Tag: Defence

Exercise Aurora 17 Retrospective – U.S. Marines in Anti-Tank Exercise with Swedish Armored Brigade [VIDEO]

Rocket Power Practice: Marines fire off a simulated rocket-propelled grenade round during Exercise Aurora 17 in Lärbro, Sweden, Sept. 21, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Marcin Platek.

In order to increase military capabilities, the Swedish Armed Forces conducted Exercise Aurora 17 in September. It was a  national exercise that built a stronger defence and increased the overall capability of the armed forces in the face of an attack on Sweden.

The overarching mission of the Swedish Armed Forces is to defend the country´s interests, our freedom and the right to live as a free and democratic people.

Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defence, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges. It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country. For a deterrent to be effective, it needs to be credible and visible. Through frequent and extensive training and exercise, especially with other defence forces, Sweden is strengthening its deterrence effect and increases our defensive capabilities.

Aurora 17 was conducted in the air, on land and at sea. Units from all over Sweden were involved, but the main exercise areas were the Mälardalen and Stockholm areas, on and around Gotland, and the Gothenburg area.

The Exercise contributed to the development of Sweden’s total defence capabilities. 40 other agencies will participated in the exercise. In addition, in order to have as good an exercise as possible, and at the same time exercise Sweden’s defence capability against a larger, sophisticated opponent, other countries have been invited to participate in Aurora 17. This video demonstrates that concept with the United States Marine Corps acting as the ‘opponents’ using Russian RPGs in a simulated anti-tank attack exercise against Swedish ‘Blue’ forces.


Estonian president discusses migration, digital issues with Italian colleague

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Monday met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella who hosted a lunch in honor of the Estonian head of state in Rome, during which the presidents discussed the migration crisis, opportunities of the digital society and the future of the European Union.

“The fact that hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa arrive in Italy every year — and for many years in a row — is not Italy’s problem. It is a problem of the whole of Europe and so all of us hold the key to solving the problem. As Italian fighters will protect our airspace in Amari next year, we must also understand joint concerns that are to the south of us. An not only understand them, but also contribute to solving them,” the president said after the meeting.

The heads of state at the meeting focused on discussing the opportunities of the digital society and questions concerning cyber security. Kaljulaid said that many modern dangers do not depend on geography.

“Those risks are similar in Rome and Tallinn and this is why cooperation between countries is important, a good example of which is the participation of Italy in the work of our NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn since its launch,” the president said.

Speaking about the future of the European Union, Kaljulaid first and foremost considered it important that the member states remain united in important questions. “This is our — Estonia’s, and in reality the whole of EU’s — strategic interest. Europe is faced with a number of challenges, but no member state can solve a big problem alone better than together,” Kaljulaid said.

The president on Monday evening will open an exhibition at the Italian National Gallery of Modern Art that will feature the works of Estonian painter Konrad Magi. Kaljulaid on Tuesday will visit three schools in Rome and gift them with reproductions of Magi’s painting “Landscape of Italy. Rome.”


Polish, British foreign affairs and defence ministers to convene in London

Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski, his British counterpart Boris Johnson, alongside Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz and his opposite number Michael Fallon are to meet in London on Thursday.

The meeting, which marks the sixth such event held within the format since it was first launched in 2010, is a follow-up on a gathering of the four officials held in Edinburgh in January.

The officials are likely to touch on post-Brexit collaboration within the framework of multinational organisations, including the United Nations Security Council and NATO, the PAP news agency reports. The ministers may also discuss security issues alongside the presence of British soldiers on Polish soil.

The second despatch of 150 British troops from the Light Dragoons reconnaissance regiment from Catterick is currently on its way to Poland and will begin their mission as part of NATO’s multinational forces mid-October.

According to PAP, another topic likely to be debated on Thursday is the future Polish-British bilateral defence treaty. In September, British Deputy Defence Minister Mark Lancaster announced that the pact would be signed this year.

The bilateral talks in London come ahead of the 21 December Polish-British cross-governmental consultations in Warsaw, an event to be attended by Prime Ministers Beata Szydło and Theresa May, along with other top officials. (aba)

Source: PAP


Russian Navy to receive navalized Pantsir-ME weapon system soon

Photo: KBP

The Russian Navy will soon receive the first batch of the Pantsir-ME naval missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon systems, the weapon manufacturer said recently.

