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[*] posted on 16-5-2017 at 11:59 AM
Special Forces, all aspects

SOFIC 2017: What to expect (video)

15th May 2017 - 23:00

by Grant Turnbull in Tampa


Grant Turnbull talks with Special Operations Forum editor Scott Gourley about the key trends that are likely to influence this year's proceedings at the SOFIC exhibition in Tampa.
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[*] posted on 17-5-2017 at 04:26 PM

SOCOM Seeks Lighter, More Flexible Technologies for Small Unit Dominance


By Vivienne Machi

Photo: Air Force

TAMPA, Fla. — Special Operations Command science and technology experts had a clear message for industry: across the board, SOCOM is looking for equipment that weighs less, is more flexible and comes at an affordable price.

From optics to biomedical projects, from weapons and munition to ballistic armor protection, SOCOM S&T representatives May 18 shared key areas of interest for fiscal year 2018 at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.

Realms of interest include: command, control, communications and computers, or C4, technology; weapons; body armor; biomedical and human performance; optical electronics; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) products, said Lisa Sanders, SOCOM science and technology director.

For C4 technologies, special operators are seeking new products with improved line-of-sight or beyond-line-of-sight capabilities, higher bandwidth and the computing power to do data analytics and visualization, she said. 

Major development goals include size, weight and power reduction, as well as the ability to triage large data sets, she said. The command is particularly looking for a scalable, mobile and over-the-horizon communications networks that should be interoperable with other joint or combined forces and headquarters.

The technology should be interoperable with enterprise computing, which is currently a mixed configuration of Windows platforms supporting Windows and Linux operating systems, she noted. The command is looking for products that are between technology readiness levels 3 to 6.

In terms of weapons and munition, the command is looking for lighter weight, lower cost of ownership and increased lethality, officials said in a video presentation.

The goal is to achieve firefight dominance for small SOF units by reducing the weight of weapons and ammunition by 20 percent and by applying computer-assisted design tools that could aid with increased reliability and performance.

SOCOM is also seeking new human performance technologies that could help with sleep restoration and rapid acclimatization to acute environmental extremes, as well as ways to assist with injury prevention and recovery from injury. 

The command is also looking for enhanced sensors, lasers and radar for target engagement and ISR that could be developed in three to five years. Software that can process and disseminate imagery in real time is particularly needed. 

Weight remains a major issue for body armor, said Conrad Lovell, protection technical development working group lead for SOCOM.

“The load burden on the operators is a problem [for] the big services and SOF, and that’s not just body armor, it’s all the rest of the kit that they wear,” he said.

SOCOM is seeking new protection technologies built with ceramics, optimized fibers such as spider silk and even 3D printed armor, he said. The material properties “aren’t quite there yet” to print ballistic armor, but the command is interested to see what industry can come up with, he said.

“3D printing is kind of the new wave of technology everyone’s looking at,” he said, noting that developers could potentially print more complex curvature pieces of armor than are currently available. 

“You would be able to maybe even be able to make new armor in theater if you had a 3D printer out there,” he noted.
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[*] posted on 19-5-2017 at 02:28 PM

SOFIC 2017: NSW Expands Surface Mobility

18th May 2017 - 17:00

by Scott Gourley in Tampa

US Naval Special Warfare (NSW) elements are expanding the size of their surface mobility platform fleet. The fleet changes were included in an update presented at this week’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC), in Tampa, Florida.

The surface mobility platforms fall under USSOCOM’s Program Executive Office for Maritime, which is led by Capt Kate Dolloff, USN. Dolloff was one of seven PEOs to provide a portfolio update during SOFIC.

 ‘SEALION fulfills our requirement of Combatant Craft – Heavy,’ she explained. ‘We have two of these craft now and are working on getting a third, which I am absolutely positive we are going to have under contract by the end of the week. That will give us three boats out there doing some great things.’

Manufactured by Vigor Works in Clackamas, Oregon, the Combatant Craft-Heavy is the biggest NSW surface platform.

The Combatant Craft – Medium (MK I) is also manufactured by Vigor Works and serves as a partial replacement for the Mk V Special Operations Craft and NSW rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

Dolloff said that the current inventory is 11 platforms but pointed to the recent completion of acceptance trials on the 12th boat, with delivery anticipated by the end of the week.

The Combatant Craft Assault is a carbon-fiber boat manufactured by US Marine and designed for medium range, maritime assault, interdiction, insertion and extraction.

‘We do have 24 out of 28 CCA fielded right now and we are working on a new air delivery capability,’ she said. ‘So we’ll have some of these boats capable of being dropped from the air with a platform. So there’s some cool stuff there.’

The new air drop capability for CCA allows divestment of the Maritime Craft Aerial Deployment System (MCADS), which had entailed the use of four large parachutes to deliver an 11 metre RIB from the rear of a cargo aircraft.

