UK opens training centre for Somali National Army

Representatives from Somalia and the UK opened a training centre for the Somali National Army in Baidoa.

Somalia’s Minister of Defence, Hassan Ali Mohammed, Southwest State Speaker, Abdulkadir Shariif Sheekhuna, and the UK Foreign Office’s Political Director, Richard Moore, opened a new UK training facility for the Somali National Army (SNA) in Baidoa. The centre is supported by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and will aim to support long term peace and stability in the region.

The Baidoa Security Training Centre (BSTC) will train around 120 SNA soldiers at a time, providing training in areas including medical skills, equipment care, leadership, human rights, and logistics. British armed forces personnel have been providing training in the country for almost two years.

Ben Fender, British Ambassador to Somalia, said: “The UK is one of the major international providers of support to the Somali National Army. We’re playing a central part in helping the SNA conduct current operations in Lower Shabelle including through giving practical help to the newly recovered areas – like new housing for Sabid community.”

“In Baidoa, the Somali forces we are supporting have been building defensive positions to make the approach roads into the city more secure. This is having a direct impact on the number of attacks in the city and the security of the surrounding area.”

“The SNA are motivated, keen to learn and professional. We are committed to long-term co-operation in order to help Somalia improve security and regain full control over its territory.”

Somali Defence Minister Hasan Ali Mohammed confirmed the country’s commitment to national security and tackling extremism. The centre also aims to improve on the quality of training available to Somali armed forces.

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AERALIS preparing military training aircraft ready for Sixth-Generation

AERALIS is working closely with leading defence primes to ensure that it can deliver the advanced training required for sixth-generation fighter jets.

The United States, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, China and Russia have already announced the development of a sixth-generation aircraft program.

Whilst these conceptual aircraft of the future will undoubtedly share many of the stealth and other technologies of fifth-generation aircraft like the F35, their evermore complex sensor, communication and weapons systems are certain to place even greater demands on the pilot, making training those pilots even more challenging.

In order to manage increasing amounts of data at the same time as flying the aircraft, sixth-generation pilots are set to become increasingly interoperable with the aircraft itself. The integration between human and machine will be one of the dominant features in sixth-generation fighter jet development.

Much of the required skills can be learnt in a benign classroom or simulator environment but the AERALIS training aircraft will enable trainee pilots to bring all the elements together – receiving, interpreting and reporting information whilst flying in possibly poor weather conditions or over difficult terrain.

By incorporating in-cockpit monitoring tools that can track eye movements and measure stress levels in a number of different ways, AERALIS will be able not only to facilitate the training of individual pilots but also build an anonymised database that will significantly enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of future pilot training programmes.

Tim Davies, AERALIS Strategy Director, commented: “Whilst, concepts and designs for the next generation of combat aircraft are still being formulated, debated and tested, the AERALIS Training System is leading the way in putting the pilot first and maximising his or her ability to fly and operate increasingly complex aircraft in preparation for the next evolution in combat aircraft system design.”

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Coventry company wins £63m MOD army vehicle support contract

The Ministry of Defence has awarded a contract worth more than £60m to British industry to maintain the Army’s cutting-edge fleet of armoured vehicles.

NP Aerospace has secured the £63 million contract for the upkeep, update and upgrade of more than 2,200 protected mobility vehicles based in the UK and on operations.

The contract will support approximately 100 jobs in Coventry and 250 jobs across the UK supply chain until 2024. A further 50 jobs will be created at NP Aerospace’s HQ in Foleshill.

These vehicles offer soldiers, medics and other Army personnel protection from mine and ballistic threats as they navigate rough terrains on the battlefield.

The MOD invested £622 million with industry in the West Midlands in 2017/18, sustaining 4900 jobs across the region.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Armoured vehicles save lives on the battlefield and this contract will ensure they are repaired, upgraded and returned to the frontline as quickly as possible.

“This vital contract demonstrates how the MOD benefits every region of the UK by providing hundreds of skilled jobs and multi-million-pound investment to the West Midlands.”

As an example, under this contract, a request could be made by Army personnel in Afghanistan to fit a new loudspeaker to a Foxhound patrol vehicle. NP Aerospace will rapidly design, procure and fit the equipment, as well as providing technical advice throughout the contract period.

Other protected mobility vehicles to benefit from the contract include Mastiff, Wolfhound, Ridgeback, RODET, Jackal, Coyote and Husky vehicles, all of which are currently being used by the British Army for either training or operations in the UK and overseas.

