After unloading, they’ll move to locations across the Continent as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States’ commitment to deterring aggression in Eastern Europe after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Most 1st ACB soldiers and helicopters will be based at headquarters in Illesheim, Germany, but smaller detachments will go to Latvia, Poland and Romania, where Atlantic Resolve is focusing much of its deterrent effort.

The soldiers, whose home base is Fort Hood, Texas, brought 12 CH-47 Chinooks, 38 UH-60 Black Hawks, 15 HH-60 Black Hawks for medevacs and 24 AH-64 Apaches to Europe.

The Texas-based soldiers are scheduled to take over Army air operations from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade on Nov. 7. The outgoing brigade, from Fort Drum, N.Y., is wrapping up its nine-month mission.


Final stage of CSTO joint military exercise takes place in Kazakhstan

The final stage of the CSTO joint military exercise took place in Kazakhstan.

The Collective Rapid Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) began the two-week exercise at Kazakhstan’s Matybulak training grounds on October 2, with more than 7,000 personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan taking part.

The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

According to the CSTO Secretariat, the exercise is aimed at practicing the deployment of the force in crisis situations on the territory of member states.


NATO Not Ready In Case Of Russian Attack – report


NATO would not be able to rebuff a potential Russian attack on its eastern flank, according to an internal report cited on October 20 by German weekly Der Spiegel.

The paper, titled Progress Report On The Strengthened Deterrence And Defense Capability Of The Alliance, pointed to significant deficiencies.

“NATO’s ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander’s area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War,” Der Spiegel quoted the report as saying.

Even the strengthening of the NATO Response Force (NRF) has failed to ensure that it could “react rapidly and — if necessary — sustainably,” it said.

The report cited a downsized command structure since the fall of communism as one of the paramount elements that has undermined the alliance’s defense capabilities, Der Spiegel quoted the report as saying.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the German magazine report but said that alliance “forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades.”

Lungescu said that efforts are “under way to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile, and fit for purpose.”

The alliance’s command structure is to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers next month.
NATO’s relations with Russia are at their lowest since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.


Cruise Missiles for HX

Corporal Frisk

From the outset the Finnish Defence Forces have been stating that they are not replacing a multirole fighter (and thus buying a new one), but instead they are replacing the capabilities of it (and thus buying a new one to provide the same capabilities as the old one). This might look like semantics, but was suddenly brought to the forefront when the RFI for weapons and external sensors was sent out.

Short background: the current Finnish Hornet-fleet sport five different weapon types (plus an internal gun). The AIM-9 Sidewinder (in L- and X-versions) provide short-range air-to-air capability, while the AIM-120C provide medium-range air-to-air capability. With the MLU2 air-to-ground weapons have been brought in as well. The JDAM-series of guidance kits are fitted to ordinary 225, 450, and 900 kg bombs (official designations then being GBU-38, GBU-32, and GBU-31 respectively). These use a combination of internal navigation (INS) and GPS to…

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Russia stands by promise to deliver six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia

Russia has kept its promise to deliver six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters to Serbia, which was timed to coincide with the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from Nazi Germany, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said.

The Russian defense minister made this statement at a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vulin.

“In August, when you were in Moscow, I promised that by the time of this celebration the planes will arrive in Belgrade. The planes are now in Belgrade. I am sure that they will serve as a reliable shield and a guarantor of Serbia’s independence and security,” Shoigu said.

The six MiG-29 fighter jets have been delivered to Serbia by decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was reported earlier that the six MiG-29 fighters had flown from Russia to Serbia in early October.

Serbia is grateful to Russia for the transfer of six MiG-29 fighters, the Serbian defense minister said, stressing the importance of the agreement between the presidents of Russia and Serbia.

“Thanks to this, we can say that today we have a possibility to defend our sky,” Vulin told his Russian counterpart.

“I want to thank you personally, dear minister because I know how many efforts and much labor were needed to do all this. Thank you that today you are participating in this celebration together with us,” the Serbian defense minister said.
The six MiG-29 fighter jets arrived in Serbia in a group of two planes a day on October 2-4. Now they will undergo modernization that will be carried out in three stages and will cost Serbia 180-230 million euros.

In addition to the MiG-29 planes, Serbia will also receive 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 combat reconnaissance and patrol vehicles from Russia for free. The sides are also holding negotiations on Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 air defense missile systems and the Tunguska antiaircraft missile/gun complex.

T-72B3M (2016 model)

The Russian defense minister also noted that Russia and Serbia had big plans for military and military-technical cooperation.