The Special Operations Craft – Riverine (SOC-R) is currently in the sustainment phase, with Dolloff acknowledging that the command is ‘looking toward a new design here in the future.’

She added that all sustainment on the surface platforms has been shifted to the Special Operations Forces Support Activity (SOFSA), where Lockheed Martin is currently under a Contractor Logistics Support contract.
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[*] posted on 19-5-2017 at 02:42 PM

It’s ‘getting real’: Special Ops Iron Man suit takes shape

By: Jen Judson, May 18, 2017 (Photo Credit: Jen Judson/Staff)

TAMPA, Fla. — The informally named “Iron Man” suit that U.S. Special Operations has been developing will start to come together over the next 18 months with a first prototype expected to be fully built by the end of 2018.  

Formally known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, Special Operations Command has spent the past four years tackling complicated technical hurdles to try to revolutionize the performance of a dismounted operator by developing the armored exoskeleton.

“It’s getting very real right now,” Col. James Miller, the director of the Joint Acquisition Task Force TALOS, said Wednesday at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference.

The team of around 35 vendors, labs and academic institutions are diving deeper on systems engineering, he said, adding, “We are going to start building parts and snapping them together” while testing for functionality and safety.

Some skeptics have said the project is moving too slowly or that it's a waste of money to try to develop something only a reality in comic books and movies, akin to the Pentagon building a "Star Wars" Death Star. A few years ago, the suit even made its way into then-Sen. Tom Coburn's, R-Okla., famous "wastebook" among 100 federal programs he called wasteful.

But for Miller, getting TALOS right would be a revolutionary leap ahead achievement for the future special operator, not meant to be fielded in just a few years. “We are trying to redefine in many respects science and engineering,” he said.

“We are putting a human inside of a robot,” Miller said, which “has to emulate the human itself.”

The program isn’t tackling how to give back capability to someone who is impaired; it’s trying to take an elite athlete and super empower someone with that capability, James “Hondo” Geurts, USSOCOM acquisition executive told Defense News in an interview at SOFIC.

While SOCOM is trying to push the bounds with a full suit, there have already been “great spin-offs both in technology and in business practices,” along the way, he said.

TALOS program officials sat down with industry representatives by appointment for nearly 12 non-consecutive hours over the course of three-and-a-half day conference.

Each layer of the suit presents complicated technical challenges, and integrating all the layers is yet another challenge. Miller sees it as a "system of systems," like an aircraft or other major weapons platform.

Miller said the base layer of the suit needs to be capable of regulating the operator’s temperature and will have tubes incorporated into the layer delivering chilled water to keep an operator’s core from overheating. Also “junctional fragmentation” will be woven into the fabric to protect the operator where armor pieces won’t cover.

The exoskeleton’s purpose is to displace hundreds of pounds of weight and enhance body movement. It has to be perfectly form-fitting, “kinematically seamless with the body,” Miller said. The individual wearing it shouldn’t notice it’s there.

“If we get that right, then we are good,” he said, adding exoskeletons have been attempted in the past several decades, but some were so big they couldn’t fit through a door. That won’t work for special operators engaging in close-quarter combat, Miller added.

The 800-part exoskeleton is currently being built using carbon fiber plastics, which is strong enough to replicate and prove design, but not enough to be encumbering or too expensive, Miller said.

The program has used rapid 3-D prototyping as it refines the exoskeleton and has managed to cut what was expected to be a billion-dollar project “way back,” Miller said.

For now, the first prototype will be made of titanium, he said, which is lighter and stronger.

Building on the exoskeleton will be an electric actuation system to emulate muscles. The program will develop both upper- and lower-body actuation, Miler said, which is very hard to do, but both are needed.

The final layer of the suit is the armor. The military has mastered ballistic protection on the chest, back and head, but the legs, arms and face continue to lack appropriate protection, Miller said.

The suit can’t be completely armored head to toe because it would hinder movement too much, so positioning the armor is crucial. The current suit would likely have 26 pieces of armor.

The program is entertaining the idea of a removable mandible to cover the lower half of the face and is experimenting with ways to protect the entire face.

“The thing we haven’t gotten to yet is transparent ballistic material glass … that is not so thick you get [dizzy] and want to throw up all over the place,” Miller said.

The entire suit will be powered through a system on the back that is currently configured to use commercially available batteries. That method of power is limiting, but at least it’s not a suit that requires being plugged into the wall like experimental robotic suits of the past, Miller noted.

The power will not only control the suit but also a computer that processes a network of communications systems integrated into the helmet that feeds audio and imagery into some kind of head-up display, possibly at cheek-level, Miller said.

Much is left to be contemplated after the first prototype is built, and Miller stressed this is the first of many.

