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9 décembre 2015 3 09 /12 /décembre /2015 08:35
Lockheed Martin Selected to Help Australia’s Future Pilots Take Flight

 

Canberra, Australia, Dec. 9, 2015 Lockheed Martin

 

Lockheed Martin, Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific Contracted to Deliver AIR 5428 Pilot Training System

 

The Australian Department of Defence has awarded the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System contract to Lockheed Martin-led Team 21 to train the next generation of Australian Defence Force pilots.

The initial seven year program is valued at AU$1.2 billion. Performance-based options for up to 25 years will provide the opportunity to extend the length and increase the value of the total contract. Lockheed Martin will lead the delivery of an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.

“We are honoured to partner with Australia to deliver a comprehensive training solution that is customised for their needs and focused on fifth-generation mission readiness,” said Jon Rambeau, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin Training and Logistics Solutions. “Our proven, innovative training system will help the Australian Defence Force meet the challenge of preparing pilots to perform in today’s complex global environment.”

As prime contractor, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management for the pilot training system and deliver a family of integrated ground-based training technologies.

“Our approach will be tailored to the particular needs of Australia’s future defence requirements and will leverage proven turn-key training capabilities from Lockheed Martin, as well as those of our partners – Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific,“ said Raydon Gates, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand.

Pilatus Aircraft will provide PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support. Hawker Pacific will provide maintenance services and fleet support and leverage its established supply chain in Australia.

With this selection, Australia joins Singapore in employing Lockheed Martin-led integrated turn-key training solutions. As a performance-based system, turn-key training provides increased pilot competency, shorter training times and lower training cost. Team 21 is in the ninth year of a 20-year performance-based flight training contract to provide the Basic Wings Course to the Republic of Singapore Air Force, at Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce in Western Australia.

For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com.au/readiness

 

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that - with the addition of Sikorsky - employs approximately 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

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12 novembre 2015 4 12 /11 /novembre /2015 13:35
Successful Delivery of the 75th PC-7 MkII to the Indian AF

 

Nov 11, 2015 ASDNews Source : Pilatus Aircraft Ltd

 

The successful handover of the 75th Pilatus PC-7 MkII Training Aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal marks the final aircraft delivery milestone under the contract between Pilatus and the Government of India’s Ministry of Defence which was signed on the 24th of May 2012. The introduction of the PC-7 MkII Training System has enabled the IAF to revolutionise their basic pilot training capability.

 

The arrival of the first of 75 Pilatus PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft in February 2013 signified the beginning of a new era for pilot training in the IAF.

 

Commenting on the delivery of the 75th aircraft with its “commemorative livery”, Jim Roche VP Government Aviation & Deputy CEO of Pilatus says:

 

“We are extremely pleased to have completed delivery of all PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft well ahead of the original IAF schedule requirement. Delivering and supporting the IAF’s Basic Flight Training requirements has been a remarkable experience and we remain fully committed to supporting the fleet’s in-service operations with equal efficiency and competence.”

 

The PC-7 MkII trainer aircraft has achieved some outstanding performance benchmarks at Dundigal. Since the first delivery in February 2013, the PC-7 MkII fleet has flown more than 40,000 hours and accumulated well over 80,000 landings.

 

The PC-7 MkII has enabled the IAF to increase the basic training syllabus in terms of flight hours by 220 percent compared to previous operations and also increase the solo content from 1 to 14 sorties. The PC-7 MkII Training System has successfully proven its effectiveness and validates the decision by the IAF to operate the most advanced Basic Flight Training aircraft in the world – the PC-7 MkII.

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2 mars 2015 1 02 /03 /mars /2015 12:35
Pilatus PC-7 Mk.2 - photo Livefist

Pilatus PC-7 Mk.2 - photo Livefist

 

February 28, 2015 by Shiv Arror - Livefist


The Indian Ministry of Defence has just approved the Indian Air Force's move to exercise options on its original basic trainer deal (for 75 aircraft) with Pilatus Aircraft and will shortly sign up for 38 more. Of a total of 181 basic trainers the IAF has said it needs, the original Pilatus PC-7 Mk.2 order takes care of 75 aircraft.