Alexander Denisov, general director of the High Precision Complex holding company, which includes Pantsir-ME manufacturer KBP, told journalists in late September that the system would be soon put into service with the Russian Navy without providing specific timelines.

Russia intends to equip its large surface combatants, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, with this system which includes protection against low-flying and small-size unmanned aerial vehicles.

Pantsir-ME is being procured to replace the obsolete 3М87 Kortik (Dirk) close-in weapons system.

Pantsir-ME combines artillery armament, a multimode missile armament and an integrated radar-optical armament control system in a single turret mount.

The control system features a multifunction radar station with a phased antenna radar and allows for a simultaneous engagement of 4 targets at a time.

Ships operating the system will be able to first open fire on a target with missiles and then, if the target still breaks through, use artillery to neutralize it.

Missiles fitted on the system have a range of 20 kilometers in length and 15 kilometers in height. Maximum artillery range is 400 meters. The system will also be capable of fielding the Hermes-K guided missile.

KBP, the system manufacturer, says the system can be installed on ships displacing over 300 tonnes.


Will Canada eventually purchase Asterix as its third supply ship?

The Department of National Defence has confirmed that a third Joint Support Ship will not be built. There is not enough money, according to DND.

The third JSS was always an option but only if there was enough funding.

The DND insists that two JSS are enough. “The fleet size of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants, complemented by two Joint Support Ships, and four Victoria-class submarines provides the necessary fleet mix and capacity to deploy forces responsively, prepare follow-on forces effectively, and conduct maintenance efficiently,” the department noted in an email.

This statement, however, doesn’t take into account when one of the JSS goes into dock for maintenance, either regular or, later on, a longer term refit.

The Royal Canadian Navy will have for at least the next five years, if not longer, the Asterix (pictured above in a photo provided by Davie). That ship, operated by Federal Fleet Services, and leased to the Canadian government, will provide refueling and resupply to warships at sea.

There is also a clause in the contract that would allow Canada to eventually purchase the vessel (No details have been made public on the cost to buy the ship).

But with a third JSS now off the table, will an Asterix purchase look tempting in the next five years, particularly if it is offered at a good price?


Why Swedish troops just finished their biggest war games in 23 years

Sweden’s primary combat jet fighter the Saab JAS-39 Gripen

With concerns growing about Russia, Sweden is placing a renewed focus on its own military capabilities.

EARLIER this month Apache attack helicopters began arriving on Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic sea some 350km (220 miles) from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

They came to participate in Aurora-17, the biggest Swedish military exercise in more than 20 years. It involved 19 days of manoeuvres by the country’s air force, navy and army, with seven members of NATO, plus Finland, also taking part.

The drill cost $73m, which might seem lavish given that General Micael Byden, the supreme commander of Sweden’s armed forces, complained earlier this year that his troops were seriously underfunded and understaffed. What was the rationale for this show of defensive capability?

The one-word answer would be: Russia. Sweden has had a long, often uneasy relationship with its near-neighbour. In the early 18th century the Great Northern War saw Russia supplant Sweden as the primary Baltic power after an unsuccessful invasion by the Swedes.

The famous death match of Karl XII to take the dead king home from the war.

After Russia had captured Finland from Sweden in 1809, the Finnish capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki to reduce the risk of a Swedish invasion. Over the years relations recovered, but during Vladimir Putin’s presidency in Russia, they have worsened.

Four years ago Russian aeroplanes carried out a dummy nuclear attack on Swedish targets. In 2014 a Russian submarine entered the Stockholm archipelago and departed without being found. Russian fighter planes have also violated Swedish airspace. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Swedish authorities decided that the threat from Russia had diminished. They are now reconsidering.

Tupolev Tu-22M3 Bombers conducted a ‘dummy’ nuclear strike against Sweden

Peter Hultqvist, the Swedish defence minister, cites the “deterioration of the security situation in Europe” (Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea spring to mind) as the reason for the Aurora-17 exercise.

The official military explanation is that the show of force is “an important signal to those in the region that we are prepared to defend Sweden”. In all the information provided by both the army and the Swedish government about the exercise, no actual mention was made of Russia.