Questions have yet to be answered, such as how the suit could be employed operationally, how to get it to fit a variety of body types and how an operator would quickly get out of the suit if it broke down. Those would likely be answered once the science and technology piece ended and the program moved into an official program of record, according to Miller. 
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[*] posted on 19-5-2017 at 07:48 PM

IMDEX 2017: Singapore displays latest special forces RHIB

Kelvin Wong, Singapore - IHS Jane's International Defence

19 May 2017

The RSN is in the process of replacing existing RHIBs used by its elite 'Frogmen', with this 11 m example built by Zodiac Milpro under evaluation. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) took the opportunity at the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia 2017 in Singapore to showcase a new type of rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) currently undergoing operational test and evaluation (OT&E) and destined for the service's elite Naval Diving Unit (NDU).

Designated the Combatant Craft Medium (CCM), the RHIB measures 11.5 m long and 3.25 m wide and is powered by a pair of 400-hp inboard engines that enable it to reach a maximum stated speed in excess of 40 kt. It can carry up to 15 personnel, although Jane's has learned that crew seating can be reduced in order to accommodate other mission payloads if necessary.

The CCM is typically armed with a 7.62 mm general purpose machine gun (MG) located near its bow, although heavier weapons such as a 12.7 mm MG could also be fitted.

"The new boat can be configured and optimised prior to a mission for much improved tactical versatility," an NDU team member told Jane's on 18 May, adding that the first example was received in December 2016.

It is understood that the CCM is expected to eventually replace the service's current fleet of 11 m RHIBs, which were built by Mississippi-based United States Marine, Inc. (USMI) Boats.

The CCM is built by Zodiac Milpro and customised for the RSN's specific mission requirements, which can include seaward interdiction as well as boarding operations. It appears to be based on the company's ZH-1100 CDO Military Air Channelled Hull II (MACH II) design, which features an aluminium hull and foam-filled sponsons that maximise deck volume for improved configurability and usable space.

The company also claims that its patented MACH II hull design reduces resistance while offering improved directional stability for gains in fuel economy and speed.

(320 of 397 words)
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[*] posted on 3-6-2017 at 01:09 PM

Czech army acquires Perun special operations vehicle

Michal Zdobinsky, Brno - IHS Jane's International Defence Review

01 June 2017

First prototype of the 4x4 SOV Perun vehicle seen armed with a 12.7 mm DShKM heavy machine gun, 7.62 mm PKMV machine gun and three Rheinmetall Rosy smoke grenade launchers. Source: Michal Zdobinsky

It might just be me BUT that roll cage doesn't look anywhere near adequate enough IF the wee beastie rolls.............flat Czechs!

The Army of the Czech Republic (ACR) has acquired a new 4x4 special operations vehicle for its 601st Special Forces Group, Jane's has learnt at the IDET 2017 exhibition being held in Brno from 31 May to 2 June.

Developed by SVOS Prelouc to meet the specific requirements of the army special forces, the vehicle is named Perun after the Slavic god of war and is also being showcased for the first time at the exhibition.

The service has ordered four vehicles which are expected to be delivered in March 2018.

The Perun has a GVW of 13,000 kg with a kerb weight of 10,400 kg including ballistic and mine protection and a payload capacity of 2,600 kg. It can accommodate five personnel and is based on the newly developed two-axle SVOS chassis, which is available in two versions - the first has a steerable front axle only, while both axles are steerable on the other. In the case of the latter, the rear axles can be steered at speeds under 30 km/h for improved manoeuvrability in confined spaces.

Measuring 6 m long, 2.3 m wide, and 2.6 m tall, the vehicle has a wheelbase of 3.8 m and a track width of 1.97 m. It is air transportable via the C-130 Hercules medium airlifter.

Series-built vehicles for the Czech army special forces will be equipped with M3 12.7 mm machine guns or Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers and 7.62 mm Minimi machine guns. (Michal Zdobinsky)

A Mercedes Benz 6Y 106 TD21 six-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine delivers an output of 240 kW at 2200 rpm, providing a power-to-weight ratio of 18.43 kW/t. This is coupled to a six-speed 6 HP 602 S+ automatic gearbox to achieve a maximum road speed of 110 km/h and operating range of up to 700 km.

The Perun can traverse terrain with a 22° side slope, cross a 0.85 m wide trench, and climb a 0.55 m vertical step of. It can also ford waters 1.2 m deep although this can be increased to 1.5 m if an optional elevated engine air intake is installed.

(342 of 543 words)
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[*] posted on 3-6-2017 at 02:39 PM

UDT Europe 2017: SF diver delivery system showcased

01st June 2017 - 11:52

by Beth Maundrill in Bremen

Rotinor's Seabob Black Shadow 730.

Two companies, Rotinor and JFD, have brought their diver delivery systems for the special forces community to UDT Europe 2017, both with varying concepts on the platform.

Rotinor's Seabob Black Shadow 730 is a diving scooter that uses jet propulsion to move through the water, while JFD’s Torpedo Seal swimmer delivery system employs external propellers and is capable of carrying two divers, or one diver and a larger payload.