The remaining 106 aircraft were to be HAL's in-development HTT-40 propeller trainer that's all set to take-off for the first time this month. With the IAF approved to exercise options on 38 more PC-7s, HAL's platform will meet the remaining requirement: 68 aircraft. Indications are, however, that that number will be cranked up to make the project more viable in the near term.

An IAF-HAL-MoD committee is being set up to monitor the HTT-40 programme. The HTT-40 prototype is all set for its first flight in June.

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24 février 2015 2 24 /02 /février /2015 12:30
Sortie d’assemblage pour le 100ème PC-21 de Pilatus

 

23 février Aerobuzz.fr

 

Le 100ème PC-21 est sorti de la chaine d’assemblage finale de Pilatus, le 20 février. Il s’agit aussi du 1.000ème Turbopop Trainer produit par le constructeur suisse. Cet appareil sera livré aux forces aériennes saoudiennes qui en ont commandé 55 exemplaires destinés à la formation de leurs pilotes. Trois autres pays utilisent déjà le PC-21 pour la formation : la Suisse qui en possède 8, Singapour (19) et les Emirats Arabes Unis (25). La Qatar en a commandé 24 exemplaires en 2012.

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29 mars 2014 6 29 /03 /mars /2014 17:50
Gripen: accord entre Pilatus et Saab sur des achats compensatoires

 

 

28.03.2014 Romandie.com (ats)

 

En cas d'achat du Gripen par la Suisse, l'avionneur helvétique Pilatus vendra à l'armée suédoise une vingtaine d'avions d'entraÎnement PC-21. L'entreprise nidwaldienne et le constructeur suédois Saab ont du moins signé un accord de principe en ce sens, conditionné à un "oui" du peuple suisse à l'achat des 22 Gripen.

 

A Pilatus PC-21 trainer demonstrator Photo Arpingstone.

A Pilatus PC-21 trainer demonstrator Photo Arpingstone.

L'accord entre Pilatus et Saab prévoit en outre que l'assemblage d'avions Pilatus et Saab soit réalisé en Suisse sur un site encore non défini, indique vendredi le constructeur nidwaldien basé à Stans. Cette étape de construction correspondrait à une centaine de places de travail.

 

L'installation d'un centre de développement informatique est également prévue en Suisse en cas de feu vert du peuple au Gripen. Les deux constructeurs pourraient y développer des programmes informatiques touchant à la sécurité aérienne, ainsi que des systèmes guidés au sol.

 

Une telle collaboration pourrait générer des entrées de commandes pour un total d'un demi-milliard de francs en faveur de Pilatus sur les cinq à huit prochaines années. L'ensemble des achats compensatoires liés à l'acquisition du Gripen atteint 2,5 milliards de francs.

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22 décembre 2013 7 22 /12 /décembre /2013 12:50
Remise du brevet par le général Roos, représentant le CEMAA

Remise du brevet par le général Roos, représentant le CEMAA

 

19/12/2013 Adjudant Jean-Laurent Nijean - armée de l'air

 

Mercredi 11 décembre 2013, une cérémonie de « brevêtation » (terme suisse désignant le macaronnage) s’est déroulée à Brünnen, petite localité de Suisse centrale dans le canton de Schwytz.

 

Macaronnage made in Suisse

 

« J’ai été agréablement surpris par le cadre magnifique. Brünnen est  une ville nichée au bord du lac des Quatre-Cantons, au milieu des montagnes », s’enthousiasme le capitaine Vincent Burgart, premier élève-pilote formé selon le cursus en vigueur dans les forces aériennes suisses. Pour l’occasion, le général Philippe Roos de la direction des ressources humaines de l’armée de l’air a représenté le général Denis Mercier, chef d’état-major de l’armée de l’air (CEMAA). Cette cérémonie a marqué la fin d’une formation de deux ans. « Les Suisses sont très attachés aux traditions et à la famille. Lors de la cérémonie, chacun d’entre nous a remis une rose à sa mère. Elles ont également été mises à l’honneur lors du discours d’ouverture », rappelle le jeune breveté qui vient de poser ses valises à l’escadron de chasse 1/7 « Provence » de Saint-Dizier.