Director Land Equipment for DE&S Major General Colin McClean said: “The Protected Mobility fleet has been hugely important for defence over the last 15 years, saving numerous lives on operations. It is vital that we continue to invest in our battle-winning capabilities, ensuring that they are always ready for training or operational purposes.

“Given its significant role now and in the future, I am pleased we are partnering with NP Aerospace to deliver this contract”.

image © Crown copyright

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SODEXO extends MOD contracts in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands

Sodexo has extended its contracts with the Ministry of Defence to provide a range of support services to the UK’s Armed Forces in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands for a further three years.

In Cyprus, the contract extension, worth €144m, will see the 775 strong Sodexo team continue to provide catering, cleaning, waste services and logistics support at six bases where troops and their families are deployed.  Sodexo has managed the services here since 2007.

Sodexo has been serving the military community in the Falkland Islands since 2001, providing  administration, catering, tailoring, laundry, dry cleaning, office and domestic cleaning services. The turnover of the extended three-year contract is worth £16.3m.

Sodexo has worked with the British military for more than 30 years, focusing on the wellbeing and quality of life of the Armed Forces and their families.

Paul Anstey, CEO, Government & Agencies, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are extremely proud of our support in serving the Armed Forces both at home and overseas in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands.

“Being awarded extensions in these regions reinforces our position as a trusted partner to the Ministry of Defence where we work together in providing a diverse range of services to enhance the quality of life for our service personnel.”

image © Crown Copyright

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DASA launches a fund for open data sharing

DASA has launched a funding stream for open data sharing ideas for defence scenarios.

The funding stream, providing up to £100k through a new open data Innovation Focus Area (IFA) for Defence, was launched on June 4th 2019.
The proliferation of data within the military poses a significant challenge for operators but also presents an opportunity for interpreting differing data sets into meaningful information upon which to make informed and timely decisions.

Entries must:

  • Include a prototype that solves open data problems
  • Work with MOD legacy systems
  • Adhere to security requirements
  • Be cyber resilient and evergreen
  • Deliver as a service as opposed to a system
  • Allow interoperability with open architecture, standards, and open data/document formats
  • Can be accessed by many users simultaneously through a common interface
  • Be available for MOD Accreditation.

Being able to share data with the larger defence community allows it to be analysed and managed much easier. This can better predict the need for equipment and funding.

The funding comes in response to feedback given by those at the DASA ‘Hackathon’. Stakeholders and industry leaders said funding was needed to improve data sharing in Defence.

DASA aims to develop predictive maintenance tools and evidence-based advice for inventory checks to increase the life of tools and components. Interested participants can find out more here.

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World leaders commemorate D-Day landings

Leaders including Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The ceremony in the North of France commemorated the WWII D-Day landings during which 156,000 allied troops landed in Normandy. The invasion allowed allies to liberate parts of France and the Nazis were defeated less than a year later.

The ceremony was also attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The day will also see veteran’s parades in Arromanches and Portsmouth, and an event at the US war cemetery in Coleville-sur-Mer.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come – in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world – that day was the 6th June 1944. More than 156,000 men landed on D-Day – of which 83,000 were from Britain and the Commonwealth.”

“Over a quarter million more supported operations from air and sea – while the French Resistance carried out extraordinary acts of bravery behind enemy lines. Many were terribly wounded. And many more made the ultimate sacrifice that day and in the fierce fighting that followed, as together our allied nations sought to release Europe from the grip of fascism.”

Veterans Harry Read, 95, and John Hutton, 94, recreated parachuting onto the beach after first doing so 75 years ago. May and Macron thanked veterans and a piper played Mulberry Harbour at 06:26, the exact moment soldiers came ashore.

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HMS Duncan joins humanitarian training exercise

Warship HMS Duncan joined a humanitarian training exercise in Cyprus focusing on search and rescue.

The type 45 destroyer joined several other countries in Cyprus for humanitarian training under Exercise Argonaut. The operation focused on search and rescue procedure and international collaboration.

The annual exercise saw countries including Greece, France, and Cyprus training together in a scenario which simulated an aircraft crashing into the water. Duncan’s Wildcat helicopter from Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadron joined the operation.

Air Engineering Technician Rhys Kennedy said: “We have spent some time practising winching while on deployment and had a few days at RAF Akrotiri doing search and rescue training. “

“It was good to be able to use these skills in an almost real-life situation, while at sea with other ships and helicopters. It was more realistic than any training we have done so far while away.”

“It shows the Wildcat’s diversity in what it can be used for.”