The main principle for swimmer delivery systems is to conserve the energy of special forces operators being deployed on a mission.

Anthony Simmons, international sales manager at Rotinor, said that the company currently supplies the Black Shadow to 20 nations after launching the platform in 2009, followed by a major redesign in 2012.

The system can be deployed from submarine torpedo tubes and, as it its man-portable, it can also be deployed via parachute drop, which has been demonstrated by the company.

Black Shadow incorporates an obstacle avoidance system with sonar technology, navigation system and diving depth sensors on a colour changing display.

With feedback from customers in mind the company created a new scratch-proof coating specifically developed for the vessel.

JFD’s Torpedo Seal swimmer delivery system.

Meanwhile, the JDF Torpedo Seal is also in service and the company has sold six of the systems to a customer in the Middle East.

During its development the diver delivery system was operated by the Swedish Navy, according to Karl Roberts, defence sales manager at JFD.

Torpedo Seal transits within a standard 533 mm torpedo tube and can be modified depending on customer requirement.

Looking ahead, JFD will be demonstrating its capabilities to the UK Royal Navy and is set to showcase its larger Seal Carrier Swimmer Delivery Vehicle to DSEI 2017 in London.

Seal Carrier is an eight-man system for the covert insertion and extraction of diver units. It is able to perform surface, semi-submerged and sub-surface operations.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2017 at 02:30 PM

Zetor Engineering presents its Fox at IDET 2017

The Fox is a RDV (Rapid Deployment Vehicle) with excellent off-road performance intended for the need of special forces or rapid deployment forces. The vehicle transports a four-member crew and equipement, including armaments. The Fox is exhibited at Zetor Engineering booth during IDET 2017 in Brno, Czech Republic.
The vehicle is designed with an emphasis on high construction modularity and it enables equipment and armaments to be combined according to the specific vehicle deployment condition.There are four anti-mine seats installed in the body. The seats are located in two rows, one behind the other. They are adjustable longitudinally and are equipped with four-point seat belts. The second-row seats can rotate a quarter of a turn around a vertical axis. The fifth seat is located a the rear of the Fox and is intended for a gunner, facing away from the direction of travel ( this seat is tilted in transport position).

The Vehicle is equipped with holders for the crew's personal weapons, a mechanical turret on the roof and articulated arms with mounts for four machine guns. The turret design enables mounting of main weapons system -a 12.7mm heavy machine gun- and an ATGM launcher. The chassis used for the Fox is the Mercedes-Benz G300 CDI. The Fox is powered by a 3.0L diesel engine producing 135 kW which give a maximum speed of 120 km/h. It has a maximum weights of 4,550 kg.
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[*] posted on 8-6-2017 at 12:17 PM

Zetor Engineering unveils prototype 4x4 Fox vehicle

Shaun Connors, London - IHS Jane's International Defence Review

07 June 2017

Zetor Engineering is developing the 4x4 Fox vehicle for surveillance, reconnaissance, and patrol missions. A prototype was unveiled at IDET 2017. Source: Shaun Connors

Czech company Zetor Engineering has revealed a prototype of the Fox, a 4x4 design optimised for surveillance, reconnaissance, and long range patrol-type roles, at IDET 2017 in Brno, Czech Republic.

Zetor commenced development of the Fox in 2015 having identified a perceived gap in the market, and began testing of the prototype in early 2017. It will undergo testing in Slovakia by the by the Military Technical and Testing Institute Záhorie (Vojenský technický a skúÜobný ústav Záhorie, or VTSU Záhorie).

The Fox is based on a 3.4 m Mercedes-Benz G-Class chassis-cab with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 4,550 kg, allowing for around 1,180 kg of payload. With the exception of replacement wheels, the base vehicle remains comparable to the standard G-Class and is powered by a Mercedes-Benz 300 CDI EURO 5 rated (with EURO 3 option) diesel developing 135 kW, and coupled to a Mercedes-Benz 5-speed automatic gearbox and 2-speed transfer case.

The upper body has been designed and manufactured by Zetor Engineering with an emphasis on modularity. The Fox can seat five crew in individual blast-attenuating seats, with these fitted with full four-point harnesses. The crew are seated two front, two rear, with a single rear-facing seat at the back of the vehicle. The two rear seats have the ability to rotate through 90 °. The seating configuration can be changed to accommodate a single stretcher if required.

Armament can be configured to suit the mission profile, but would normally include a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun mounted in the rollcage ring-mount - this mount is capable of accepting an anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) if required. Up to four 5.56 or 7.62 mm light machine guns can also be fitted to four individual crew member mounts, including a swing-arm type mount for the front-seat passenger and the rear-facing passenger.

(324 of 470 words)
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[*] posted on 14-6-2017 at 01:05 PM

Published: Tuesday, 13 June 2017 12:27

Harris Corp to provide next generation manpack radio system to US Special forces

Harris Corp., has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a $255,000,000 maximum ceiling value to provide the Special Operations Forces Tactical Communications Next Generation Manpack (STC NGMP) Radio system.