 

Un aviateur formé à l’heure suisse

 

La première phase, d’une durée de dix mois, s’est déroulée sur l’avion d’entraînement Pilatus PC-7. Lors de la seconde phase, les futurs pilotes de chasse sont formés à bord du Pilatus PC-21, un turbopropulseur à hélice. « Cet avion, qui possède un Mission Computer évolué, présente un système d’arme personnalisé en fonction de l’avion de chasse que nous piloterons, détaille le capitaine Burgart. Lors de nos entraînements, nous pouvons simuler le tir air-air et le tir air-sol. »

 

La formation prodiguée en Suisse au capitaine Burgart permet à l’armée de l’air d’obtenir des éléments d’appréciation qui lui serviront dans la définition du futur syllabus d’entraînement en France.

 

Vers une réforme de l’entraînement du pilote de chasse

 

Pour faire face à la réduction du format de l’aviation de combat à l’horizon 2016, le général Mercier s’oriente vers la différenciation de l'entraînement mise en place au travers du projet Cognac 2016. « La refonte de l'entraînement et de la formation des pilotes de chasse dans le cadre du projet Cognac 2016 est fondamentale, a déclaré le CEMAA lors d’une allocution au Sénat. Ce projet s'appuie sur l'acquisition d'avions d'entraînement turbopropulsés de dernière génération. Il permettrait en outre de diminuer significativement les coûts de fonctionnement de la flotte école de l’armée de l’air. Ils nous permettront de mieux former nos jeunes pilotes et de mettre en œuvre le principe d'un entraînement différencié qui garantira notre aptitude à assurer les missions les plus exigeantes et à soutenir les opérations dans la durée, malgré la diminution de nos formats. »

 

Les réflexions menées prévoient de réduire le nombre de phases et de les étendre. La base aérienne de Cazaux accueillera toujours l’ultime phase de la formation du pilote de chasse.

 

Un point sur la différenciation de l’entraînement

 

La différenciation vise à constituer, au sein de l’aviation de chasse, deux cercles : un « cœur » constitué de 240 pilotes appelés à voler sur Rafale et à exercer toutes les missions, et un deuxième cercle, d’une cinquantaine d’aviateurs, dont l’activité sur Rafale sera réduite mais compensée par des heures de simulateur et de vols sur des avions d’entraînement turbopropulsés de dernière génération. Les pilotes de ce deuxième cercle exerceront les fonctions d’instructeur et pourront, à la suite d’une remontée en puissance programmée, rejoindre les pilotes du premier cercle pour participer à certains types de mission.

 

Premier pilote de chasse français formé en SuissePremier pilote de chasse français formé en Suisse
Premier pilote de chasse français formé en SuissePremier pilote de chasse français formé en Suisse
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21 novembre 2013 4 21 /11 /novembre /2013 08:30
Pilatus orders Esterline avionics for Saudi and Qatar air forces’ aircraft

A Pilatus PC-21 trainer demonstrator lands at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire, England. Photo Arpingstone.

 

20 November 2013 airforce-technology.com

 

Esterline CMC Electronics (CMC) has been selected to supply its latest generation CMA-9000 flight management system (FMS) and SparrowHawk head-up display (HUD) sub-systems to Pilatus Aircraft.

 

The high-performance avionics are scheduled to be installed onboard the PC-21 turboprop training aircraft intended for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).

 

Pilatus is scheduled to supply a total of 55 and 24 PC-21 trainers, along with integrated ground based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package, to RSAF and QEAF as part of contracts signed in May and July 2012, respectively.

