Tag: Australia

Canada takes first official step to buying used fighter jets from Australia

Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets.

Canada has taken the first official step to purchasing used fighter jets from Australia as it’s dispute with Boeing continues unresolved.

The Canadian government has now submitted a formal expression of interest to Australia to acquire the aircraft, Public Services and Procurement Canada confirmed.

Canada began discussions in late August with the Australian government to assess the potential purchase of used F/A-18 fighter aircraft from that country.

“On Sept. 29, 2017, Canada submitted an expression of interest, formally marking Canada’s interest in the Australian equipment,” Public Services and Procurement Canada announced in a new statement. “Canada expects to receive a response by the end of this year that will provide details regarding the availability and cost of the aircraft and associated parts that Canada is considering.”

The Australian jets are being considered as interim fighters. They would supplement Canada’s existing CF-18 fleet until a new aircraft could be acquired.

The move to try to acquire fighter jets from Australia coincides with the U.S. government’s decision, based on a Boeing complaint, to hit Bombardier with almost 300 per cent duties on its CSeries civilian passenger jet.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to bring up the Boeing complaint and duties with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The Liberal government had wanted to buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets but that plan was derailed when the jet’s manufacturer, Boeing, filed the trade complaint in April against Bombardier of Quebec over its civilian passenger jets.

Boeing complained to the U.S. government that Bombardier was receiving subsidies, which in turn allowed it to sell its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft at below-market prices.

The U.S. ruled in favour of the American aerospace giant and as a result, Bombardier will face duties of almost 300 per cent.

That move by Boeing, however, scuttled the Super Hornet deal and prompted Canada to look elsewhere for jets.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan recently said that Canada has looked at surplus fighter jets from Kuwait but those are not available at this time. He acknowledged Canada is now focused on the Australian jets.

“We are going to be moving ahead with filling that capability gap,” Sajjan noted. “We are pursuing other options.”
The Liberals have said they will eventually buy 88 new jets to replace the CF-18s.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s.

Trudeau has said Boeing can forget about selling fighter jets to Canada as long as it tries to undercut thousands of Canadian jobs with its ongoing trade complaint against a Quebec aerospace firm.

“We won’t do business with a company that is busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business,” Trudeau said.

Boeing’s complaint has also drawn the ire of the government in the United Kingdom.
Parts of the C-Series are built in Northern Ireland.

The U.K.’s prime minister, Theresa May, has raised the issue with Trump. She has also warned that Boeing’s actions are jeopardizing future defence contracts with the U.K.

Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, has said the company wanted to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace industry. He said Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules. That wasn’t the case for Bombardier, he added.

Boeing on Tuesday launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the company’s presence and annual impact on the nation’s economy.

Boeing’s critics point out it receives billions of dollars of subsidies from the U.S. government. Boeing is trying to undercut Bombardier, a potential competitor, Canadian government and industry officials say.


Australia trying to figure out who stole F-35 data

U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II

Australia is trying to determine who is behind what has been called an extensive hack of sensitive defence information.

About 30GB of data was compromised in the hack on a government contractor, the BBC and other news outlets have reported. That information included commercially sensitive data on Australia’s F-35 program. Data on P-8 Poseidon aircraft and C-130 transport aircraft was also compromised. Naval data was also included in the hack.

“It could be one of a number of different actors,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp “It could be a state actor, (or) a non-state actor. It could be someone who was working for another company.”

He said the information was not classified.

Australia’s special advisor on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, said there are a number of ways the breach could have taken place. “Unfortunately, there are a range of ways that the attacker could have got in, including default passwords on certain key parts of the IT infrastructure of the target company,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The target of the hack was an aerospace firm with about 50 employees.


Australian Army unit trains with Canadian Rangers

Ten members of Australia’s North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) are in Canada to take part in Exercise NORTHERN LIGHTS. The exercise started October 5 and runs until Oct. 21.

The exercise, hosted by the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, is a reciprocal training event where the two army units share best practices, training methods, procedures, and cultural aspects unique to both units.

The 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group has participated in training with NORFORCE since 2011. The last time the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group hosted the Australians on Canadian soil was during Exercise NORTHERN LIGHTS in October of 2015.

Training involves:

o   Cold weather training, mobility training and cultural experiences in Churchill, Manitoba;

o   Equine mobility training in Quesnel, British Columbia;

o   Wilderness survival training in Port Hardy, British Columbia; and

o   Watermanship training on the west coast of Vancouver Island to include the Royal Canadian Navy’s Maritime Tactical Operations Group.

The 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group has over 1,000 Canadian Rangers covering a geographical area that includes northern and isolated areas of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Canadian Rangers are a subcomponent of the Canadian Army Reserve Force. Currently, there are about 5,000 Canadian Rangers organized into five Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups, spanning more than 400 communities across Canada.