Harris Falcon 3 at AUSA 2013 ( source: army recognition)
This deal is intended for support of U.S. Special Operations Command to conduct a Capital Equipment Replacement Program, replacing legacy manpack radios such as the AN/PRC-117F and AN/PRC-117G. The STC NGMP will provide Special Operations Forces teams with the ability to communicate utilizing a two-channel manpack radio. The NGMP will provide a capability to receive and distribute intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in the form of full motion video, and support simultaneous dual channel line of sight and/or beyond line of sight operation utilizing legacy, and advanced waveforms.

The majority of the work will be performed at the contractor’s location in Rochester, New York, and is expected to be completed by June 2023. Fiscal 2017 procurement funds in the amount of $1,050,000 are being obligated at time of award.
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[*] posted on 20-6-2017 at 01:25 PM

Textron Systems, Boeing Win U.S. Special Ops Tasking Contracts

by Bill Carey - June 19, 2017, 7:47 AM

Textron Systems' Unmanned Systems unit and Boeing’s Insitu subsidiary have each been awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts from the U.S. Special Operations Command to compete for unmanned aircraft task orders. The companies will compete for up to $475 million.

The Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) III contract awards, which the Pentagon announced on June 7, call for four 12-month ordering periods followed by one six-month ordering period. The companies will compete to provide contractor-owned, contractor-operated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services at multiple locations using their respective unmanned aircraft. Estimated completion date of the contracts is June 2022.

Textron Systems’ (Static A4) Hunt Valley, Maryland, unmanned systems business will deploy the 80-pound, catapult-launched Aerosonde UAV for the MEUAS III program. Powered by a Lycoming EL-005 heavy fuel engine, the Aerosonde carries multiple payloads, including electro-optical/infrared and communications relay packages.

“After proudly working with the U.S. Special Operations Command under the MEUAS II contract, we look forward to continuing this relationship and fulfilling their operational expectations,” said David Phillips, Textron Systems vice president of small and medium endurance UAS. “It is our priority to support and understand our customers’ needs, and this is a great example of how our solutions can help to address them.”

Insitu previously has provided its ScanEagle UAV under the MEUAS program.
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[*] posted on 21-6-2017 at 09:36 AM

PARIS: Lockheed unleashes C-130J for international special forces

20 June, 2017 SOURCE: BY: Craig Hoyle Paris

Lockheed Martin has launched an additional variant of its C-130J optimised to perform missions supporting the special operations forces (SOF) of international customers.

Dubbed the C-130J-SOF, the new model will be capable of performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks, along with transporting special operations personnel and airdropping support equipment. Lockheed describes other potential applications as including psychological operations and humanitarian relief.

The SOF model also could also be equipped with Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and a 30mm cannon to provide an armed overwatch capability, the company says.

Other options will include equipping it to refuel fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in-flight, and to act as a forward area refuelling point for rotorcraft while on the ground.

"Our global partners said they need to support their SOF teams with a solution that is reliable, affordable, effective and integrated," says George Shultz, Lockheed's vice-president and general manager, air mobility and maritime missions.

Lockheed says the new version will be the 10th production variant of its C-130J tactical transport.
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[*] posted on 24-6-2017 at 02:24 PM

Analysis: Israel revives Special Forces unit

23rd June 2017 - 11:00

by Andrew White in London

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in April that it was reviving the Haruv Special Operations Unit following its disbandment in 1974 as part of a wider restructuring of the army.

Today, Haruv is already operational, with the special operations unit scheduled to achieve a full operational capability (FOC) within the next two years, unit officials explained to Shephard.

The deputy commander of Haruv, Capt Ben Eichenthal, described to Shephard on 12 June that the unit was revived in response to emerging requirements across the contemporary operating environment, particularly relating to increased demand for specialist counter-terrorism (CT) missions in and around Israel.

‘The IDF has a need for a special unit capable of operating in Palestinian areas,’ Eichenthal explained while making reference to covert operations in urban and densely populated areas such as the Gaza Strip.

Haruv was disbanded following the culmination of the Yom Kippur War, when it was tasked with a variety of special operations mission sets including long range patrolling and CT missions in the vicinity of Israel’s border with Jordan.

The news of the relaunch of Haruv follows the IDF’s decision to double the size of its Yahalom Special Operations Engineering Unit following a critical report published by the Israeli State Comptroller on 1 March 2017, which called for greater efficiency in regards to tackling underground warfare.

Yahalom maintains responsibility for CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) specific operations in support of other IDF Special Operations Forces as well as conventional units.

The re-formed unit has now been placed under the operational control of the Kfir Brigade which, as the youngest brigade in the IDF order of battle, also specialises in CT and military operations in urban terrain.


