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6 octobre 2011 4 06 /10 /octobre /2011 16:30

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/BE8D3F70-2A58-4F7D-BCDD-0DE3A121C11B/0/VC10.jpg

An RAF VC10 refuelling fighter aircraft - Picture: MOD

 

6 Oct 11 UK MoD - A Military Operations news article

 

The RAF conducted numerous missions across southern Afghanistan in the week of 26 September to 2 October 2011. Here follows an operational update.

 

Attack

 

The Kandahar-based Reapers of 39 Squadron were engaged in operations that again necessitated Hellfire missile strikes. Displaying considerable tactical restraint, the Reaper crews successfully countered the insurgents' best efforts to seek cover among civilians and along tree lines.

 

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/C607A37B-EB12-4698-B8DA-B96ACF8A5B6B/0/Reaper.jpg

Reaper aircraft coming in to land at Kandahar Airfield - Picture: MOD

 

In addition, they provided almost 300 hours of detailed video imagery and other reconnaissance, all contributing to the improving security situation and protecting the populace in the area.

 

Air mobility and lift

 

The VC10 aircraft of 101 Squadron, detached to 902 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), continue to provide direct support to an array of coalition fast jets, with their twin-hose configuration being used to great effect to deliver 120 tonnes of fuel.

 

This takes the total fuel delivered for September 2011 to 386 tonnes, a capability which enabled coalition fast jets to remain on task for extended periods.

 

On one mission, two pairs of coalition aircraft took turns to receive fuel while the other provided close air support, thereby ensuring that the troops engaged by insurgents had the best cover possible.

 

Intelligence and situational awareness

 

The Tornado GR4s of 31 Squadron, operating alongside 903 EAW at Kandahar Airfield, continue to provide a highly influential presence in Afghanistan.

 

They conducted ten shows of force across the breadth of southern Afghanistan from Regional Command [RC] (West) to RC (East), not only in support of UK troops but also coalition partners, including American and Italian units.

 

The imagery capabilities provided by the GR4's RAPTOR and Litening III pods continue to be used to survey patrol routes and helicopter landing sites in the south west of the country.

 

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6B5380CE-9A46-4DFC-8067-F59C0197A695/0/Mk7SeaKing.jpg

A Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control helicopter in Afghanistan - Picture: Corporal Mike Jones, MOD

 

The Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control (SKASaC) helicopters, operating from 903 EAW's base at Camp Bastion, have been pivotal in the successful detention of key insurgents in Helmand province.

 

Whilst supporting the US Marines of the 2nd Light Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion (2nd LAR), one SKASaC helicopter crew detected and tracked a suspicious vehicle using their cutting-edge ground moving target indication radar.

 

By sharing their information with other coalition reconnaissance aircraft, 2nd LAR were able to intercept and capture two experienced insurgent bomb-makers.

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6 octobre 2011 4 06 /10 /octobre /2011 05:35

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/ms2/images/K-MAX-QRA-300.jpg

source lockheedmartin.com

 

OWEGO, N.Y., Oct. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire

 

The Marine Corps will deploy the Lockheed Martin and Kaman unmanned K-MAX® to Afghanistan next month.

 

The decision follows the successful completion of a five-day Quick Reaction Assessment for the U.S. Navy's Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program. A formal report, released last week by Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force, confirmed that the unmanned K-MAX exceeded the Navy and Marines' requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day.

 

"This announcement underscores K-MAX's strong performance and the strength of the Lockheed Martin/Kaman team," said Dan Spoor, vice president of Aviation Systems in Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems & Sensors. "We are fully prepared to deploy our system and augment Marine Corps ground and air logistics in Afghanistan." 

 

K-MAX will be the Navy's first-ever cargo unmanned aircraft system to deploy in an operational environment. The deploying team recently concluded training and flight tests at its base in Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., and is currently preparing the aircraft for shipment into theater. The team consists of active duty mission commanders, air vehicle operators and Lockheed Martin employees.

 

"I am very confident in both the team and the K-MAX UAS to successfully perform their missions while deployed," said Rear Admiral Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. "K-MAX has the capability to quickly deliver cargo, thus getting troops off the roads and allowing them to focus on other missions."

 

"We are extremely honored to have been selected for deployment by the Navy," said Sal Bordonaro, division president at Kaman Helicopters. "We are committed to providing the Marine Corps with the life-saving unmanned capability of our proven airframe, reducing the risk to our forces by taking the cargo resupply mission from the ground to the air."

 

Since partnering in 2007, Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have successfully transformed Kaman's proven K-MAX power-lift manned helicopter into a UAS capable of autonomous or remote controlled cargo delivery.

 

Kaman designed the K-MAX platform, and Lockheed Martin has designed the helicopter's mission management and control systems to provide the K-MAX with exceptional flight autonomy in remote environments and over long distances.

 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.

 

Kaman Helicopters is a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation, a subsidiary of Kaman Corporation. Founded in 1945 by aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman, and headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, the Company conducts business in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets.   

 

For additional information, visit our web sites:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/ms2

http://www.kaman.com

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5 octobre 2011 3 05 /10 /octobre /2011 18:35

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/081131-F-7734Q-001.jpg

 

October 4, 2011 by Austin Bay – STRATEGY PAGE

 

The appalling loss of life and physical destruction of al-Qaida's 9-11 suicide air strikes stunned the United States. The shock of surprise -- the unexpected attack "out of nowhere" on the presumed safe havens of American cities -- psychologically magnified the shock.

 

Al-Qaida's commanders sent the message that in their war on America and its allies, they possessed a key advantage: surprise. Al-Qaida's smart weapons -- violent zealots willing to die in order to kill thousands -- would penetrate our cities and towns and, at the moment of their choosing, a moment of surprise, turn them into killing fields. America would not be able to stop these unpredictable "asymmetric" attacks. Al-Qaida's commanders, however, would be able to disappear in the global haystack. Difficult terrain (e.g., the Himalayas), anarchic hells (e.g., Somalia) or friendly governments riddled with corrupt officials would provide safe havens.

 

Then, in Afghanistan, a decade ago, the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surprised al-Qaida's grossly ill-informed elites. Armed with the "smart" Hellfire missile and digitally linked to America's vast "symmetric" technical intelligence system, the Predator was an omnipresent sniper exposing al-Qaida's leaders to deadly fire from "out of nowhere." Al-Qaida learned that asymmetry lies in the eye of the beholder.

 

In fall 2002, a Predator flying over Yemen's Marib province spotted Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, a senior operative involved in 9-11 and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. A Hellfire killed al-Harthi. In mid-2008, Predator attacks on terrorist targets in Pakistan began to increase. The U.S. demonstrated that even isolated, tribal locales where everyone's a cousin aren't hermetically sealed.

 

America's armed UAVs are an extraordinary military, intelligence, psychological and political weapon in the Global War on Terror. To restrict their use, or to deny the U.S. the ability to use them, for whatever the claimed goal or legal theory, only benefits the mass murderers who wage a borderless war on America and Americans. Al-Qaida targets its enemies globally, from Bali to Mumbai to Fort Hood, Texas.

 

Enter the American Civil Liberties Union. For months, the ACLU has bemoaned Anwar al-Awlaki's inclusion on President Barack Obama's list of terrorists that may be killed when identified. Awlaki was born in New Mexico, so the ACLU contends that the president targeted an American citizen for assassination and denied Awlaki legal due process.

 

In 2010, a federal judge rejected an ACLU lawsuit filed on Awlaki's behalf. The judge said the judiciary had no business intruding into targeting decisions made by the duly elected executive branch. If Awlaki desired American legal protections, he could turn himself in.

 

Awlaki belonged to an organization at war with the U.S. He took pride in waging war on the U.S. He helped plan terror attacks. In the U.S. Civil War, Union soldiers didn't need a warrant to arrest or kill a Confederate belligerent, just a rifle. Awlaki was a rebel and a traitor. In sum, a nation fighting a war has the right to kill its enemies, and Awlaki was a dedicated enemy.

 

Last week, a Predator killed Awlaki -- in Yemen.

 

The ACLU and other lawfare-trumps-warfare organizations, however, remain in an activist tizzy. Why? Many lawfare advocates still don't believe America is engaged in a war; they believe it is an anti-crime action. President Obama himself encouraged this notion when he was Candidate Obama, but the sobering effects of executive responsibility have taught him otherwise.

 

Extremists in the lawfare mob believe the great courtroom in their minds really does regulate Earth's dark alleys, anarchic hells and chaotic battlefields. Narcissism or solipsism? Let's leave diagnosis to their shrinks.

 

In practice, the lawfare extremists behave like religious cultists pursuing a litigated utopia. Extremists in some international human rights organizations argue that Predator strikes themselves violate international law; drone strikes "blur" and violate "applicable legal rules." Defending Awlaki is thus a means of restricting use of the weapons with the goal of eliminating them.