 

Esterline CMC Government and Public Affairs Sales vice-president Jean-Michel Comtois said, ''Esterline CMC is very proud to supply its high-performance avionics for the PC-21 aircraft, given Pilatus's prestigious reputation, product line and the unique profile of the PC-21.''

 

Featuring advanced tactical functions, radio management and night vision goggle (NGV)-capability, the CMA-9000 is a compact FMS designed for installation in modern digital cockpits of both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

"The CMA-9000 is a compact FMS designed for installation in modern digital cockpits of both fixed and rotary wing aircraft."

 

The SparrowHawk HUD is a complete weapons delivery system offering a powerful, cost-effective solution that can increase pilots' aiming envelope, and allows for pinpoint accuracy and a greater combat safety margin.

 

Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B turboprop engine, the PC-21 is a low-wing swept-monoplane advanced trainer aircraft designed to fulfil the requirements for basic, advanced and fighter lead-in training for pilots and, if required, weapon systems officers (WSO).

 

The aircraft features a fully digital glass cockpit with head-up displays, an up-front control panel (UFPC), hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) control and full-sized multi-function displays, to enable the basic and advanced flying training to keep pace with the fourth generation aircraft already in service in the front line squadrons.

 

Apart from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Singapore, Switzerland and the UAE.

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19 juillet 2013 5 19 /07 /juillet /2013 11:35
photo Livefist

photo Livefist

15/07/2013 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

Pilatus a annoncé que la formation de l’armée de l’air indienne sur PC-7 MkII avait débuté le 8 juillet dernier à l’Indian Air Force Academy de Dundigal. Ce sont pour l’instant huit « cadets » qui participent à la formation.

 

L’industriel suisse Pilatus et l’Indian Air Force avaient signé un contrat en mai 2012 pour la fabrication et la livraison de 75 avions d’entraînement basique PC-7 MkII, pour plus de 400 millions d’euros. Quatorze avions ont été livrés depuis, l’admission au service actif ayant elle été prononcée le 31 mai dernier.

 

Le Pilatus PC-7 MkII est en service depuis 1994. Motorisé par un PT6A-25C de Pratt & Whitney, l’avion d’entraînement basique partage la même cellule et le même système avionique que le PC-9M.

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19 juillet 2013 5 19 /07 /juillet /2013 11:35
photo Livefist

photo Livefist

15/07/2013 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

Pilatus a annoncé que la formation de l’armée de l’air indienne sur PC-7 MkII avait débuté le 8 juillet dernier à l’Indian Air Force Academy de Dundigal. Ce sont pour l’instant huit « cadets » qui participent à la formation.

 

L’industriel suisse Pilatus et l’Indian Air Force avaient signé un contrat en mai 2012 pour la fabrication et la livraison de 75 avions d’entraînement basique PC-7 MkII, pour plus de 400 millions d’euros. Quatorze avions ont été livrés depuis, l’admission au service actif ayant elle été prononcée le 31 mai dernier.

 

Le Pilatus PC-7 MkII est en service depuis 1994. Motorisé par un PT6A-25C de Pratt & Whitney, l’avion d’entraînement basique partage la même cellule et le même système avionique que le PC-9M.

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11 juin 2013 2 11 /06 /juin /2013 12:35
 photo Livefist

photo Livefist

07/06/2013 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter

 

The Indian Air Force's first 12 Pilatus PC-7 MkII basic trainers were formally accepted into service during a recent ceremony at Dundigal Air Force Base.

 

Present was Jitendra Singh - the Indian Minister of State for Defense - who described the turboprop training aircraft's arrival on the scene as "a very important landmark in our nation's quest for modernising its armed forces." He added: "The need to train pilots on modern trainers is crucial to prepare them for the requirements of combat flying."

 

Introduced in 1978, the Pilatus PC-7 is a major success story among ab initio training aircraft. Over 30 air arms have pressed the PC-7 into service and the Indian Air Force's selection of the upgraded Mk11 version followed a rigorous evaluation process.