“In accordance with the decisions by the presidents of Russia and Serbia, we have a large-scale program for both military and military-technical cooperation,” Shoigu said and suggested that he and Vulin should discuss further cooperation plans.






Clock ticking for Canada on Super Hornet offer

F/A-18F Super Hornet with a full compliment of fuel tanks. U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate 2nd Class Christopher L. Jordan.

The Canadian Press recently reported that the Trudeau government has until the end of the year to decide on an offer for Super Hornet fighter jets.

There is a formal offer on the table to sell 18 Boeing Super Hornets. But that is in limbo because of Boeing’s complaint about the Canadian government and the support it has provided to Bombardier for the development of the C-Series passenger aircraft.

The Trudeau government can ask for an extension, but there is no guarantee it will be granted, Canadian Press noted.

But industry officials tell Defence Watch there the Liberals don’t have much to worry about. Boeing is not going to turn down $6 billion in business if the Trudeau government decides to buy the aircraft.

The Trump administration is also not going to turn down an offer that would secure well-paying U.S. jobs at Boeing’s production facility.

Would there be a price increase? There could be a slight one but that could be offset by tougher bargaining on the part of the Canadian government, officials say.

Boeing, which has seen its reputation undermined in Canada because of the whole Bombardier issue, might be in a mood to provide even more favourable terms, they add.

Whether the Liberal government buys Super Hornets or simply delays the acquisition of aircraft until after the next election remains to be seen.

Inside the Royal Canadian Air Force there is the view that it makes sense to just go into a competition for a full-fleet replacement instead of buying “interim” Super Hornets.


Russian defense contractor developing new heavy helicopter prototype

Mi-28 and Mi-26T2V

Russian Helicopters Group will modernize the Mil Mi-26 helicopter for Russia’s Defense Ministry and is now developing a prototype of a new Mi-26T2V rotocraft, the company’s press office reported on Friday.

“On the basis of the design documentation developed by the Moscow Mil Helicopter Enterprise, Rostvertol Company is carrying out work to develop a prototype of a new Mi-26T2V helicopter with the subsequent flight trials,” the rotocraft manufacturer’s press office said.

Based on the customer’s requirements, the Mi-26T2V helicopter should be able to fly in any geographical region and any weather conditions. The number of the crewmembers of a modernized helicopter has remained unchanged and equals five men.

Valery Matytsin/TASS

“The new helicopter will embody the latest technical solutions considering its use in combat conditions. I want to note that the talk is about the upgrade of precisely the military version of the Mi-26 rather than the Mi-26T rotocraft, which is exported,” Russian Helicopters CEO Andrei Boginsky was quoted by the company’s press office as saying.

The upgraded Mi-26T2V helicopter will have a lifting capacity of 20 tonnes. The helicopter will be fitted out with modern NPK90-2 integrated onboard radio-electronic equipment and also with an onboard defensive aids system to protect the helicopter against missiles of various homing types.




The Finnish Utti Jaeger Regiment completed cross-agency training on Wednesday

On Wednesday 18 October 2017, the Finnish Defence Forces trained with the Police and the Finnish Border Guard off the coast of Helsinki in maritime conditions.

The Finnish Defence Forces, the Police and the Finnish Border Guard trained as part of inter-authority cooperation and executive assistance, onboard an Eckerö Line vessel. The vessel ran on its fixed commercial schedule and the shipping company informed it’s passengers of the exercise event.

Apart from the participating personnel, this exercise involved both the vessel and an NH-90 helicopter.

Finnish security authorities engage in training cooperation on a regular basis. Similar exercises have been organized with other shipping companies in the past.


US releases request for proposal for Heavy Polar Icebreaker design and construction

A model icebreaker demonstrates its maneuverability during a test at the National Research Council of Canada’s facility in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Photo: US Navy

Collaborating under an Integrated Program Office (IPO), the US Navy and Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the detail design and construction of a Heavy Polar Icebreaker (HPIB).

Released on October 19, the draft RFP is for one HPIB, with options for two additional HPIBs.

The USCG requires new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.

The draft RFP is for comments, questions, and planning purposes and is provided as an advance notice to ease proposal lead time and assist teaming arrangements, if applicable.

Responses to the draft RFP are due Dec. 11 and will support release of the final RFP early next year.

The Coast Guard plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019.