 

In other words, these pillars of black-letter sanctimony would deny the civilized -- that's us -- the benefit of surprise in our long war on barbarians who recognize no rules.

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5 octobre 2011 3 05 /10 /octobre /2011 17:40

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/var/dicod/storage/images/base-de-medias/images/operations/afghanistan/111005-afghanistan-francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans/francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans-1/1393593-2-fre-FR/francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans-1.jpg

 

05/10/2011 Sources : EMA

 

Le 29 septembre 2011, les 90 militaires afghans de la batterie d’artillerie de Kandahar ont reçu leurs diplômes de qualification des mains de leurs instructeurs français et géorgiens. En effet, depuis juin dernier, 12 Français et 11 Géorgiens sont engagés au sein d’une mobile training team (MTT) « artillerie », dont la mission est de former les artilleurs de l’armée nationale afghane (ANA).

 

L’équipe franco-géorgienne disposait de quatre mois pour atteindre son objectif : que la batterie afghane soit capable d’appuyer de ses feux les opérations de l’ANA, et ce de manière autonome.

Les Français ont instruit les équipes de préparation des tirs, chargées de calculer les trajectoires, et les équipes d’observateurs, chargées de désigner les objectifs. Les Géorgiens ont formé les équipes de pièce, chargées de la mise en œuvre des canons.

 

« Les Afghans utilisent des canons de type 122 D30 », déclare le capitaine géorgien Kikravelidze Bezhan. « Nous connaissons bien ces armes, dont l’armée géorgienne est équipée. Nous sommes heureux de partager notre savoir faire avec l’ANA. De surcroit, notre coopération avec nos homologues français représente un enrichissement mutuel, qui accroit encore l’intérêt de cette mission ».

 

Après plusieurs semaines de cours théoriques et pratiques, les artilleurs afghans sont aptes à remplir leur mission d’appui. « Je pense que mes hommes sont désormais capables d’appuyer seuls des opérations de l’ISAF et de l’armée afghane », confirme le capitaine Abdul, commandant afghan de la batterie de 122 D30.

 

Pour la MTT artillerie franco-géorgienne, la mission continue : une nouvelle session de formation débute prochainement à Gamberi, dans la région de Jalalabad.

 

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/var/dicod/storage/images/base-de-medias/images/operations/afghanistan/111005-afghanistan-francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans/francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans-2/1393626-3-fre-FR/francais-et-georgiens-forment-les-artilleurs-afghans-2.jpg

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5 octobre 2011 3 05 /10 /octobre /2011 16:35

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/newsgraphics/2011/1005-taliban/1005-taliban.png

 

Carte des provinces afghanes touchées par les coupures de lignes de téléphones portables, sous pression des talibans, en octobre 2011. Source : The New York Times.

 

05 octobre 2011 - Big Browser

 

Cette carte, publiée mardi par le New York Times, représente les provinces dans lesquelles les antennes relayant les signaux des téléphones portables afghans sont désactivées par les opérateurs téléphoniques du pays, de quelques heures à vingt heures par jour, sous la pression des talibans.

 

Les insurgés afghans ne sont pas opposés à l'usage du portable – ni à celui d'Internet, qu'ils ont embrassé après leur chute en 2001, à des fins de propagande. Ces coupures de ligne, qui touchent plus de la moitié du pays et interviennent le plus souvent la nuit, leur permettent de se mouvoir sans risquer d'être dénoncés par la population.

 

Mais, selon le New York Times, elles incitent à se demander "si les talibans ont besoin de tenir le territoire comme ils le faisaient auparavant afin d'influencer la population. De plus en plus, il semble que la réponse soit non". En effet, ces coupures d'un outil essentiel pour le commerce, qui représente l'un des rares secteurs relativement sains de l'économie afghane, "rappellent quotidiennement à des centaines de milliers, voire des millions d'Afghans, que les talibans ont encore une influence réelle sur leur futur".

 

Les opérateurs de téléphonie affirment, eux, ne pas pouvoir compter sur le gouvernement ni sur l'OTAN pour défendre les tours et leurs employés. Ainsi, un gérant anonyme d'Etisalat, l'une de ces compagnies, déclare au New York Times : "Les talibans nous menacent avec force si nous n'éteignons pas le signal dans la ville de Kandahar", l'ancienne capitale du régime taliban et le point central de la campagne d'augmentation de troupes lancée par le président Obama en 2009, afin de manifester la présence de l'OTAN dans le Sud afghan. "Ils disent : vous êtes les mêmes que les Américains. Ce que nous ferons contre les Américains, nous le ferons également contre vous. Vos employés seront enlevés, tués, et les tours seront brûlées."

 

De même, poursuit l'employé, "Le gouvernement dit : 'Vous ne devriez pas éteindre le signal à Kandahar.' Ils disent : 'Nous pouvons protéger les sites dans la ville', mais nous ne croyons pas que le gouvernement protégera les tours."

 

Alors qu'ils tendent à éviter la confrontation directe avec les troupes de l'OTAN, les talibans se concentrent sur des actions médiatiques et ciblées, comme l'attaque-suicide lancée contre le quartier des ambassades et du QG des services secrets afghans à Kaboul, le 13 septembre, et l'assassinat le 20 septembre de Burhanuddin Rabbani, ancien président afghan chargé des négociations de paix entre le gouvernement et les talibans.

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5 octobre 2011 3 05 /10 /octobre /2011 11:30

http://www.spacedaily.com/images-lg/stans-spix-lg.jpg

 

Washington (AFP) Oct 3, 2011 SpaceWar.com

 

The United States faces diminishing clout in Afghanistan as its troops pull out, but Afghan leaders will still turn to Washington as the most influential player over the next decade, analysts said.

 

Their contention is based on the premise that US-backed Afghan security forces will keep the Taliban at bay and that President Hamid Karzai and his successors will be able to stay in power.

 

For analyst Michael O'Hanlon, the United States will be able to retain "quite a bit" of influence in Kabul after 2014, when the bulk of US troops and their NATO allies are supposed to have withdrawn from Afghanistan.

 

Underscoring the point, he said, is Afghan frustration with Pakistan, a US ally which US and Afghan officials accuse of playing a double game by supporting Taliban attacks against their troops.

 

"They're frustrated with the way the war is going and will sometimes blame us, but the bottom line is that at the end of the day, the United States and NATO are their best friends," O'Hanlon told AFP.

 

"It's not clear who else is really going to be there," the Brookings Institution analyst argued.

 

"Sure, they take a million dollars in cash from the Iranians, or they talk about how they want to ally with India, but India is a long way away," he added.

 

"And Iran is really more influential in the Western part of the country, which is not the core of the country," O'Hanlon said.

 

"They somehow thought that they could do a deal with the Taliban and that we were the main ones getting in the way, but obviously the events of the last few weeks dampen those kinds of expectations," he added.

 

Karzai is reviewing his strategy for peace with the Taliban following the murder last month of his top envoy, chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani, his spokesman said Sunday, as Afghan officials said the killer was Pakistani.

 

After the United States withdraws its combat forces in three years, it will still retain perhaps between 10,000 and 15,000 troops in the country, predicted Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

They will be used to train Afghan forces or provide them with logistics and intelligence, he said.

 

"The more we draw down, the less influence we'll have, but the Afghans have no place to turn but to us. So while our influence will be less than it is today, it will still be far more than any other country," Gelb told AFP.

 

However, he said the real issue is not how much influence Washington has in the country but what the Afghans do to "create a legitimate and effective government to fight the Taliban," something he says they have failed to do.

 

Ashley Tellis, a south Asia analyst for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the pullout will prompt a "very substantial shift" in US strategy from one of counter-insurgency to that of counter-terrorism.

 

With US troops no longer directly fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, the CIA will continue to hunt down Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, much as it has done with its drone strikes on militant rear bases in neighboring Pakistan.

 

"I think CIA and counter-terrorism will be constant," Tellis said. "And the power that the agency (CIA) will have will be substantial because they are well resourced and are well organized."

 

He also does not expect President Barack Obama's administration to increase further the 1,200 civilian experts it has deployed in Afghanistan because the environment will still not be safe enough for more.

 

They will continue to "do a lot of mentoring of national and subnational institutions," he added.

 

"And where there is relative order, they will work with local tribal groups, they will work with local governments to try and help them put together a semblance of civil administration."

 

Tellis also forecast "a substantial diminution in US financial commitments to Afghanistan and an effort to seek alternatives," either through increased revenues from Afghan mineral resources or greater international involvement.

 

But he said the Afghans will continue to rely more on the United States than any rival.

 

"I think the United States will be the most important outside player, followed of course immediately by Pakistan and that of course will bring challenges all its own," he told AFP.

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4 octobre 2011 2 04 /10 /octobre /2011 12:55

http://lignesdedefense.blogs.ouest-france.fr/media/01/00/665821770.jpg

 

04.10.2011 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense

 

Le sergent Paul Grahame, dit Bommer, est un JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller ou contrôleur avancé) du Light Dragoon mais il a passé sept mois dans le sud de l'Afghanistan, en 2007, intégré au 2e Mercian Regiment.