Aircraft flew from the ship to rescue ‘casualties’ from US ship USNS Yuma and Cypriot offshore patrol vessel Ioannides and took them to the HMS Duncan for treatment. Other ships and air units were 30 miles offshore to offer help when needed.

The second phase of Exercise Argonaut saw 120 of Portsmouth-based Duncan’s ship’s company act as evacuees of a war-torn country. They were all given different background stories and were processed by the customs team in Larnaka Port.

A range of Cyprus officials as well as customs control from different countries involved to practise the difficult processing routine. The second phase of the exercise also saw casualties from a stricken ship rescued by the Cypriot navy, with medical teams ready to help once it was alongside in the port.

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Galliford Try secures RAF construction contract

Galliford Try has been awarded a construction contract by BAE Systems to build facilities for a Typhoon squadron at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

The £23million construction contract will create new facilities for 12 squadron, a joint RAF/Qatar Emir Air force unit. The building will use both traditional construction techniques and modular building.

Galliford Try also signed a £7.9million contract with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to build an accommodation block for personnel training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM). The facilities will include a 181-bed block for junior ranks, with eight-bed rooms and ten-bed rooms, as well as supporting offices, and a communal area at the site near Lympstone, Devon.

Keith Yarham, Defence Director for Galliford Try, said: “Defence is a key sector for our business and one in which we have a growing reputation for building high-quality, technically demanding facilities. The award of these two contracts demonstrates the breadth of our offering to the sector and our ability to deliver appropriate solutions for our clients.”

Simon Jones, the DIO Project Manager, said: “This new accommodation will be purpose-built for personnel at CTCRM Lympstone. We are looking forward to working with both Galliford Try and our technical services partner AECOM on providing these essential facilities.”

The company released plans for the design of the Lincolnshire facilities. The contract comes after the sale of Typhoon jets to Qatar.

As well as accommodation the company will also provide aircraft hangars for Typhoon jets, flight line shelters, and a training building at RAF Coningsby. Galliford Try has recently scaled back parts of its business, reducing operations by a third in some areas.

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Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to hold supply chain event

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will host an event on June 18 2020 in Telford to help groups access supply chain contracts.

Since launching in 2011, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) event has attracted a total of around 10,000 visitors from more than 20 countries, representing thousands of companies both large and small. First held in Bolton, the next event will take place at The International Centre in Telford.

Organisers have said that they hope the event will attract SMEs especially with the venue in a more central UK location that is easier for many visitors to access.

The event will allow attendants to:

  • Celebrate dozens of NDA Supply Chain award winners, in categories ranging from innovation to collaboration and exports
  • Make face-to-face connections, build collaborative networks and win contracts across the NDA group
  • Find opportunities to move into the nuclear decommissioning market for the first time
  • Come from overseas to see a wide range of UK expertise at first hand
  • Meet with other government departments, such as the Department of International Trade (DIT) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD), to understand future opportunities and meet potential suppliers.

The event has grown from attracting a few hundred visitors to almost 1,700 and is now the largest event of its kind anywhere in Europe. Organisers have said that the new venue is well connected to motorway and railway networks and hope the event will provide income for the local economy.

Registration via the supply chain event website will open in the autumn. Those interested can receive updates by signing up to an e-bulletin.

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Armed forces Minister visits Washington

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster visited Washington DC to discuss the USA and UK partnership ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

During the visit, armed forces minister Mr Lancaster met with his counterparts the secretaries of each of the US Services, Secretary for the Air Force Dr Heather Wilson, Secretary for the Navy Mr Richard Spencer, Secretary for the Army Dr Mark Esper as well as Acting Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, James N.Stewart. Discussions covered all aspects of the transatlantic defence partnership, including current operations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, intelligence sharing, nuclear co-operation, defence procurement, and flagship joint programmes like the F-35 programme.

Nations that took part in Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings alongside the UK have been invited to attend a memorial in the UK and Normandy. This includes the US, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Greece, and Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Mark Lancaster, Minister for the Armed Forces said: “With the anniversary of D-Day just around the corner there is no better time to reflect on our historic and enduring relationship with the US. Our shared values and commitment to global security are as strong now as they were 75 years ago.”

“More recently we have seen joint action to defeat Daesh, degrade and deter the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and provide reassurance to allies in Eastern Europe as leaders in NATO. The ability of our two militaries to work hand in glove continues to keep our citizens safe on both sides of the pond.”

The Memorial event will pay tribute to the sacrifice of those who fought on D-Day, recognising the international cooperation during the Normandy landings. The US and the UK have the largest defence budgets in the world and in Europe respectively, and train and deploy troops on joint operations.

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