 

Alongside the aircraft themselves, the Indian Air Force will also receive an associated ground-based training system and in-depth logistics support.

 

PC-7 MkII Trainer

 

The Pilatus PC-7 MkII trainer made its debut in 1994 and, according to its manufacturer, no other turboprop training aircraft can match its engine operating costs.

 

In company documentation, Pilatus writes that the PC-7 MkII has a maximum rate of climb of 2,910 feet a minute, a top speed of 556 kilometres per hour and a maximum range of 1,500 kilometres. A 700 shaft horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C engine drives a four-bladed Hartzell four-bladed propeller, while its cockpit features include ejection seats and anti-G systems.

 

Also included are six under-wing weapons hardpoints, giving the aircraft the ability to take on an armed role, if necessary.

 

Indian Air Force PC-7s

 

Ultimately, the Indian Air Force will get 75 Pilatus PC-7 MkII trainers. They'll be used not only to train future Indian Air Force fast jet pilots but also Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy trainees.

 

"Pilatus will prove to be the ideal platform that will train ab-initio trainees about nuances of basic flying and expose them to modern avionics and navigation aid", Air Chief Marshal N A K Brown stated at the PC-7 MkII's inauguration event. "It will provide a solid foundation and facilitate a seamless transition from ab-initio stage through intermediate and advanced stages into full-fledged operational flying for all streams.

 

He continued: "These aircraft will remain with us for the next 30 to 40 years. We signed a contract in May last year and we already have 12 aircraft. By the time we start the first course in July, we will have 14 aircraft. And by this year end, we will have 30 aircraft in the academy. All the 75 aircraft will be with us by the end of August, 2015."

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2 juin 2013 7 02 /06 /juin /2013 11:35
PHOTOS: IAF Formally Inducts Pilatus Trainers

May 31, 2013 by Shiv Aroor - Livefist

 

More PICS

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2 juin 2013 7 02 /06 /juin /2013 07:30
Saudi Arabian PC-21 – photo Stephan Widmer

Saudi Arabian PC-21 – photo Stephan Widmer

29 May 2013 By Craig Hoyle - FG

 

London - Saudi Arabia's first PC-21 trainer has emerged in its future service livery at Pilatus's Stans manufacturing facility in Switzerland.

 

Drawn from a 55-unit order signed in May 2012, Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft 901 has made its first ground engine runs, ahead of a flight debut that is likely to be performed within the next couple of months. Deliveries to the service will start during 2014, as part of a deal including 22 BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers.

 

Pilatus's current order book for the PC-21 includes 24 examples to be manufactured for Qatar. The type is already in operational service with the air forces of Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

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1 juin 2013 6 01 /06 /juin /2013 18:35
India: IAF Inducts Basic Trainer Aircraft Pilatus PC 7 MKII
1 june 2013 Pacific Sentinel
 
The IAF’s premier Academy located at Dundigal, Hyderabad on 31 May 2013 witnessed the unveiling of Pilatus, PC 7 Mk II, by the honorable Raksha Rajya Mantri, Shri Jitendra Singh thereby formally inducting the aircraft into the service. Three PC-7 MK II aircraft got airborne in a vic formation led by Group Captain RS Nandedkar to put up a brief display for the audience. This marked the first formal flight of the Basic Trainer Aircraft over the skies at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad. This was followed by handing over of technical documents of the aircraft by Air Commodore Nagesh Kapoor, Chief Instructor (Flying) to Hon'ble RRM, Shri Jitendra Singh. 
 
After unveiling the new Basic Trainer aircraft, the Hon'ble Raksha Rajya Mantri said, “The induction of PC-7Mk II as Basic Trainer Aircraft in Indian Air Force is a very important landmark in our nation’s quest to modernise its Armed Forces. 
 