 

Il a tiré de son expérience afghane un livre intitulé Fire Strike Seven Nine (en français: Appui-feu en Afghanistan). L'excellent livre de Bommer ayant été publié au début de l'été 2010, il faut saluer la belle réactivité des éditions Nimrod qui l'ont repéré, traduit et adapté pour une sortie automnale en France.

 

JTAC? "Déployés au sol au contact de l'ennemi, les JTAC s'immergent dans le champ de bataille et dirigent les frappes aériennes qui vont permettre de repousser les assauts et d'écraser l'adversaire, ou encore de venir au secours de camarades pris en embuscade", résumé l'éditeur.

 

Certes, le livre donne l'impression que toute(s) la/(les) bataille(s) tourne(nt) autour du JTAC et que les frappes qu'il dirige permettent, seules, de faire la différence. C'est l'inconvénient de ces livres "ramassés", intenses, où la seule perspective est celle du narrateur. Mais le point de vue est inédit et passionnant et l'on oublie vite cette posture restrictive digne de Fabrice à Waterloo et l'impression déconcertante de facilité avec laquelle les opérations réussissent. Ce qui compte dans cet ouvrage, c'est le travail du JTAC, pas la stratégie afghane de l'Isaf ou l'inventaire des moyens air-sol disponibles.  

 

bommer.jpgLe JTAC Bommer ("1 homme, 180 jours, 203 morts", dit, sans trop de finesse, la jaquette anglaise) jongle avec les Apache, B-1, F-15, F-16, Harrier (quelques Mirage pointent leurs moustaches mais Bommer avoue que ce ne sont pas ses "plateformes" préférées). "Jongle" n'est peut-être le mot juste puisqu'il n'y a aucune désinvolture dans l'activité de Bommer, aucune dimension ludique; sa mission consiste à faire neutraliser les menaces qui pèsent sur les troupes amies, tout en évitant de faire ouvrir le feu sur des civils (et sur ces mêmes troupes amies). En revanche, le JTAC (photo ci-contre le montrant dans son Vector) orchestre un va-et-vient permanent entre l'aérien et le terrestre, maîtrisant le choix de la riposte à l'attaque talibane, relançant les frappes sans que le "contrôle" ne lui échappe.

 

Paul Grahame (avec Damien Lewis), Appui feu en Afghanistan, Nimrod, 308 pages, 21€.

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 12:00

Ligne de defense P Chapleau

 

03.10.2011 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense

 

Le 7 octobre 2001, les forces américaines lançaient leurs premières opérations offensives en Afghanistan. Dix ans plus tard où en sont la coalition et les forces armées nationales qui y contribuent? Deux hors séries apportent des réponses. Détails.

assaut.jpgLes Dossiers d'Assaut consacrent leur n°7 à "dix ans de conflit en terre afghane".Jean-Jacques Cécile propose « un bilan » afghan, qui n'a rien d'exhaustif, prévient-il avec raison. L'auteur a choisi 5 thématiques : les drones, le renseignement, les forces spéciales, les IED, les évolutions tactiques, qu'il analyse à l'échelle de la coalition. On oubliera le ton parfois désinvolte du texte bourré de clichés pour se concentrer sur la pertinence des informations données et on appréciera à sa juste valeur ce hors série qui révèle une partie « de ce que vous avez toujours voulu savoir du conflit afghan sans oser le demander ».

Afghanistan. retour d'expérience,  Les dossiers d'Assaut n°7, 99 pages, 15€

 

 

raids.jpgRaids sort aussi un numéro spécial Afghanistan mais consacré à l'armée française au combat. Jean-Marc Tanguy consacre l'intégralité de son « Afghanistan. 10 ans d'opération » à l'armée française. Il retrace l'engagement tricolore depuis décembre 2001 et l'arrivée des premiers éléments du 21e Rima, jusqu'aux dernières décisions gouvernementales de retrait progressif du contingent français, tout en mettant des coups de projecteur sur les OMLT, les GTIA, le renseignement, l'arme aérienne. Un plus ? Des témoignages inédits d'acteurs français et une belle iconographie (même si l'auteur aurait souhaité mieux) valorisée par une maquette aérée. Bon, évidemment en 83 pages, Raids ne fait pas le tour de la question afghane. Mais pour comprendre l'armée française au combat, ce hors série n'a que des mérites.

 

L'armée française au combat, Raids HS n°41, 83 pages, 11,50€

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 06:50

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Cougar_Hit_By_IED.jpg

This Cougar in Al Anbar, Iraq, was hit by a directed charge I

ED approximately 300–500 lbs in size. photo US Navy

 

October 2, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

The first decade of the war on terror has killed 6,300 American troops, most of them (71 percent) in Iraq. The most common (47 percent) cause of death overall was roadside bombs and mines. These weapons have been less effective in Afghanistan, where they only caused 39 percent of deaths. In Iraq, about half the deaths were from the bombs and mines. All this was in sharp contrast to Vietnam, where 14 percent of American deaths were from bombs and mines.

 

In Iraq, where the widespread use of bombs and mines began, the U.S. mobilized a multi-billion dollar effort to deal with IEDs (improvised explosive devices, usually roadside bombs), and that effort paid off. New technology (jammers, robots), tactics (predictive analysis and such), equipment (better armor for vehicles and troops) and a lot of determination did the job. Gradually, IEDs became less dangerous. In 2006, it took about five IEDs to cause one coalition casualty (11 percent of them fatal). By 2008 it took nine IEDs per casualty (12 percent fatal). In 2006, only 8 percent of IEDs put out there caused casualties. In 2007, it was nine percent. In 2008, it was less than five percent. At that point, it was clear that the battle with IEDs was being won. The main objective of IEDs was to kill coalition troops, and at that, they were very ineffective. In 2006, you had to use 48 to kill one soldier in Iraq. In 2007, you needed 49 and by 2008, you needed 79. This year there have only been a handful of American deaths from IEDs in Iraq.

 

Iraqi terrorists are still using roadside bombs, but most of the casualties are Iraqi police, soldiers and civilians. A major reason for the low losses has been MRAP armored trucks, designed to protect its passengers from IEDs, and years of experience in detecting IEDs before they can hurt anyone. New tactics and technologies show up every month. One of the latest items is a data collection system that, thanks to very fast computers, is able to constantly monitor information from thousands of sensors, and predict where IEDs are likely to show up. These warnings show up in the form of red dots on maps displayed in laptops carried in most vehicles. When the engineers or bomb disposal teams check out the dots, and either dispose of the bomb, or confirm that one is not there, the dots disappear.

 

In Afghanistan, conditions are different. There, IEDs are more frequently used against troops on foot patrol. These, more than attacks on vehicles, tend to cause multiple fatalities. In Afghanistan, the enemy also uses more land mines, both against troops and larger ones against vehicles travelling the numerous dirt roads.

 

The Taliban, unable to withstand foreign troops in a gun battle, have put most of their resources into an IED campaign. Thus the number of IEDs encountered went from 2,678 in 2007 to than 12,000 last year. This year, the number is declining.

 

In Afghanistan foreign troops have been on the offensive this year, and more exposed to IED attacks in areas where there has not been time to clear out the IEDs. This is especially true with land mines, which are easier to plant and more difficult to avoid. The mines end up causing more civilian casualties as well, because the Taliban often don't remove the ones that did not go off, or mark the areas where they are. If foreign troops do not encounter mines, and thus have an opportunity to clear them, civilians will eventually encounter them and get hurt.

 

In Afghanistan, the enemy started off with one big disadvantage, as they didn't have the expertise or the resources of the Iraqi IED specialists. In Iraq, the bombs were built and placed by one of several dozen independent gangs, each containing smaller groups of people with different skills. At the head of each gang was a guy called the money man. That tells you something about how all this works. Nearly all the people involved with IED gangs were Sunni Arabs, and most of them once worked for Saddam and learned how to handle explosives. The gangs hired themselves out to terrorist groups (some of them al Qaeda affiliated), but mainly to Baath Party or Sunni Arab groups that believed the Sunni Arabs should be running the country. You got the money, these gangs got the bombs.

 

The money man, naturally, called the shots. He hired, individually or as groups, the other specialists. These included scouts (who found the most effective locations to put the bombs), the bomb makers, the emplacers (who placed the bomb) and the trigger team, that actually set the bomb off, and often included an ambush team, to attack the damaged vehicles with AK-47s and RPGs. The trigger team also usually included a guy with a video camera, who recorded the operation. Attacks that failed were also recorded, for later examination to discover what could be improved.

 

Survivors of the al Qaeda defeat in Iraq fled to Afghanistan, where they brought all these techniques with them. But the Afghans did not have the level of training and experience available in Iraq, so the Afghan IED effort got off to a slow start.