But Gotland’s mid-Baltic location is of particular relevance to considerations of how to defend against a putative Russian attack. The exercise also coincided with Zapad-17, a much larger exercise run by Russia and Belarus—and Russia is moving troops into Belarus.


Sweden has been studiously neutral for two centuries and is not a NATO member, though debate on that topic is growing.

Aurora-17 has been portrayed as a domestic exercise whose foreign participants were invited under bilateral agreements, not as NATO members. But as relations with Russia deteriorate, Swedish co-operation with NATO is increasing.

Stridsvagn 122 bataljon

The invitation to members of NATO to join Aurora-17 has aligned Sweden even more closely with the alliance, and in the event of war it would be expected to support NATO. The Swedish government listened to Mr Byden and increased the military budget for 2018 by the equivalent of $331m.

Conscription is being reintroduced next year. Such moves send a signal to Moscow, which would view Swedish accession to NATO as a challenge. Retaliatory threats are a possibility.


Defense ministers of NATO countries whose troops make up multinational battalion in Latvia to visit Adazi this week


Adazi military base

A ceremonious event marking combat readiness of the Canada-led NATO battalion in Latvia will take place at the Adazi military base on September 28, which will be attended by defense ministers and representatives of the defense ministries of the countries whose troops make up the NATO battalion in Latvia, the Defense Ministry told LETA.

Participating in the event will be Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers), Canadian National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Albanian Deputy Defense Minister Petro Koci, Italian defense minister’s advisor Carlo Massagli, Polish National Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, Slovenian Defense Minister Andreja Katic, Spanish Defense Ministry’s Secretary General for Defense Policy Juan Francisco Martinez Nunez, and Latvian Chief of Defense Leonids Kalnins.

Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canadian Minister of National Defence.

During the visit to the Adazi military base, the NATO officials will meet with the soldiers, inspect military vehicles and infrastructure at the military base, and visit a memorial to Latvian soldiers who lost their lives during international operations.

As reported, the Canada-led thousand-strong battalion in Latvia is made up of Albanian, Italian, Canadian, Polish, Slovenian and Spanish soldiers.

NATO has also deployed a multinational battalion to Estonia, Lithuania and Poland each.


Trudeau and Poroshenko Moving Forward towards an agreement on arms sales to Ukraine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is “moving forward” on changes to regulations that will allow the sale of automatic weapons and heavier military equipment to Ukraine, where Russian-backed fighters are in the midst of a conflict in the country’s east.

Speaking alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Toronto on Friday, Trudeau said Canada is considering adding Ukraine to a list of allies that are eligible for exports of heavy weapons, in the first official indication that the Liberal government is considering advanced military exports to the ex-soviet state.

“Absolutely,” Trudeau said in response to a question from VICE News on a potential shift in arms control plans. “We very much looking at the AFCCL [Automatic Firearms Country Control List] mechanism, that’s something we’re moving forward on.”

Trudeau did not directly respond to a question from VICE News about whether there were human rights concerns over allowing heavy weapons exports to Ukraine.
Human Rights Watch blasted Kyiv last week for the torture of a Ukrainian citizen, allegedly at the hands of that country’s secret service.

“There is a process in place and a series of criteria that have to be reached but it is something we’re working on,” Trudeau said of future arms deals. Countries on the list are generally allies of Canada with relatively good human rights records.
“We continue to stand with Ukraine against the illegal and illegitimate incursion by Russia into Ukrainian territory,” Trudeau said. Ukraine has done a “very strong job” in advancing reforms, he added.

Poroshenko, for his part, lauded Canada’s past, non-lethal, aid to Ukraine. He said Canada could provide insight on peacekeeping operations in its occupied regions, as there is presently a “unique chance” for a lasting ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
Canada has, thus far, only provided non-lethal aid and training to the Ukrainian military. Ottawa initially provided advanced satellite imagery to Kyiv of the occupied territory in Eastern Ukraine, but cut off that cooperation over fears Ukraine was using the intelligence to conduct attacks.

Under Canadian export law, arms manufacturers can only export certain types of weaponry — including fully automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines — to countries on the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. There are currently 39 countries on that list, and Ukraine isn’t one of them.

In July 2015, the Conservative government asked for input on adding Ukraine to that list. They were defeated voted out of office that October, and the idea appeared to have been shelved.