The brigade specialises in anti-terror operations and urban combat and stands at the forefront of the IDF’s determined fight against terrorism - IDF Official

Founded in 2005, the Kfir Brigade also includes Nachshon, Shimson, Duchifat, Lavi and Netzah Yehuda force components tasked with conducting CT missions in Judea and Samaria, IDF sources confirmed.

‘The brigade specialises in anti-terror operations and urban combat and stands at the forefront of the IDF’s determined fight against terrorism,’ officials proclaimed.

Currently, Haruv comprises several special operations teams or ‘crews’ which are already conducting live operations in Israel, although Eichenthal was unable to provide further details due to operational security concerns.

However, he did confirm to Shephard that Haruv continued to develop its own selection and training course designed to fill a battalion-sized force with the next two years.

Soldiers from the elite Rimon Battalion, part of the Commando Brigade participating in an all night exercise in the Jordan Valley. (Photo: IDF)

Haruv personnel are expected to not only undergo and pass the IDF’s rigorous infantry training programme but also complete a specialist CT package organised and overseen by Haruv Directing Staff.

‘New crews being drafted now are doing an even longer basic training package for CT and underground warfare and we are slowly adding to that with unique abilities once they are serving with the unit,’ Eichenthal highlighted while referring to new types of weaponry as well as alternative concepts of operation (CONOPS), tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) currently in development by commanders.

‘We are building up to a battalion although it will likely be a bit smaller than a regular infantry battalion,’ he added while describing plans to man the ‘elite’ unit with a total of three special operations companies, each of which will be sub-divided into platoons or ‘crews’.

The company commanders of the Kfir Brigade conducting an exercise simulating the takeover of a hostile urban area in which terrorists are hiding. (Photo: IDF)

Each crew, measuring more or less in platoon strength, will specialise in a unique capability, Eichenthal added while making particular reference to mobility, navigation and observation missions in urban and subterranean environments as well as the integration of UAVs and UGVs into combat units.

‘We are only drafting soldiers willing to work extra time,’ Eichenthal admitted while describing how Haruv is also in the process of recruiting officers from other IDF special mission units in order to help develop their own officers corps.

Such a move, defence sources explained to Shephard, represented a normal course of action for a newly-formed special operations unit, with external officers capable of assisting in the creation and development of Haruv’s operational doctrine, CONOPS and TTPs.

However, Eichenthal was unable to confirm from which special operations units the external officers had been drafted.

Lavi Battalion of the Kfir Brigade prepare to fight at any terrain. This exercise took place in Lachish Command Training Base. (Photo: IDF)

Training to earn a place within the ranks of Haruv currently takes a year to complete, although Eichenthal explained how this is likely to increase to 16 months during 2018 and beyond.
‘Once soldiers finish their basic training with Haruv, they are then attached to the crews where they begin training in specialist areas,’ he continued while describing additional specialist capabilities including subterranean warfare; special reconnaissance; and arrest operations.

However, despite the special mission status of Haruv, Eichenthal confirmed that there were no plans to integrate Haruv into the newly formed Special Operations Brigade, which includes the Duvdevan special mission unit – an organisation which shares a very similar mission role to Haruv.


There are a lot of special and unique capabilities we have today which are very similar to Duvdevan, including subterranean operations - Captain Ben Eichenthal

‘There are a lot of special and unique capabilities we have today which are very similar to Duvdevan, including subterranean operations. But we are doing more than Duvdevan does today but this is not something we can talk about,’ Eichenthal claimed.

Haruv’s status within the Kfir Brigade, he asserted, was ensured because units operating under the command of the Special Operations Brigade, continued to conduct operations at a high tempo making them unavailable to support other brigade operations in Israel.

On 27 December 2015, the IDF announced the formation of the Special Operations Infantry Brigade, comprising Duvdevan, Egoz, Maglan, and Rimon Special Forces units.

The Kfir Brigade take part in a wilderness and subterranean training exercise. (Photo: IDF)

Soldiers from the elite reconnaissance unit, Rimon take part in a training exercise inside a tunnel. (Photo: IDF)

Promoting the unique nature and ‘higher quality’ of the Haruv unit, Eichenthal also revealed: ‘There are not too many units who do what we do today. We are still building the unit but we are going to possess special capabilities no other units have, especially in relation to intelligence and undercover operations.

‘We are already conducting operations now and are going to continue building our crews while we move forward. However, certain crews are going to take over two years until they’re [combat] ready. The other crews are operational now and are slowly adding on more unique capabilities,’ he warned.

However, Eichenthal could disclose how Haruv crews were currently conducting high risk operations, working alongside the likes of Duvdevan, the Yamam law enforcement special mission unit and other formations in the conduct of arrest operations against Hamas high value targets (HVTs).
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[*] posted on 27-6-2017 at 11:45 AM

Airbus completes H145M deliveries to German special forces

Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

26 June 2017

The KSK uses the H145M as an insertion and extraction platform during day and night operations, as well as for fire support and reconnaissance. Source: Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the fifteenth and final H145M multirole helicopter to the German Bundeswehr, the company announced on 26 June.