 

In Iraq, interrogations of captured IED crew members indicated that most IED teams operated on a two week cycle. During this period, the gang prepared and placed from a few, to a dozen IEDs in one, carefully planned operation. Once the money man decided on what area to attack, the scout team (or teams) spent 4-5 days examining the target area, to see how troops, police and traffic operated. They recommend places to put the bombs, and the money man decided how many to build and place where. In Afghanistan, there was less of the two week cycle work, and more planting mines and roadside bombs around areas they wish to protect, especially drug related facilities (where heroin is refined or stored awaiting movement out of the country.)

 

The bomb makers were contracted to build a certain number of bombs and have them ready for pick up by the emplacers on a certain day. The trigger teams were either already in place, or arrived shortly after the emplacers had successfully planted their bombs. Most of the bombs were discovered and destroyed by the police or troops. Increasingly, the trigger teams were discovered, and attacked, as well. This is where a lot of bomb team members were captured. These men often provided information on other members of the team, which resulted in more arrests.

 

Thousands of men, involved with these IED gangs, were constantly being captured or killed. There were always plenty of new people willing to have a go at it. The main reason was money. The opportunity to make a month's pay for a few hours, or days, work was worth the risk. But there was a serious shortage of people with technical skills to actually build the bombs. As more of these men were killed or captured, there were fewer bombs, and more of them were duds. This has already been seen in some parts of Afghanistan. There, as the local IED gang is busted up, there follows by several weeks, or months, of no IEDs. But the IEDs are the only effective weapon the Taliban and drug gangs have, so they are spreading millions of dollars around for those willing to get involved.

 

NATO troops, and particularly the United States, are making a major effort to detect IEDs (improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs), which have accounted for up to 60 percent of deaths among foreign troops. About several billion dollars' worth of special equipment has arrived in Afghanistan over the last few years, more than doubling the amount of specialized gear used for detecting IEDs, and identifying the personnel making, placing and setting off the bombs. Several thousand specialists arrived to operate the special detection and intelligence programs. The number of IED deaths declined as more anti-IED resources entered the country.

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 06:45

http://www.cobham.com/media/54111/aes_minehound3.jpg

source cobham.com

 

October 1, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

American military advisors have arranged the purchase of over a thousand “Minehound” VMR2 hand-held mine detectors for the Afghan security forces. These four kilogram (8.8) pound devices include a metal detector and ground penetrating radar. The latter is used to detect mines with no metal in them. The VMR2 is already used by American forces, and some of the Afghan mine clearing troops are already familiar with this equipment.

 

Afghan troops will use the VMR2 to search for landmines that the Taliban are using with increasing frequency, as well as roadside bombs and anti-vehicle mines on dirt roads. Many of these bombs and mines contain no metal.

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2 octobre 2011 7 02 /10 /octobre /2011 11:35

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1 Oct 2011 DefenseNews AFP

 

WASHINGTON - U.S. defense chief Leon Panetta paid tribute Sept. 30 to Canada's "tremendous work" in Afghanistan, acknowledging the sacrifices made by America's northern neighbor in the 10-year war.

 

Canada, which once had about 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, officially ended its combat mission there in July, after losing 157 lives and spending more than $11 billion since 2002.

 

The war also killed one of its diplomats, two aid workers and a journalist.

 

A separate Canadian training mission involving 950 troops is working in northern Afghanistan to help build the fragile Afghan security forces. Canada will also continue to give aid to Afghanistan, with its overall involvement between now and the end of 2014 expected to cost around $700 million a year.

 

"In Afghanistan, the Canadians are doing tremendous work, providing trainers, they have a presence in Kandahar," Panetta said after meeting at the Pentagon with his Canadian counterpart Peter MacKay for an hour.

 

"Canada is one of the NATO countries that suffered the most in terms of those who lost their life. And we pay tremendous respect to Canada for the sacrifice that they've made."

 

He also saluted Ottawa's partnership with the United States in Libya as part of a NATO campaign against the regime of long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi.

 

"Canada and the United States have in my view the best relationship on the planet that really sets a gold standard for other countries around the globe," said MacKay, stressing the "special relationship" between the neighbors.

 

He repeated Canada's request to purchase American F-35 jet fighters, whose development costs are proving far higher than initially anticipated.

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1 octobre 2011 6 01 /10 /octobre /2011 07:00

http://postmediaottawacitizen.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/id38535_600.jpg?w=300&h=250

 

September 30, 2011. David Pugliese Defence Watch

 

This came in from Windmill International:

 

Nashua, N.H. - Windmill International, Inc. announced that it has received a $9 million order for their KA-10 Suitcase Portable Receive Suite (SPRS) for Central Command Special Forces in Afghanistan. The order included KA-10s, training, and product support. Windmill’s KA-10 SPRS is a highly-portable, rugged satellite receiver system developed to support Special Operations forces deployed overseas. The battle-ready KA-10 conveniently brings crucial command center information and data to the in-field warfighter, substantially improving mission success probabilities and saving lives.

 

The KA-10 can withstand a variety of adverse environmental conditions, including high humidity, blowing sand, rain, and extreme heat/cold. The SPRS has passed all MIL-STD-810F requirements.

 

The SPRS has Global Broadcast Service (GBS) broadcast reception capability-at up to 45Mb/sec-from UHF Follow-On (UFO) and Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) transponders. The SPRS supports operation with High-Assurance IP Encryption (HAIPE) to support a single security enclave from Secret up to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) classification. Satellite acquisition time is approximately 3 minutes due to Windmill’s patented auto-acquisition capability. The SPRS is designed to be battery operated. This truly portable unit weighs just 32 pounds in tactical carry mode. Accessible GBS products include unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) video and imagery; weather, terrain, geospatial and mapping information; Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) imagery; streaming video, web content replication and other large files.

 

Windmill developed the KA-10 SPRS under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program – and Windmill was recognized with a 2011 Tibbett’s Award from the Small Business Administration for excellence in the SBIR program. Operational field evaluations of the initial KA-10 were conducted under the Defense Acquisition Challenge Program. Windmill is currently developing an even smaller, more specialized version using funding from the Air Force’s Warfighter Rapid Acquisition Program.

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1 octobre 2011 6 01 /10 /octobre /2011 06:55

http://www.flightglobal.com/assets/getasset.aspx?itemid=39140

photo UK MoD

 

September 30, 2011 Craig Hoyle - Flightglobal

 

London - Royal Air Force operations with the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper have cleared another milestone, with the service announcing that its aircraft have now released 200 weapons in Afghanistan.

 

Based at Kandahar airfield in Helmand province and in combat use since October 2007, 39 Sqn's Reapers provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance cover for UK and coalition forces. When required, they also can use their weapons load, which includes two Raytheon GBU-12 Paveway II 226kg (500lb) precision-guided bombs and four Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.

 

In an operational update issued for the week of 19-25 September, the RAF confirmed that its aircraft had deployed their combined 200th weapon. The service detailed three separate "kinetic events" during this period, which it said included "striking moving targets, some travelling at high speed, while overcoming challenging terrain to deliver weapons effect and avoid civilian casualties".

 

More than 300h of video imagery and other reconnaissance cover was provided over the course of the same week, it said.

 

Using a current fleet of five aircraft, the UK's Reaper force maintains an ability to provide at least 36h of combined surveillance cover over Afghanistan each day. Six more MQ-9s will be delivered to the RAF from next year, with these to help expand its capability to providing up to three 24h "orbits" continuously.

 

UK operations with the Reaper also cleared the 25,000 flight hour mark earlier this year, with its "fleet leader" having accounted for more than 9,500h of this total.

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1 octobre 2011 6 01 /10 /octobre /2011 06:25

http://cdn.polarisindustries.com/MIL/MY2011/overview/rgr_diesel.jpg

source polarisindustries.com

 

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 30 (UPI)

 

The U.S. Army has tapped Polaris Industries Inc. to supply all-terrain vehicles to Afghan and Iraqi security forces, the U.S. government and others.

 

The three-year contract, which includes spare parts and trailers, is worth $54 million.

 

"As the leading supplier of military ultra-light mobility platforms, we provide our customers the most capable, high-performance ATVs," said Scott Wine, chief executive officer of Polaris Industries.

 

"For almost a decade, we have been working with military customers all over the world, integrating their unique needs with cost-effective mobility solutions.

 

"With more than 3,000 battle-proven vehicles deployed in theater, we have developed a strong understanding of our customers' requirements. This unique position, coupled with our world-class manufacturing operations, allows us to supply vehicles quickly to meet the urgent operational needs of this contract."

 

The contract follows Polaris's completion of a multi-year contract awarded by the Army in 2007. The company said the new three-year award features options for two additional years of work.