Defence Minister: Canada looked at Kuwaiti F-18s but Australian aircraft the ones being considered

Royal Australian Air Force FA-18A

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada has examined the potential that Kuwait could have surplus F-18s for sale to fill the capability gap the RCAF is dealing with.

But the main drawback is that the aircraft are not available at this time, he told journalists Thursday.

Instead, Sajjan indicated that the focus is mainly on surplus Australian F-18s for interim aircraft. “As you know, we are pursuing the options with the Australians at this time,” he said.


President Trump Unveils New Afghanistan, South Asia Strategy

President Donald J. Trump unveiled an expansive new strategy for South Asia aimed at bolstering American security.

The new strategy encompasses Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Central Asian nations and extends into Southeast Asia. He stressed the strategy will not have artificial timelines built into it.

Trump spoke before a crowd of hundreds of service members at Conmy Hall at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Trump said the American people are frustrated by the nation’s longest war in Afghanistan, calling it a war without victory. The new strategy, he said, is a path toward victory and will step away from a policy of nation building.

The new strategy, Trump said, is a result of a study he ordered immediately after he was inaugurated in January. The strategy is based on three precepts.

“First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives,” Trump said. “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”

No Hasty Exit

Trump said the second precept is that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would simply allow terrorists to flood back into that country and begin planning attacks on America and its allies and partners.

The third precept, he said, concerns the threats emanating from the region, which are immense and must be confronted.

“Today, 20 U.S-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world,” the president said. “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.”

The United States and its allies and partners are committed to defeating these terrorist groups, Trump said.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next,” he said. “They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers.”

Trump added, “Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and, yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.”

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States will work to stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, Trump said.

“And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter,” he said.

Conditions-Based Strategy

Trump emphasized the strategy will be conditions based and not set to a timetable. “I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options,” the president said. “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.”

Trump said the new strategy will involve all aspects of American power, employing diplomacy, economic might, intelligence and military power to advance American interests and ensure the safety of the homeland and American allies and partners.

The United States, he added, will continue to support the Afghan government and its military.

“Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society and to achieve an everlasting peace,” Trump said. “We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Trump said Pakistan is a major concern, and he said Pakistan must stop providing safe havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” the president said. “It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

Pakistan Must Change

Trump noted that Pakistan has worked with the United States in the past, but the nation’s policies must change.

“No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,” Trump said. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.”

Trump said India will be a key component in any strategy in the region, and the president wants to work with India’s leaders to provide more economic assistance and targeted development to the people of Afghanistan.

“We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

The president pledged that service members will have the rules of engagement they need to take swift, decisive actions. “I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy,” he said. “Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They’re won in the field, drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders, and front-line soldiers, acting in real time with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.”

‘Victory Will Have a Clear Definition’

The president described what he believes victory will look like. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,” he said.

NATO allies and global partners like Australia will support the new strategy and have already pledged additional troops and funding increases, the president said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he has directed Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to prepare to carry out the president’s strategy. “I will be in consultation with the secretary general of NATO and our allies — several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers,” Mattis said in a written statement. “Together, we will assist the Afghan security forces to destroy the terrorist hub.”

The president concluded his speech speaking directly to service members in the hall and around the world.

“With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that of your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace,” Trump said. “We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.”



Marines to order 24-hour stand-downs for flying units in wake of fatal crashes

Marines prepare to board MV-22 Ospreys on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island off the coast of Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Feb. 23, 2015. The Marine Corps announced Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, that all its aviation units must cease flying for a 24-hour period within the next two weeks to review safety procedures, following two recent crashes that killed 19 servicemembers.

WASHINGTON —  Marine Corps aviation units must cease flying for a 24-hour period within the next two weeks to review safety procedures following two recent Marine crashes that killed 19 troops, the service’s top general ordered Friday.

Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, has ordered aviators to review “the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness” during the “operational reset,” said Capt. Ryan Alvis, a spokeswoman for the Corps.

“The intent is for flying squadrons to review selected incidents which occurred enterprise-wide and study historical examples of completed investigations in order to bring awareness and best practices to the fleet,” she said.

Unit commanders will determine when to conduct the stand-downs. Neller’s order instructed commanders to conduct the pause when it will not interrupt training or combat operations.

Fifteen Marines and a sailor were killed in the July 10 crash of a KC-130T tanker-transport aircraft into the Mississippi Delta. Three additional Marines died Saturday in the crash of an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft just off the coast of Australia.

The Marines on Wednesday announced they had determined the Ospreys were safe to fly following inspections and a preliminary investigation into Saturday’s crash. In that incident, the Osprey crashed into the deck of the USS Green Bay as it was landing on the amphibious transport dock before crashing into the ocean about 18 miles off the coast of Queensland.