The last of 15 H145M helicopters for the German forces was handed over in late June. (Airbus Helicopters)

The helicopters have been delivered to Laupheim in southern Germany, from where they are being operated by the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) special forces command as insertion and extraction platforms.

As the military version of the civil H145, the H145M features a four-axis autopilot, a fast roping system for the insertion of troops, cargo hooks, hoists, various weapons mounts, and electro-optical sensors. It is also decked with ballistic armour and features an electronic countermeasures system.

(118 of 188 words)
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[*] posted on 4-7-2017 at 02:48 PM

Investing in the Future of Our Special Operations Forces: The Light Troop Transport Vehicle (LTTV)

(Source: Belgian Minister of Defence; issued June 30, 2017)

(Issued in French and Flemish; unofficial translation by

This looks like it has the cross country ability of an ice cream van!

The Council of Ministers today approved Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput's proposal to equip the Special Operations Forces (SOF) - Land Forces capability with 199 new armored Light Troop Transport Vehicles (see concept drawing), with “mission modules” and related weapon systems at a cost of 63.3 million euros. The purchase procedure for these vehicles will now begin, and delivery is expected from 2019 until 2021.

"This acquisition corresponds to the process of my strategic vision of strengthening the Belgian Defense Special Operations Forces, as also requested by NATO," said Defense Minister Steven Vandeput.

This reinforcement implies that:
-- The current Special Forces of the Heverlee Special Forces Group will be equipped with specialized equipment;
-- The tasks of the two para-commando battalions will be expanded so that they can be deployed also in support of the Special Forces;
-- National (1) and international (2) specialized SOF command structures will be developed; and
-- Specialized SOF aircraft will be purchased in the period 2025-2027.

The armored Light Troop Transport Vehicle will replace the unarmored Unimogs now in service. Standard ballistic protection against bullets, grenades, mines and bombs will also be reinforced by additional ballistic kits that are also part of this acquisition. This represents a significant improvement in the protection of our Special Forces and para-commandos in operations.

The purchase of the LTTV is complementary to the purchase of the armored Rapid Reaction Vehicles (RRV) already decided in 2015 to replace the unprotected Iltis jeep, and whose delivery will begin in the first half of next year.

The LTTV, together with the RRV, will ensure that the SOF capability can be deployed quickly, autonomously and very flexibly by the government for key defense missions (collective defense, collective security and the protection of Belgian nationals, world-wide).

Rapid deployment is possible as the LTTV can be easily transported by C-130 transport aircraft or, in the future, A400M. The stand-alone deployment will be optimized because the LTTV will be based as much as possible on widespread and simple technologies.

Flexibility will be enhanced by the use of different mission modules (Special Forces, para-commando (in different versions), ambulance) that can be added to an LTTV, together with a weapon fit that can be adapted to the mission. These weapons include light and heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and smoke-grenade launchers.

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[*] posted on 19-7-2017 at 08:02 PM

Winter is here: SOF cold weather operations

19th July 2017 - 10:17

by Andrew White in London

As the operational focus of the international coalition of Special Operations Forces continues to focus on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns across the Middle East and North Africa, commanders are being forced to review focus of contingency missions in extreme environments including the Arctic Circle and ‘High North’.

Providing a natural resources-rich environment, this area of the Globe is witnessing increased levels of activity as interested state actors position themselves to strategically dominate and exploit the region.

As a result, state actors are focused not only on the development of doctrine, concepts of operation (CONOPS), tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) associated with operating in a cold weather and sometimes high-altitude environment; but also on the technology types capable of optimising the performance, endurance, survivability and range of force components.

Subsequently, SOF are being tasked with increasing frequency to conduct cold weather operations (CWOs) which require mature capability solutions in order to successfully execute missions from the air, over land and in the maritime environment. 

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited his Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) newly established forward operating base (FOB) in the Arctic Circle.

The Trefoil FOB forms part of a wider Russian initiative to amass similar base locations across the Arctic Circle and High North and follows Moscow’s decision to establish the Hatsavita Mountain Training Centre, near Labinsk in the Caucasus mountains, to train Special Purpose Brigades of “Spetsnaz” force components in CWOs.

More recently on 29 May, the Russian MoD disclosed plans to establish an R&D facility at Arkhangelsk, Priozersk and St Petersburg, to optimise understanding of weaponry and munitions used in low temperature environments.

Meanwhile, NATO continues to respond to Russia’s expansionist strategy with plans of its own to run the 2018 iteration of Exercise Trident Juncture in Norway with “tens of thousands of personnel expected to participate in the CWO training program”, according to Norwegian MoD officials.

Designed to develop CONOPS and TTPS in “extreme, cold and changing conditions”, the exercise was “ideally suited to strengthen cooperation between military and civilian organisations, and military cooperation between the participating countries,” NATO sources explained. 