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29 septembre 2011 4 29 /09 /septembre /2011 16:30
http://image.exct.net/lib/ff2e11737161/i/1/c20e8264-7.jpg
A graphic demonstration of a structural blast chimney employed during an IED strike.
Image: williamflew.wordpress.com

 

09/29/2011 Neil Waghorn defenceiq.com

 

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are one of the biggest threats for vehicles in Afghanistan. According to figures obtained by the Washington Post from the Joint IED Defeat Organisation, the number of IED attacks in Afghanistan reached 14,661 in 2010, with 2011’s figures set to be even higher. This threat has lead to many nations across the globe investing in IED protection. While the sophistication of IEDs varies wildly – from artillery shells connected to a simple pressure plate to homemade explosives detonated by remote control – there is a limited number of ways for a vehicle to survive an IED.

The optimum way for a vehicle to survive an IED blast is for there not to be a blast in the first place. The neutralisation of the IED threat can be achieved through a variety of methods. The surveillance and targeting of critical nodes in the insurgent network is one method, potentially resulting in the network’s paralysis. Intelligence on IED locations produced by the local population can also help mitigate the threats. Technology, such as signal jammers, can also help reduce the threat by preventing radio detonation of IEDs. However, assuming that the threat cannot be completely eliminated, it is important to assess the options available for ensuring vehicle survivability, focusing on armour and hull design.

A cycle of upgrades

The immediate reaction to an IED threat is to increase the armour on a vehicle, making it more survivable. This, however, causes a cycle of upgrades. The enemy will simply increase the size of the IED, requiring a need for yet increased armour. For the vehicle, however, this cycle may not be sustainable.

There is a limit to the amount of armour that you can put on a vehicle before it becomes impractical. At what point does a light vehicle start to resemble a tank? Heavy Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles can struggle off-road and be too heavy to go across some bridges in Afghanistan, with some MRAPs reportedly weighing in at up to 30 tons – depending on the model, equipment and load. Armour has always been a trade off between protection and speed and manoeuvrability. The aim is to find an acceptable position somewhere in the middle that offers both protection and speed.  

 
 
When fighting in a theatre far from home, such as Afghanistan, there are logistical issues with high levels of armour. The sheer size and weight of the armoured vehicle may prevent it being transported to theatre, or limit the number of vehicles that can be moved. Bolting on extra armour when already in theatre can partly mitigate this issue. According to a report for the US Congress, some heavy MRAPs weigh too much to be moved by helicopter – a significant issue if operating in a country with poor transport infrastructure such as Afghanistan. Heavier vehicles may also be less fuel efficient and be more expensive to operate.

Channelling the blast

Faced with the limitations of heavy armour, the focus is further shifting to ways to channel and deflect the force of the blast instead of attempting to just block it. One existing approach is the use of V-shaped hulls.

Originally developed in South Africa to combat the use of landmines in the bush of Southern Africa, the objective of this hull design is to deflect the force of the blast outwards and upwards, away from the inhabitants of the vehicle. V-shaped hulls are becoming increasingly common on new armoured vehicle designs such as the Ocelot - produced by Force Protection Europe - helping raise IED survivability.

 

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A progression of this thinking has led to the development of a new technology: Structural Blast Chimneys. The concept behind this structural change is that the chimney will act as a pressure release valve, allowing the force of the blast to be released safely up through the centre of the vehicle. A potential issue with V-shaped hull vehicles is that they tend to have a high centre of gravity and the force of an IED blast can cause the vehicle to roll over. According to a June 2008 report by the US Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned, of the 38 MRAP accidents between November 7th and June 8th 2008, only 4 did not involve a MRAP rolling over. This can cause harm to the occupants of the vehicle. A structural blast chimney would help counter this, with the force of the explosion coming out the chimney pushing downwards and keeping the vehicle on the road. According to an interview with Defencenews.com, the CEO of Hardwire George Tunis stated that “in the instant of a blast, a 15,000-pound vehicle will effectively weigh closer to 60,000 pounds” due to the thrust coming out the chimney.

DARPA testing

The American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is combining V-shaped hulls and Structural Blast Chimneys with other technologies in their ‘Topologically Ordered Armor’. DARPA has been testing its new armour at the Aberdeen Blast Test Center and results indicate ‘that a properly modified HMMWV may provide occupant survivability comparable to the M-ATV underbody at nearly half the weight’. The light weight, in comparison to MRAP and M-ATV, ensures that upgraded HMMWVs will still be able to conduct off road operations with ease, without having to worry whether infrastructure such as bridges can take the load. The issues of moving upgraded vehicles to and around theatre are unlikely to be much greater than that for existing HMMWVs.

Senator Patrick Leahy, of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, is reported to have summed up the advantages of the structural blast chimney, when he commented that “It comes in at less weight, considerably less weight, more mobility, a third of the cost, and so forth, of the MRAP," With the technology still undergoing tests, the exact final cost of a newly structurally altered vehicle, or how much it would cost to upgrade existing vehicles, is still unclear, but, as Sen. Leahy suggests, it is likely to be less than a new MRAP.

Although the Structural Blast Chimney was originally designed for integration with HMMWVs, US Army Secretary John McHugh has reportedly expressed to Congress that, if the system works, there is the potential for examining its implementation on other platforms.

The DARPA tests highlight that there is an alternative to simply increasing the armour on vehicles. A change in mindset and the willingness to accept structural changes can potentially provide the safety of armour without the traditional weaknesses - it may finally be possible to have both protection and manoeuvrability.

If these structural changes become standard in vehicles it will be interesting to see how Taliban insurgents respond. The likelihood is that the cycle of upgrades will start again, with both sides attempting to overcome their opponent’s latest tactic. It may be that increased levels of armour will be a solution, but structural changes may mean that vehicles can maintain a certain level of manoeuvrability.
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29 septembre 2011 4 29 /09 /septembre /2011 05:15

http://media.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/LAND_Robot_MMP-15_MMP-30_TMS_lg.jpg

source defenseindustrydaily.com

 

September 27, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

The Afghan military has ordered over 300 MMP-30 robots for mine and roadside bomb clearing. The MMP-30 is a new model, having entered service four years ago as the smaller MMP-15, and two years ago as the MMP-30. One of the first users of the MMP-30 was the U.S. Navy EOD (Explosives Ordnance Disposal) teams, and they recommended it to the Afghans (who had also used them).

 

The MMP-30 got into an already crowded market by being cheaper and more rugged than the existing Talon and PackBot droids that have dominated the market for years. The MMP-30 is a 13.6 kg (30 pound) robot with a 9 kg (20 pound) payload. Its batteries will last two hours (before being replaced or recharged). The MMP-30 is light enough to be carried into action, with another man carrying the accessories. The MMP-30 can be operated via cable or wirelessly. It can mount the usual assortment of cameras and claws.

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28 septembre 2011 3 28 /09 /septembre /2011 16:40

http://www.eda.europa.eu/Libraries/Generic_images_of_this_website/1.sflb.ashx

 

Brussels - 26 September 2011 by Jim Blackburn, EDA's Capability/Capability Area Engagement

 

The European Defence Agency has recently completed a project to develop and build a forensic laboratory to analyse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) recovered from incidents. IEDs account for approximately 80% of military casualties in Afghanistan and kill approximately three times that number of civilians. Taking actions to counter the threat of IEDs involves gathering as much information as possible about who is making them, where the components have come from and who is supporting the supply and building network. This allows the IED network to be interdicted, thus saving the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. It is essential in modern conflict to ensure that the prosecution of the campaign is conducted within boundaries of the law and therefore the collection of information about bombers must be carried out in an evidentially pure fashion such that it could later be used as evidence in a judicial process.

 

 

The Ministers of Defence from the EDA Member states directed the Agency to spend Operational Budget money to purchase the equipment for such a forward deployable forensic laboratory to deploy into operations under a lead nation. The aim is to demonstrate to all Member States the utility of such a laboratory and the contributions that it can make. Furthermore it aims to prove the requirements, specifications and procedures, which can then be passed back in an intellectual package to all pMS to enable a template for the development of similar capabilities in the future.

 

Following the initial direction, the EDA set up a small team of experts from across the Member States to define the requirements for the demonstrator, establish the legal framework under which it could exist and deploy, set up the contracting, organise the personnel from across the Union to man the laboratory, and train the team. The contract was let on 17 December 2010 with the Spanish company Indra and delivered at the end of July after training personnel. The laboratory and the personnel flew into Afghanistan by the end of July 2011 and was set up and running with Initial Operating Capability by mid September 2011. The whole project was completed in a very short time which considering the multinational dimension of the staffing was remarkable.

 

 

The EDA Project, known as the Theatre Exploitation Laboratory (Demonstrator) or TEL(D), has been deployed by France as the lead nation and is manned by a multi-national team from France, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands. Early next year Italy, Romania and Sweden are expected to send manning contributions. Austria has bought some additional hardware for the laboratory to enhance its capabilities and has also made a significant contribution to training the personnel. Sweden and the Netherlands provided experts to help with training. Luxembourg covered the expenses for and organised the transport of the laboratory to Afghanistan. The Republic of Ireland, despite not officially participating in the project, hosted the team to excellent training to give them a better awareness of IEDs and the tactics used by insurgents. The whole effort was truly multinational and although exceptionally challenging, it proves that it is possible to work collaboratively and quickly if the will exists.