The three Marines killed are believed to have been trapped inside the aircraft as it sank, officials said. Twenty-three others aboard the aircraft were rescued.

In the July crash, the KC-130T appears to have broken up in mid-air before it crashed to the ground leaving two debris trails each stretching more than a mile long, an initial investigation found. All of the personnel aboard the plane were killed.

The Marines grounded its entire fleet of 12 KC-130T aircraft following the incident.
Safety stand-downs of individual airframes or for particular units are not uncommon.

Last August, the Marines ordered a similar stand-down for all F/A-18 Hornets aircraft following several crashes of the fighter jets. The Marines also temporarily grounded AV-8B Harrier and Osprey aircraft in Japan last year following non-fatal wrecks.




Royal Navy Merlins complete five-month stint aboard FS Mistral

FS Mistral, French Navy Landing Helicopter Dock Ship

A group of Royal Navy sailors and marines together with two Royal Navy Merlin Mk3 helicopters spent the past five months deployed aboard the French helicopter carrier FS Mistral during its Jeanne D’Arc mission.

FS Mistral, together with frigate FS Courbet, embarked Royal Navy personnel in March for a deployment that took the force as far east as Japan and Guam, as far south as the northern coast of Australia, with visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

Commenting on the deployment, UK’s armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said: “From fighting Daesh in the Middle East to jointly operating in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, our enduring defence partnership with France is stronger than ever as we work together to tackle global threats.

This deployment has demonstrated the ability of our world class Royal Navy and Royal Marines to operate alongside our French allies and international partners as Britain delivers on its commitment to global maritime security.”

Merlin Mk3 of the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), landing on the FS Mistral LHD Ship

Throughout the deployment, UK personnel worked closely with international partners to strengthen defence cooperation in the region. British troops participated in the first ever four-part maritime exercise involving France, Japan, the UK and US, where as part of a week-long practice assault, the two Merlins moved 330 troops from the four nations to and from the island of Tinian.

UK troops also met with the Vietnam People’s Navy in Ho Chi Minh City to compare national maritime operating procedures and exchange experiences, and during a port call to Egypt, British forces took part in a cross-decking exercise alongside French and Egyptian Armed Forces.


USS Ronald Reagan set to dock in Brisbane

A flagship American aircraft carrier is set to dock in Brisbane on Sunday and give its crew of thousands a chance to explore the Queensland capital.

The USS Ronald Reagan – which is 333m long and houses more than 3000 sailors – is expected to dock at the Port of Brisbane about 10:30am.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2003, is visiting the river city as part of this year’s Talisman Sabre war games.

This year’s event also appeared to draw the interest of Chinese military forces, after a spy ship was spotted “in the vicinity” of the activities.

“The Chinese vessel has remained outside Australian territorial waters but inside the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea,” a defence department statement said on Saturday.

“The vessel’s presence has not detracted from the exercise objectives.”

This year’s event, which is the seventh of its kind, is scheduled to run until late July, with the majority of the training exercises to take place in near Rockhampton.

Source: 9 News.


Chinese Navy spy ship rattles Talisman Sabre war games off Queensland coast

A high-tech Chinese spy ship has been spotted off the Queensland coast monitoring joint military exercises between Australia and the United States, in what Defence officials have described as an “unfriendly” and “provocative” act.

The ABC can reveal the Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI) vessel from the People’s Liberation Army was sighted by the Defence Force in international waters during this month’s Talisman Sabre war games.

The Type 851 Dongdiao-class AGI vessel is fitted with advanced communications systems designed to eavesdrop on other militaries.

“The Chinese vessel has remained outside Australian territorial waters but inside the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea,” the department said.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre is currently taking place in the vicinity. The vessel’s presence has not detracted from the exercise objectives,” it added.
Euan Graham from the Lowy Institute said the deployment of the vessel was an alarming development.

Type 851 DongDiao-class Surveillance Vesel PLAN. AGM AGI.

“I’m personally not aware of any publicised appearance of an AGI off the Australian coast before,” he said.

“Coinciding with the joint exercise with the United States — clearly that sends quite an unfriendly message.”

Senior Australian military figures also told the ABC China’s actions were provocative and sent an unfriendly message.

“At the moment what we see is a double standard where China picks the areas of the Law of the Sea that it likes and refuses to implement those that it doesn’t,” Dr Graham argued.

“I think it can only expect that to come back as a message in force from Australia and other countries.”

The Defence Department said Australia respects the rights of all states to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters in accordance with international law.

Just days ago the Defence Force hosted a senior Chinese PLA General in Australia on a so-called “goodwill” visit.

During the trip, General Wei Liang “exchanged views on regional security issues” including the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Source: The New Daily.