As part of the ongoing transformation, IAF is being equipped with cutting edge technology and state of the art aircraft and systems. However, the need to train our ab-initio pilots on modern trainers is crucial to prepare them for the exacting requirements of combat flying. 
 
With unveiling of Basic Training Aircraft (BTA), we usher in a new era. Imparting high quality flying training to our budding pilots will ensure proficient handling of more sophisticated aircraft in their demanding roles. PC-7 MK-II and its associated training infrastructure comprising of simulators and training modules promises higher safety standards while developing the critical skills in military aviation. The aircraft, with its excellent handling characteristics, user friendly onboard instrumentation and modern navigation systems, is ideally suited for IAF’s training requirements. 
 

 

On behalf of the Government, I assure the nation that no effort will be spared to equip IAF with the latest training aids and infrastructure. Funds will never be an impediment and today’s induction is one such instance to prove this”. 
 
Noting the induction of PC7 MK II as IAF’s Basic Trainer Aircraft to be a proud moment, the Air Chief said, “This event is a significant milestone in IAF’s transformation into a modern multi-spectrum strategic force. It is my responsibility to ensure that our pilots and technicians operate the best trainer in the world, the nation can afford. Pilatus will prove to be the ideal platform that will train the ab-initio trainees about the nuances of basic flying and expose them to modern avionics and nav aids. This trainer will provide a solid foundation and facilitate a seamless transition from ab-initio stage through intermediate and advanced stages into full-fledged operational flying for all streams. 
 
I take this opportunity to thank the government and in particular the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri for recognizing IAF’s urgent training requirements and for extending a very prompt response to the same. A special mention to MoD for providing an active interface with all stakeholders and facilitating fruition of the project in record time.” 
 
The PC-7 MK II aircraft would be used for Basic Training of all pilots of the Indian Air Force, in addition to the pilots of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. Till now this role was performed by the reliable but ageing workhorse, the HJT-16 Kiran aircraft. Ready to receive the new Basic Trainer that will bring in a much awaited augumentation of IAF’s training capacity, a comprehensive infrastructure upgrade is already underway at the Air Force Academy. 
 
A total of 75 aircraft have been contracted from Pilatus, Switzerland. The procurement of PC 7 MkII was approved by the government in May 2012 and the first batch of PC-7 Mk II arrived at the Academy in February this year as a part of accelerated induction plan. The first batch of Flight Cadets would start their training on PC-7 MK II from July onwards. 
 
Also present on the occasion were service and civil dignitaries including Chief Secretary Andhra Pradesh, Dr PK Mohanty, Ambassador of Switzerland Mr Linus Van Castelmur and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command Air Marshal Rajinder Singh.
 
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18 juin 2012 1 18 /06 /juin /2012 17:12
Kenya denies hosting US surveillance aircraft

 

 

18 June 2012 by defenceWeb

 

The Kenyan military has denied that the United States is using its territory or airspace to conduct surveillance flights over Africa, but confirmed the presence of US troops at the Manda Bay naval base.

 

Last week the Washington Post ran a story on US spy flights in Africa and stated that the US military had plans to establish a surveillance base in Kenya, as well as South Sudan. The newspaper went on to say that an engineering battalion of Navy Seabees has been assigned to complete a US$10 million runway upgrade at the Manda Bay naval base.

 

An Africa Command (Africom) spokeswoman said the runway extension was necessary so US C-130 Hercules can land at night and during bad weather. The newspaper said that about 120 US military personnel and contractors are stationed at Manda Bay, which Navy SEALs and other commandos have used as a base from which to conduct raids against Somali pirates and al-Shabaab fighters.

 

The US military in a statement in response to the Washington Post article confirmed that it runs ‘broad ranging’ intelligence operations on the continent and that “the United States routinely works with its African partner nations to counter those who would threaten regional security and stability in Africa.”

 

The US military said it employs its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in Africa “based on security threats of mutual concern.”