 

The laboratory is now getting good reports from Afghanistan where it is making a significant contribution to the effort to counter Improvised Explosive Devices and where it directly supports the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan National forces by providing real tangible input. The laboratory is envisaged to remain in Afghanistan this year and next year, but its future beyond then is yet to be decided.

Factsheet is available here.
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28 septembre 2011 3 28 /09 /septembre /2011 06:25

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/9A5A4796-08A0-4355-90DB-B54A9601D520/0/a10refuel.jpg

A US Marine Corps A-10 Thunderbolt II 'Warthog' aircraft takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over Afghanistan - Picture: Staff Sergeant Angelita Lawrence, US Air Force/ISAF 2009

 

27 Sep 11 UK MoD - A Military Operations news article

 

In the south and south west of Afghanistan, a team from the RAF is working with the US Marine Corps (USMC) on the daunting task of co-ordinating the use of some of the world's busiest airspace.

Members of the RAF's Aerospace Battle Management Team and the USMC Air Wing are colocated in a dusty, quiet and benign corner of sprawling Camp Leatherneck, a home from home for the US Marines serving in Helmand province.

The detachment is parented by the RAF's 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, only a short drive into adjoining Camp Bastion; however, all of the UK's Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) personnel live, work and socialise with their US Marine colleagues at Leatherneck, further enhancing their operational experience.

This close transatlantic partnership is responsible for controlling air power in one of Afghanistan's most volatile areas. The airspace above Helmand and Kandahar provinces is a complex mix. As well as the many military remotely piloted air systems, fast jets, support helicopters, air-to-air tankers and transports, there are civilian aircraft to contend with, and there may even be missiles or artillery shells in the air that have to be added to the constantly changing three-dimensional picture.

 

Squadron Leader John Kane, the UK's ASACS Detachment Commander, said:

"The pressure on these guys is immense. All of the operators are acutely aware of the impact that their individual and collective actions have in support of the troops on the ground - mistakes cost lives."

Meanwhile at neighbouring Kandahar Airfield, reputed to be the busiest single-runway airfield in the world, two RAF Tornado GR4s thunder down the tarmac, and another mission in support of coalition troops gets underway. The jets soar into the Afghan sky and turn west towards Helmand, heading out for that day's task; they don't know it yet, but they will soon be working with US Marines on the ground.

 

 

After clearing Kandahar's busy air traffic control, they contact the US Marine Corps mobile command and control unit at Camp Leatherneck, responsible for providing the air defence of the southern region of Afghanistan. Yet the voice that answers isn't that of a US Marine, but the distinctive tones of the Liverpudlian accent of one of the RAF's embedded Aerospace Battle Managers (ABMs).

 

The British voice on the radio belongs to one of a number of personnel drawn from the UK's ABM community - a joint Service group, including a Royal Navy exchange officer, who are charged with providing control, surveillance and battle management support to the US 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

 

As the pair of Tornado GR4s enter some of the busiest airspace in the world, they snap out their airspace request, aware of the volume of radio traffic, so keeping it short and to-the-point. To the untrained ear, their broadcast is an unintelligible stream of numbers and letters describing how Afghan airspace is divided.

 

Sitting in the tight confines of the control cabin with three other personnel, the controller's eyes flick between her handwritten stack sheet and the radar screen. It is a surprisingly chilly space considering the outside temperature is 42 degrees Celsius; the almost refrigerator-like temperatures are essential in preventing the equipment from overheating, often forcing the controllers to don official US Marine Corps hoodies, not a normal sartorial choice during an Afghan summer, but a sensible option to keep comfortable whilst on station for long hours. She quickly changes the British jets' flight level to deconflict with French aircraft already working in the same area, and clears them a safe transit route through the complex clutter of the Helmand skies.

 

Meanwhile, an RAF Surveillance Operator spots an air-to-air tanker entering the airspace. After identifying its track - the block of letters, numbers, colours and dots that show up on his screen – he calls it out to the controller.

 

The controller radios the tanker, rattling off the updates to the day's 'trade' before vectoring two US Air Force A-10 'Warthog' ground attack aircraft toward it for its first refuelling contact of the day.

Flight Lieutenant Glen Parker, the detachment Senior Traffic Director, said:

"During a routine 12-hour shift we have to deal with a high-intensity workload managing hundreds of air and ground requests.

"Whether it's a change to the refuelling plan, identifying an unknown aircraft, dynamically co-ordinating aircraft to deconflict with artillery or rocket fire, supporting a range of operations, or simply getting the right asset in the right place at the right time, our operators ensure all requests are met as efficiently, expeditiously and safely as possible."

Abruptly the Surveillance Director's voice crackles over the internal communications network: "Troops-in-Contact". All ears tune in as the Tornados are retasked to support a US Marine Corps infantry unit that has been attacked by insurgents. The controller directs them to the quickest possible route to support, clearing other aircraft away from their path and checking their estimated time to the contact. As they approach their tasking, they ask to descend to low level and push on towards the fire fight.

 

By the time they switch to the US Marine Corps Direct Air Support Centre (DASC) - the direct link between air and ground forces - the plan will be set. Without radar, it is impossible for the controllers to give vectors or offer bearings to the other traffic jostling for airspace in close proximity, so instead they use a procedural service to keep the aircraft away from each other and deconflicted from artillery and rocket fire.

 

They use a specific set of instructions, which include where it is safe to climb or descend, what is working in and around the jets, and any updated information on their new mission. Again, they may be surprised to catch the Scottish Highland tones of the Tactical Air Director, part of a similarly small group of ABMs augmenting the current Marine Air Support Squadron based in Helmand.

 

With ground units ready to engage and close air support poised overhead, a shout from a Joint Terminal Attack Controller for a 'show of force' ramps up the tension.

 

The process of getting the two Tornados close to the surface begins; the pilots will be accelerating while descending to 100ft (31m) above the terrain, a manoeuvre that generates shock and awe intended to scare and discourage the insurgents from continuing their attack.

 

Co-ordination is vital with the Helicopter Director to ensure that the airspace is clear of helicopters and tactical remotely piloted air systems which are supporting the fight in a nearby area.

A request soon follows for a MEDEVAC - the evacuation of injured people - from the same location. More instructions are passed to the jets, indicating the single safe route to descend and climb, before switching to the Joint Terminal Attack Controller on the ground. The MEDEVAC helicopter lifts off, its injured passengers already receiving critical care on board, and is cleared direct to the hospital at Camp Bastion as a priority. The atmosphere is tense and the chatter continues to increase with the pushing of information to those who need to know. As the jets climb and the helicopters depart, the sombre realities of this campaign settle in, but not for long… as it's all about to start again.

 

Flight Lieutenant Lynn, a Tactical Air and Helicopter Director, said:

"The challenge of deconflicting extremely tight and congested airspace, without the use of radar, is exhilarating. Just when you think you have a solid plan, a Troops-in-Contact or Medical Emergency Response Team [MERT] mission crops up and you have to dynamically rework it to ensure continuous support to the guys on the ground. The Trade Group 12 operators play a significant role in managing the remotely piloted air system assets and highlighting any flaws in the Director's plan, ensuring a safe and permissive operating environment."

Although they are two separate entities, the link between the teams at Leatherneck and DASC is seamless, with the operators utilising a number of different systems to communicate securely and transfer assets between their areas of responsibility. In the event that either unit loses its communications systems the other acts as an immediate back up, albeit in a limited capacity.

 

Meanwhile, back at Leatherneck, a request comes in for a shot from the Multiple Launch Rocket System, based nearby, to be fired deep into the Green Zone of the Helmand Valley.

 

The surveillance team plots the airspace the rockets will fly through; plotting them incorrectly could be disastrous, so care and speed must be balanced.

 

As soon as the area pops up on the system, the remotely piloted air systems and the fixed-wing controller go to work; clearing all assets out of the affected sky, the traffic director waits to see a thumbs-up from them both before letting everyone know that the skies are clear.

 

The sight and sound of the rockets firing reminds everyone of the critical task they're undertaking, but there is no time to dwell - the next task is already brewing.

 

The high-pressure and intense working environment forms a tight-knit community and the camaraderie between the two Services is excellent, engendering a 'one team - one fight' ethos.

 

The USMC Tactical Control Detachment Commander, Major Mark Micke, said:

"The RAF ASACS personnel make an excellent contribution to operations on a daily basis and provide vital continuity during the biannual US Marine Corps personnel replacement periods."

Squadron Leader Kane added:

"I am extremely proud to command the men and women deployed here from the RAF Aerospace Battle Management community."