Release of the draft RFP represents the IPO’s latest effort to refine requirements and reduce acquisition costs for the HPIB procurement. Earlier this year the USCG awarded five firm-fixed price contracts for early design studies and analysis and conducted model testing with the National Research Council of Canada and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division.

The contracting agency is the Naval Sea Systems Command.


Lavrov attacks Norway, says relations on Svalbard should be better

Foreign ministers’ meeting in Arkhangelsk. Photo: Atle Staalesen

The Russian foreign minister accuses Norway of encroaching on Russian rights on the Arctic archipelago.

The setting was Barents Cooperation and cross-border interaction, but it was Arctic militarization and Norwegian policy at Svalbard which became the key issues in today’s press conference following the Barents Euro-Arctic Council meeting.

In what appeared as a well-prepared answer, the Russian foreign minister lashed out against his Norwegian counterpart.

Relations in Spitsbergen could clearly have been much more constructive, he underlined. Russian legitimate rights in the area are periodically being restricted, he added.

“The Russian MFA last year submitted two diplomatic notes about Svalbard to the Norwegian side, but no response has been made,” Lavrov complained.

“We have on several occasions called for dialogue over these issues, but the Norwegians do not respond. I believe this does not correspond with good neighbourly relations”, he underlined.

The statements come after newspaper Kommersant recently published a report shedding light on strategic document from the Russian Ministry of Defense allegedly highlighting the archipelago as a potential conflict area.

Barents foreign ministers. Photo: Atle Staalesen

Disagreement over Svalbard Treaty

According to Lavrov, Norway is illegitimately restricting Russian company Arktikugol and its flying with helicopters in the archipelago, and also the development of Russian research and tourism activities in the area.

He also complained about the local Norwegian tax regime, which reportedly does not allow the local Russians to spend collected taxes for their own purposes in Barentsburg, the Russian-dominated local settlement.

“We are talking about very concrete issues, about Russians in the area engaging in activities permitted by the Svalbard Treaty.”

The treaty from 1920 gives Norway full sovereignty over the archipelago, but signatory states are allowed to engage in economic activities. The Russians have since the early 1930s operated coal mines in the area and is currently in the process of building up local research and tourism facilities.

Norwegian sovereignty

“Norway is complying to every comma in the Svalbard Treaty,” Børge Brende responded. “This is a part of Norway and that should not be questioned,” he underlined.

Geographical location of Svalbard (dark green)

“But we are taking great effort to make Svalbard the best managed Arctic archipelago in the world, and that concerns also environment.”

Beyond that, the Norwegian foreign minister said he was not much interested in using the press conference to discuss Svalbard. The issue is highly sensitive. And it was Brende’s last day as foreign minister. After four years in the post, he now leaves Norway to become president in the World Economic Forum

Enhanced military presence in Finnmark

The Russian critical words against Norway did not stop with Svalbard. According to the Russian foreign minister, there are worries in Moscow also about Norway’s stronger military emphasis on Finnmark, the country’s northernmost region.

“Yes, we are of course concerned about the buildup of troops and the stronger role of Nato in the region,” Lavrov said.

“We see this as part of a carefully planned strategy directed against Russia.”

“Considering the fact that we are neighbours, we would have expected otherwise,” he underlined.

However, at the same time, earlier the same day, Lavrov praise the regional government of Finnmark for its friendly and cooperative approach to neighbouring Russia. Finnmark this week took over the chair of the Barents Regional Council, a cooperation body including the northern territories of Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden.


Operational capability of National Armed Forces has reached high level thanks to cooperation with US – chief of defense

Latvian soldiers during a training exercise. They carry the Heckler & Koch G36 Assault Rifle.

Thanks to cooperation with the US, special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, said Latvia’s Chief of Defense Leonids Kalnins during his meeting with commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command in Europe Kenneth Tovo.

The Latvian Defense Ministry reported that the officials discussed regional security issues, US support to Latvia under the Atlantic Resolve operation, and Latvian-US cooperation in military exercises.

“Special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, and it ha been done largely thanks to the excellent cooperation with the US.

Today’s challenges make us intensity development of special capabilities and deepen cooperation with the US. Highly qualified US specialists with huge experience in crisis regions offer significant contribution to the growth of the Latvian army.

Also, Latvian troops share their experience, therefore there are winners on both sides,” said Kalnins.
Tovo underscored that Latvia is a loyal NATO member state and a significant US ally. “Our troops shoulder by shoulder served in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Permanent presence of the US special troops in Latvia and the Baltic states since 2014 is a proof of our resolution to deter any aggression against our allies and the Alliance,” he said.