 

A spokesman for the Kenyan Defence Forces, Colonel Cyrus Oguna, said he had no knowledge of a US surveillance programme in Kenya. “As far as we are concerned, the US is not using any Kenyan airspace or any bases from where they can be able to launch observation vessels,” Oguna said. “However, I know that we do have bilateral arrangements in terms of sharing information and intelligence to fight terror.”

 

The Washington Post article stated that the United States has established a dozen air bases on the continent since 2007, mainly for surveillance purposes. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports. Surveillance is overseen by US Special Operations forces but relies to a large extent on private military contractors and support from African troops. This allows these operations to fly below the radar. Using Pilatus PC-12 (U-28) surveillance aircraft rather than unmanned aerial vehicles also keeps the profile of these operations low.

 

Africa has emerged as a greater priority for the US government because terrorist groups there have become an increasing threat to US and regional security. The US is concerned about al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), insurgents in Mali, Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria and al Shabaab militia in Somalia. In central Africa, around 100 US special forces are assisting in the hunt for warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

 

The United States has launched air strikes in Somalia and Yemen using unmanned aerial vehicles, but has also deployed F-15E Strike Eagles to Djibouti. However, elsewhere in Africa, military commanders told the Washington Post that their role is generally limited to intelligence gathering and sharing.

 

Some of the bases are in Ethiopia, the Seychelles, Burkina Faso and Uganda. Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, is the only permanent US base in Africa. About 2 000 US personnel are deployed there as part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, many from the Army National Guard.

 

"It's a great strategic location," US Africa Command chief General Carter Ham told the American Forces Press Service. "It facilitates not only our operations for US Africa Command, but also US Central Command and US Transportation Command. It is a very key hub and important node for us, a good location that allows us to extend our reach in East Africa and partner with the countries of East Africa."

 

Ham asked the US Congress last year to support the command’s efforts to expand its intelligence-gathering capabilities in order to monitor terror threats across Africa. He said the main targets are al-Shabab in Somalia, the Lord’s Resistance Army across central Africa and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in the west.

 

In February this year Ham told the House Armed Services Committee that the United States has no plans to seek permanent bases in Africa, and, in the spirit of the new defence strategic guidance, will continue to maintain a "light footprint" on the continent.

 

With no troops directly assigned to it, Africa Command relies heavily on its service components: US Army Africa based in Vicenza, Italy; US Air Forces Africa, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; US Marine Forces Africa and Special Operations Command Africa, both based in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said that there are no plans to relocate Africom’s headquarters to the African continent.

 

Ham said he recognizes concerns among some African countries about an increased U.S. presence on the continent, but emphasized that cost alone would preclude the United States from establishing more permanent bases there.

 

Ham told the American Forces Press Service that a safe, secure and stable Africa is in the United States' national interests, and that Africans are best suited to address African security challenges. "Countering the threats posed by al-Qaeda affiliates in East and Northwest Africa remains my number 1 priority," Ham said.

 

But for security to take hold in Africa for the long-term, Ham also recognizes the importance of strengthening African partners' defence capabilities so they can address their own security challenges. He noted ongoing efforts to increase capacity in peacekeeping, maritime security, disaster response and other key areas. The general noted the value of this investment, from "train-the-trainer" sessions conducted at the tactical level to leader development programs that will have positive long-term strategic implications.

 

"We are planting seeds, if you will, and allowing those to develop and grow," he said, noting that it's all being done with no permanently assigned forces and limited forces on the ground.

 

"I think we get a disproportionate positive effect for a relatively small investment," Ham said. "We don't use lots of troops. Generally, our exercises and engagements are pretty small-scale." They typically involve an individual ship, a small group of Marines, Seabees or veterinarians, or a maintenance detachment, he explained.

 

Earlier it was reported that the United States will have 3 000 soldiers serving in Africa next. The US Army last month announced it would deploy a brigade to Africa in 2013 as part of a pilot programme that assigns brigades on a rotational basis to regions around the globe. At least 3 000 soldiers will serve tours across the continent next year, training foreign militaries and aiding locals.

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