This past April, however, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak, to sign a mutual defence cooperation agreement. That deal will pave the way for more cooperation when it comes to “defence policy; defence research, development, and production; and military education,” according to a Canadian government statement.
As it stands, Canada is sending little in terms of weaponry to Kyiv.

Data from 2016 shows Canada approved just eight permits for weapons exports to Ukraine, for a total value of just over $160,000 — mostly for small arms. One permit application to ship firearms was denied that year, with Ottawa citing “regional conflict” as the reason.

The two leaders met amid conversations about the future of eastern Ukraine, which has seen renewed fighting in recent weeks.

Poroshenko is in town to cheer for Ukraine’s team in the Invictus Games, a sports competition for wounded veterans.
The Ukranian leader said he is open to the idea of having UN peacekeepers patrolling the Donetsk region, parts of which remain under occupation by Moscow-backed rebels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to support that prospect earlier this month. “I believe that the presence of UN peacekeepers… is quite appropriate and I do not see anything wrong with that,”

Putin said during a visit to China. “On the contrary, I believe that this would help resolve the situation in southeastern Ukraine.”
While Ottawa continues to consider increased arms sales, the White House announced this week it would forge closer defence ties between the United States and Ukraine.

Previously, President Barack Obama had vetoed lethal aid to Ukraine. Trump, however, signalled on Wednesday that military aid was back on the table for Kyiv.



Estonian, Finnish Defence Ministers speak about Zapad, defense cooperation

TALLINN, Sep 13, BNS – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto during their meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday discussed defense cooperation and matters related to the Zapad joint large scale military exercise of Russia and Belarus.

Luik and Niinisto talked about the regional security situation in view of the Zapad large scale exercise and bilateral defense cooperation, spokespeople for the Estonian Defense Ministry said.

Also discussed was defense cooperation within the European Union, which has been supported also by Finland.

During an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Tallinn last week, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the Estonian minister of defense both expressed hope that important decisions concerning EU defense cooperation will be reached already by the end of this year.

Finland is positively minded about EU defense cooperation and is waiting for practical solutions.

Luik also visited the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki and laid wreaths to honor fallen soldiers.


Exercise Aurora 17 Nordic Strategic Strength on Show

Svenska Stridsvagn 122 bataljon

In order to increase military capabilities, Swedish Armed Forces will conduct Exercise Aurora 17 – a national exercise that will build a stronger defence and increase the overall capability to face an attack on Sweden.

The overarching mission of the Swedish Armed Forces is to defend the country´s interests, our freedom and the right to live the way of our choice.

Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defence, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges. It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country.

For a deterrent to be effective, it needs to be credible and visible. Through frequent and extensive training and exercise, especially with other defence forces, Sweden is strengthening its deterrence effect and makes it more credible.

Aurora 17 will be conducted in the air, on land and at sea. Units from all over Sweden will be involved, but the main exercise areas will be the Mälardalen and Stockholm areas, on and around Gotland, and the Gothenburg area.


The Exercise will contribute to the development of Sweden’s total defence capabilities. Therefore, it is planned that around 40 other agencies will participate.

In addition, in order to have as good an exercise as possible, and at the same time exercise Sweden’s defence capability against a larger, sophisticated opponent, other countries have been invited to participate in Aurora 17.



NATO fighters to perform training flights in Estonian air space Today

A Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent) General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon

F-16 fighter aircraft flown by pilots of the Belgian Air Component stationed at the Amari air base are to carry out training flights above Estonia today.

The aircraft are to fly over Estonia in areas of low-altitude flights and will do so at an altitude of at least 152 meters and preferably away from populated areas, headquarters of the Estonian defense forces told BNS.

NATO member states allocate specific areas of their air space for the training and exercises of the air force, including low-altitude flights. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also allocated specific regions of their air space for carrying out low-altitude flights. The flights are performed in agreement with the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration and the air traffic service.

According to a decision of NATO, air forces of NATO member states based on rotation participate in the air policing mission of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air space since March 2004, when the Baltic countries joined the NATO.

The Baltic air policing mission is part of the NATO Smart Defense concept, the aim of which is to save the resources of the member states of the alliance by contributing together to different capabilities.

A contingent of the Belgian Air Force on September 5 took over the Baltic air policing mission from the Spanish Air Force. At present the Baltic air policing mission is led by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania, and the Belgian F-16s in Amari, Estonia.