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25 septembre 2011 7 25 /09 /septembre /2011 16:40

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25.09.2011 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense

 

Je n'ai toujours pas découvert le nombre exact de "spy blimps" déployés en Afghanistan. Les "spy blimps"? Ce sont ces ballons d'observation équipés d'optique Wescam et autres systèmes de détection (des PTDS: "Persistent Threat Detection System") qui traquent le taliban.

 

L'un de ces ballons m'avait intrigué en mai lors de mon séjour dans la FOB Hutnik (photo ci-dessus). Et comme les GI's affectés à cet équipement n'étaient pas des plus loquaces, je m'étais promis de creuser la question. Combien sont déployés? "Des dizaines" selon des sources américaines (on parle de 37). Une quinzaine selon un confrère US. En tout cas, entre 2009 et 2011, leur nombre aurait été multiplié par dix, comme le démontrent les besoins en hélium!

 

Ce que j'ai, en revanche, découvert, grâce à un sujet lu sur le site Danger Zone (cliquer ici pour lire le papier des confrères US), c'est la pénurie d'hélium que l'US Army essaie d'enrayer. La demande a explosé entre 2009 et 2011, atteignant 531 000m3.

 

Et cette pénurie risque d'entraver la mise en place des "Long Endurance Multi Intelligence Vehicle" de Northrop Grumman dont deux exemplaires vont être déployés en Afghanistan. Ces LEMV sont "plus long qu'un terrain de foot" et hauts comme un bâtiment de 7 étages! Et gourmands: 23 000 m3 à deux!

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24 septembre 2011 6 24 /09 /septembre /2011 16:55

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September 23rd, 2011 DEFENSETECH

 

While on a tour of Boeing’s V-22 assembly line Wednesday, DT learned that Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Ospreys performed an impressive combat search and rescue mission in June 2010 — nearly one year before USMC MV-22s rescued the pilot of that F-15E Strike Eagle that crashed in Libya in March.

 

Here are the details of the operation as relayed to DT by Bill Sunick, Boeing’s manager of V-22 business development.

On June 1, 2010 a helo carrying 32 people went down during a special operations raid near Kunduz in Northeast Afghanistan. A severe dust storm and the Hindu Kush mountain range foiled attempts by other helos to reach the stranded crew and passengers who were under small arms and mortar fire. Two CV-22s from the 8th Special Operations Squadron launched out of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan within two hours of being alerted and flew 400-miles straight to the site — over the 15,000-foot mountains and through “very low visibility”  – and back to Kandahar with the 32 stranded troops in less than four hours.

 

 

“There was a mountain range in between” the American bases at Bagram and Kandahar “so conventional rotorcraft would have had to snake through the valleys and whatnot,” said Sunick. “V-22 flew over them. The guys went up, they went on oxygen, went over the mountains, went direct as the crow flies and then when they were coming close the weather was extremely bad, I think they had less than a quarter-mile visibility. Now you’ve got your [terrain following radar] sniffing things out for you, giving you a clear picture and so the guys were able to go in there. It was a hot LZ, they were under fire, they landed, picked all they guys up — 32 folks crammed in the back of the airplane — and they got out of Dodge and made it back.”

 

To put things in perspective, the Libyan rescue mission was about 260-nautical miles, round-trip.

 

Now, the V-22 had its share of development problems [nightmares, at times] and it’s still working through problems with fine sand wearing down engine parts faster than engineers would like and it’s mission ready rates when deployed are roughly 70 percent. Still,  you can’t argue that the speed and ranges at which the bird flies combined with its VTOL abilities make it invaluable for missions like this.

 

(This post is adapted from a broader V-22 piece that we ran yesterday. I thought the rescue mission warranted its own write up.)

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22 septembre 2011 4 22 /09 /septembre /2011 18:10

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Sep 22, 2011 by Staff Sgt. John Wright455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs / ASDNews Source : US Air Force

 

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan - The 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron recently filled its ranks with C-130J Hercules aircraft and aircrews as two new units joined the squadron.

 

Almost two dozen C-130Js and a full complement of aircrew and maintenance personnel, split between California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing and Rhode Island Air National Guard's 143rd Airlift Wing, replaced C-130H-model Guard units from Alaska and New York.

 

"Our mission is airlift and airdrop to all the forward operating bases within country," said Lt. Col. Bill Willson, the 774th EAS commander and a C-130J pilot. "The primary way the forward operating bases get supplies is by airlift or airdrop. We are their lifeline of sustainment."

 

The previous Guard units Willson's crews replaced maintained consistently high, fully mission capable and sortie effectiveness rates, but his people are ready to tackle the challenge and set the bar even higher since the C-130J model is considered the "latest and greatest."

 

In their first month, Airmen with the 774th EAS flew more than 900 sorties with a 99.9 percent sortie effectiveness rate, completing approximately 40 airdrops and delivering more than 3,100 tons of cargo.

 

The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology to reduce manpower requirements, lower operating and support costs. The aircrafts' improved engines enables the J model to climb faster and higher, fly farther at a higher cruise speed, and take off and land in a shorter distance. It is15 feet longer than the H model, increasing usable space in the cargo compartment.

 

"These airplanes are considerably more capable than the H model," Willson said. "It's the equivalent of adding an additional engine and two pallet positions. It can carry approximately 40 percent more load, giving us a much higher fully mission capable rate. We can actually do the same job with 10 Js that it takes 15 Hs to do."

 

Willson said one of the more significant improvements is the ability to more accurately airdrop from high altitudes, which makes it safer for the aircrews, especially in the area of operations.

 

"We have the capability of doing a joint precision airdrop system drop that requires dropping a Sonde out of the airplane," Willson said.

 

A Sonde is a device attached to a parachute that takes wind readings every 500 feet and transmits the information back to the aircraft. At that point, the airplane's computers determine a computed air release point.

 

They fly to the CARP, which is accurate to within one meter, and let the bundles out, Willson said.

 

The automated systems, like the JPADS Sonde airdrop, make the job smoother for the 774th EAS loadmasters like Master Sgt. Jessica Barry.

 

"The J makes my job much easier," Barry said. "We have a computer that controls our load plan. We also have electric locks as opposed to ratchet locks. It's a very efficient 'push button' system."

 

As a loadmaster, Barry is responsible for configuring and overseeing the loading of people and cargo onto the aircraft. However, even though the J model makes the job easier, Barry said the job has unique challenges in Afghanistan.

 

Ordinarily, the cargo and airdrop bundles are planned well in advance and a computer comes up with how it should be loaded on the aircraft.

 

"In this deployed environment, we get a lot of last-minute requests to add cargo," Barry said. "So, we have to manually figure out how to accommodate the additional weight. We don't mind though. It's very rewarding knowing we're getting the troops on the ground what they need."

 

While Willson and Barry comprise the aircrew, the people who make sure the planes are fit to fly are maintainers like Master Sgt. Jason Sturtevant, a C-130J crew chief.

 

As a maintainer, Sturtevant services and works on any discrepancies on the aircraft. He performs, preflight, postflight and throughflight inspections.

 

"We do everything from servicing hydraulic fluid to liquid oxygen," Sturtevant said. "Basically, we look at the entire aircraft and its systems."

 

The 20-year veteran said the challenges of his job include parts supply and high-operations tempo, but, like Barry, he diligently works through the problems. He said in the end, he finds the job highly rewarding.

 

"I love watching these planes fly, knowing I'm helping the guys on the ground," he said. "I feel like I'm directly contributing to the fight. I also take pride in keeping my aircrews safe."

 

While the 774th EAS is composed of Air National Guard Airmen from different units and varying walks of life, they have deployed together since 2004 and consider themselves one big family.

 

"We complement each other very well," Willson said. "One of the nice things about the Guard is you stay with the same people for sometimes decades. Most of the pilots here I have flown with for 20 years."

 

The continuity that comes with working with the same people for so long is something the loadmasters and maintainers tout as the reason they operate like a well-oiled machine.

 

"There is a great chemistry here," Barry said. "These guys are great to work with."

 

Sturtevant echoed the loadmaster's words.

 

"We maintainers mesh very well," the sergeant said. "They are very easy to work with. I noticed as soon as we got here, everybody just wanted to work together."

 

Willson also noted the sense of pride and dedication his unit has for the work they perform.

 

"We all recognize the importance of coming here to do this mission." Willson said. "We have a tremendous sense of patriotism. Most of these people have very well-paying jobs on the outside, yet they still come here. They do this because they want to. The love of wearing the uniform and doing the job outweighs everything else."

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22 septembre 2011 4 22 /09 /septembre /2011 18:05

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Sep 22, 2011 By Staff Sgt. John Zumer, Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division / ASDNews Source : US Army

 

PAKTIYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Sept. 20, 2011 -- Firing an artillery piece may look no more complex than aiming, placing the desired shell and charge in the breech, and firing.

 

Talk to Staff Sgt. Stephen Dunn, however, and it's quickly apparent that necessary accuracy and safety make the process far more complicated than meets the eye.