Alaska-based Bushmasters trade extreme cold for Australia’s tropical heat

Soldiers from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division prepare to air assault into battle during Talisman Saber drills at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Australia, Sunday, July 16, 2017. MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING AREA, Australia — One hundred and fifty U.S. troops more accustomed to training in Alaska’s extreme cold found themselves trudging Down Under in the tropical heat this week.

The Bushmaster Company, part of the Fort Wainwright-based 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, are in Australia for the monthlong, biennial Talisman Saber drills. More than 33,000 Australian and American troops are participating in the exercise, which has an imaginary foe with capabilities that mirror those of major military powers such as China and Russia.

“Everything’s cold-weather based in Alaska; here it’s totally different. It’s a 180-degree change,” 1st Lt. John Hannon, the company’s executive officer, said during a recent march at Queensland’s rugged Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

The unit usually moves across the battlefield in Stryker armored personnel carriers but didn’t bring the vehicles to Australia, Hannon said.

“We will air assault into the battlefield and block a main avenue of approach,” the 27-year-old Bronx, N.Y.-native said of the training.

Soldiers from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division protect a landing zone during Talisman Saber 2017 at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Australia, Sunday, July 16, 2017.

During downtime, the Alaska-based troops took photographs of wallabies — smaller versions of kangaroos — and steered clear of deadly snakes and spiders they encountered in the field.

Part of the training involved hitching rides in New Zealand army trucks and Australian Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles. However, the drivers took their time to avoid booby traps placed by opposing forces.

Senior Airman Gilbert Garza, 26, of Houston, a tactical air controller from the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron who was attached to the company, stayed upbeat during the slow drive through the bush. Spending time with Australian “truckies” made him appreciate the help of his allied partners, he said.

“It’s good to build that coalition bond. They have their methods [of doing things]. You show them ours and see what jives,” he said.

Sgt. Nicholas Dugger, a forward observer from 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery attached to the company said he felt “patriotic,” about working with the Australians.

“It’s really cool to see how their army operates … and how they [learn] things from us,” the 25-year-old from Fort Wainwright said. “They do a pretty solid job.”

After the truck ride, the U.S. troops loaded into U.S., Australian and New Zealand helicopters and flew into a landing zone that was soon under attack from an opposing force armed with light armored vehicles and cannons.

Garza coordinated air support, and within minutes AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were blasting away at the enemy vehicles.

“You feel like you’re in a movie — there’s literally nothing like being an infantryman,” said one of the Bushmaster soldiers, Pfc. Carmen Volpe, 25, of Albany, N.Y.

After Talisman Saber winds up, the Bushmasters will head to Thailand and then Japan for further training, Hannon said.

Source: Stars and Stripes.

US and Australia test hypersonic missiles that fly at a mile a second

A successful hypersonic test flight took place in South Australia last week amid US concerns about China and Russia’s hypersonic weapons capabilities.

The US has been testing hypersonic aircraft missiles that could fly at a mile per second.

It has collaborated with Australia to research and pilot weapons able to fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound – anywhere from 3,836mph up to 7,700 mph.

The latest phase of the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation  (HiFIRE) programme included at least one successful hypersonic flight at Woomera testing range in South Australia.

 The round of experiments concluded on 12 July, confirmed Australian defence minister Marise Payne.

BAE Systems Australia said in a statement that “the successful flight trial [was] the most complex of all HIFiRE flights conducted to date”.

The $54m joint initiative involves the US Air Force, Boeing, the Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Group, BAE Systems Australia, and the University of Queensland.

Both Russia and China are building hypersonic glide vehicles, US Air Force General John Hyten recently told a Senate hearing, according to The Washington Examiner.

US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, told a Congress hearing in May: “I’m concerned about Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons development, and I expressed those concerns in the right places. What we can do is to develop our own hypersonic weapons and improve our defenses against theirs.”

A hypersonic missile could fly 1000 miles in less than 17 minutes. Though many ballistic missiles can fly faster, the typical arc trajectory of such missiles makes them more easily detectable by early warning satellites, according to The Drive. The Pentagon has developed ballistic missile interceptors able to knock such weapons off-course mid-flight, and so mitigate their threat.

But hypersonic weapons are much less easy to track. Prototype designs rely on a booster such as a rocket motor to get the craft up to speed, before a high-speed jet engine takes over. Its smooth and flat flight path is much harder to track than that of a ballistic missile. These prototype crafts may also have the capability to change direction mid-flight, which makes interception much harder.

Developing a hypersonic missile system would enable the US to conduct short-notice or no-notice enemy strikes, the capability for which is a powerful deterrent alone.

The HiFIRE project, which initially included NASA, launched more than eight years ago.

Source: The Independent.