 

Dunn, a fire directional control sergeant with 1st Platoon, Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, is entrusted with ensuring that shells fired by his platoon's M119 howitzers from Combat Outpost Wilderness go where they need to, when they need to.

 

For Dunn and the other soldiers of his battery, the importance of artillery, long known as the "King of Battle" for its ability to quickly influence combat outcomes, can't be overstated. Its objective as far as he's concerned can be summed up quickly and succinctly.

 

"The goal of the field artillery is accurate first-round fire for effect," said Dunn.

 

His Soldiers have fired more than 1,200 rounds at the enemy since arriving in eastern Afghanistan nine months ago. High explosive, smoke and illumination rounds have been the three shells most commonly used.

 

Three large factors always enter the equation before any firing. A collateral damage estimate is made to gauge the risk, if any, to friendly troops or civilians. Second, topography is taken in consideration, as mountain ranges or drops in elevation may result in a target distance being greater or less than straight-line distance. Finally, air clearance must be obtained to prevent rounds from not only being deflected from targets, but potentially causing harm to friendly aircraft.

 

Tension rises when lives of fellow Soldiers come into play, according to Dunn.

 

"When troops are in contact, it's more stressful because of the need to be even more accurate with our fire," he added.

 

Sending a round downrange, however, is far more than just a one-man job. A coordinated effort between forward observers, Dunn's fire control team, battlefield commanders, and the gun pit featuring the M119s is the defined chain of command necessary to ensure success. Needed discussion within the precious minutes available before firing may occur, but it's a process understood by everyone down to the most junior member.

 

The process is so well understood that, according to Spc. Anthony McLeod, a fire directional control specialist with 1st Platoon, Alpha Battery, everyone from fire control personnel down to the howitzers could fill in for each other in a pinch.

 

Dunn agrees.

 

"All my personnel are cross-trained," he said.

 

Missions are usually broken down into two main types, those of counter-fire or troops in contact. They're distinguished such in that a counter-fire mission is a response to enemy fire originating from some distance away, while a troops in contact mission requires artillery fire to decide the issue quickly and decisively.

 

Whatever the nature of the mission is, however, real success comes down to much more than a pat on the back or publicity for a job well done. Helping those on the ground who need it most is the most important thing, and always will be, said McLeod.

 

"A successful fire gives me the satisfaction of doing my part on the mission," he said.

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22 septembre 2011 4 22 /09 /septembre /2011 06:45

http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/predator-uav/images/PredatorB_3.jpg

source airforce-technology.com

 

Sept. 20, 2011 defense-unmanned.com

(Source: Italian Air Force; dated Sept. 15, web-posted Sept. 20, 2011)

(Issued in Italian only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)

 

The Predator unmanned aircraft of Task Group 'Astore,' part of the Joint Air Task Force in Herat, Afghanistan, have reached the 7,000 flying hour mark, the result of 800 missions completed since 2007 that have decisively helped the country's transition process.

 

The Italian Air Force Predators, thanks to their characteristics that combine low visibility and long endurance over their target, are used increasingly for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

 

In particular, their use has allowed the verification and control of development and security in Afghan territory and the cooperation with ISAF troops on ground operations.

 

Task Group 'Astore' is part of the Joint Air Task Force (JATF) based in Herat (Afghanistan) and commanded by Colonel Gianluca Ercolani.

 

The Predator is an unmanned airplane that can fly at altitudes of up to 8,000 meters for over 20 consecutive hours. It has onboard sensors that, remotely operated by personnel in the ground station, allow taping of electro-optical and infrared video footage of the area, which are then transmitted in real time to an operator for interpretation.

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21 septembre 2011 3 21 /09 /septembre /2011 06:30

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Photographed by Adrian Pingstone

 

September 20, 2011. David Pugliese - Defence Watch

 

From Alenia:

 

Washington, DC – September 20, 2011 – Alenia North America, a subsidiary of Alenia Aeronautica and part of the Finmeccanica group, announced that it has delivered aircraft 12, 13 and 14 of the 20 G222 aircraft ordered by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF). One aircraft deployed to Kabul earlier this month and the second and third will deploy before the end of September.  These aircraft will continue to be used by the USAF and the AAF to conduct mission operations in Afghanistan.

 

The AAF G222 fleet has flown over 4,700 hours. The missions have been dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, MEDEVAC and security to Afghanistan.

 

Two of the G222 that have been delivered to the AFF are in a VIP configuration; these aircraft have already been used to support VIP transport within the country.

 

“Alenia North America is looking forward to continuing to be involved in the G222 program in future years,” said John Young, chief executive officer of Alenia North America. “The G222 has become the backbone of the country’s growing Air Force and has provided vital support to ongoing missions in Afghanistan.”

 

About the G222 AAF Program

 

Alenia North America is under contract with the United States Air Force to supply 20 refurbished G222 aircraft for the AAF. The refurbished aircraft are in use by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and will be transferred by the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan (NATC-A) in Kabul to the reconstituted AAF.

 

Alenia North America, as prime contractor, is responsible for program management and management of logistics support while the aircraft are being refurbished and modernized by its parent company Alenia Aeronautica in its Capodichino facility near Naples, Italy. Additionally, Alenia North America is responsible for providing contract logistics support and contractor operated and maintained base supply operations for the G222 program in Afghanistan.

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21 septembre 2011 3 21 /09 /septembre /2011 06:25

http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551d9d3fd883301543592925b970c-800wi

source WOTN

 

9/19/2011  By Cpl. Justin M. Boling  , 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)  - WOTN

 

 CAMP BASTION Afghanistan  — When supplies run thin at forward operating bases peppering the Helmand River valley, reassurance often comes with the strong hum of a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules

.

Bastion Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan-U.S. Marines with 2D Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) load cargo onto a KC-130J Super Hercules airplane, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, September 5, 2011. VMGR-252 conducted an aerial drop to re-supply ground troops with necessary supplies of ammunition, food, and water., Staff Sgt. James R. Richardson, 9/5/2011 5:57 PM

 

“Providing aerial resupplies is one of our primary missions,” said Capt. Sergio Luna, a KC-130J Hercules pilot with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152. “We have been flying out a lot of supplies and putting a lot of energy into getting ground forces in Afghanistan what they need.”

 

The counterinsurgency in southwestern Afghanistan relies on U.S. Marines and their coalition partners who live at small outposts among Afghan towns and villages. The Marines patrol village streets assisting Afghan citizens and police forces to stand on their own.

 

However, these small outposts are often largely cutoff from the outside world and can be difficult to reach by convoy. Marine aviators use the Hercules aircraft to drop supplies by parachute, allowing ground troops to stay in the fight with water, food and ammunition.

 

“I feel that the most important factor of conducting aerial resupplies is the fact you are saving lives,” said Lance Cpl. Shane Johnson, a Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 loadmaster, and native of Green Bay, Wis. “We are giving supplies to those who need them and keeping motor transportation Marines on the ground from being put into harm’s way.”

 

In addition to being immune to the threat of improvised explosive devices that could hinder a ground supply convoy’s progress, aerial drops deliver supplies faster without limitation from geographical obstacles.

 

“Our KC-130J is excellent for delivering large amounts of supplies quickly to where they are needed most,” said Luna, a native of Redmond, Wash. “We can get to areas and perform drops at speeds and places convoys can only dream about.”

 

The KC-130J Hercules is the largest aircraft in the Marine Corps arsenal. The propeller-driven, fixed-wing behemoth is the latest iteration of an airframe the U.S. military has relied on for more than 50 years.

 

The Marine Corps uses the Hercules for troop and supply transport throughout southwestern Afghanistan, as well as battlefield illumination during coalition night operations. The KC-130J also serves as an aerial refueling platform for Marine Attack Squadron 513’s AV-8B Harrier attack jets.

 

KC-130J support in Afghanistan comes from a combined unit made up of of three Marine aerial refueler transport squadron’s detachments from Miramar, Calif.; Okinawa, Japan; and Cherry Point, N.C.

 

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, out of Cherry Point, currently serves as the command element for the deployed detachment. The Cherry Point troops work daily with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 Marines, deployed from Okinawa.

 

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, deployed from Miramar, operates the specially equipped Harvest HAWK KC-130J, which in addition to typical Hercules duties, is also capable of providing close-air support with its advanced targeting system and air-to-ground missiles.

 

 "This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate that we are a team. We deliver supplies to all those fighting the insurgency,” said Luna.

 

The ability to move life-sustaining supplies safely and efficiently keeps Marines on the ground fighting. The Marines of the aerial refueler transport squadron said they understand the importance of their missions, and use the strength of the Hercules to get the supplies and equipment where they are needed most.

 

 “We can load up to 30,000 pounds of water and other supplies, which can be lifted and delivered to our forces on the ground in a single drop,” said Johnson. “I have been on more drops than I can count. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of stuff that we have given to troops and will continue to get them in the future.”

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