Similar efforts to enhance capabilities for CWOs are being undertaken by the US Special Operations Command. Elsewhere the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) continues to seek an uplift in CWO training regimes following nearly two decades of campaigns in hot and dry environments including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The difficult topography of the Arctic and High North presents significant challenges for SOF, which must contend with mountain ranges, vast plains of snowdrift across ice caps and iceberg-riddled waterways.

Mobility remains a critical component for the successful execution of any special operation with current options ranging from fixed and rotary wing helicopters, specially adapted to operate in the cold weather environment, through to tactical ground vehicles, skis and snow shoes.

The Russian MoD, on 20 February, initiated a military convoy expedition travelling over 1,000km from Siberia to Kotelny Island to demonstrate possibilities in the area of Tactical Ground Vehicles.

Encountering temperatures as low as -60C, the expedition featured multiple tactical ground vehicles including Trekol All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) as well as DT-10PM and DT-30PM tracked vehicles.

Elsewhere, the Canadian SOF Command (CANSOFCOM) continues to work up plans to acquire its proposed Next Generation Fighting Vehicle (NGFV) as it seeks to enhance mobility options across the Arctic Circle.

Snowmobiles continue to provide a popular choice for maneuverability of SOF units across cold weather environments.

The amphibious, all-terrain, all-season and global-reach platform is being considered by a number of undisclosed special operations units worldwide.

Polaris Government and Defense exhibited its Timbersled Snow Bike Conversion Kit concept at the SOF Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida on 16th May 2017

“Special Forces and other militaries also use our snowmobiles and commercial vehicles in snow and winter environments,” Polaris explained to Shephard while highlighting how the “amphibious, all-terrain, all-season and global-reach platform is being considered by a number of undisclosed special operations units worldwide.”

Meanwhile, USASOC’s 10th SFG has received an uplift in ski technology following a $160,000 deal with snow sports designer and manufacturer Romp Skis.

Providing 10th SFG Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) Teams with 350 sets of cross-country skis and bindings, the deal is expected to significantly enhance traversing capabilities of special operations teams seeking to covertly cross terrain while pulling heavy loads of pulks of associated mission equipment.

Helicopters operating under the command of Special Operations Air Components, continue to provide a robust capability to insert, extract and resupply SOF across the cold weather battlefield.

On 6 January 2017, the Russian MoD revealed its intention to stand up its first dedicated Special Operations Air Component formation, dedicated to supporting Spetsnaz teams with rotary wing platforms.

This includes the support of ongoing CWOs in the Arctic Circle – a move which was quickly followed on 20 February with the decision toprocure an undisclosed number of Mi-8AMTSh-VA helicopter in an Arctic variant.

Finally, parachute insertion remains a favoured method of entry into target areas for SOF, with companies such as Airborne Systems North America and Complete Parachute Solutions (CPS) continuing to extend boundaries regarding altitude, cold weather and other extreme conditions.

Responding to such requirements, CPS conducts an annual jump test program in the Himalayan mountain range, aimed at identifying future challenges as demand for higher altitude descents in lower temperatures continues to rise.

However, Russian armed forces are now also benefiting from Cold Weather-specific parachute technology in the form of the Zvezda Research, Development & Production Enterprise Arablet-2 Special Purpose Parachute System.

Efforts to enhance mobility, protection and lethality for SOF across cold weather environments looks set to expand into the future operating environment despite ongoing fiscal constraints.

However, even the most mature Special Forces Commands will require robust, efficient and effective training cycles in order to not only maintain a high tempo of operations to counter Violently Extremist Organisations (VEOs) across what has become a global battlespace, but also equally specialist mission requirements in the Arctic Circle against better equipped near-peer and peer adversaries. 
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[*] posted on 19-7-2017 at 08:03 PM

NSW looks to Shark Marine's Navigator

19th July 2017 - 13:00

by Scott Gourley in California

US Naval Special Warfare Command is planning the procurement of underwater navigation systems from Ontario-based Shark Marine Technologies to meet special operations requirements, a recent solicitation has revealed.

According to the solicitation, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One (SDVT-1), based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has a requirement for four Shark Marine Navigator Systems ‘for task unit training, special operating procedure development and national mission tasking support'.

‘Shark Marine’s Navigator is an advanced diver guidance and sonar navigation system designed for operation in low visibility conditions,’ it stated. 

‘The Navigator system can be hand-held or mounted on a diver delivery vehicle, and was designed to give a diver the ability to see in zero visibility and navigate precisely over search grids for reacquisition of targets.’

Because of the product identification by name the solicitation required an accompanying justification for other than full and open competition. 

A redacted version of that justification identifies the specific navigation system elements as ‘four Shark Marine hand-held navigation systems model NAVM900- 2250 and four Doppler navigation systems model NAVDNS, and accessories'.

With SDVT-1 already equipped with two Shark Marine Navigators the further purchase would ensure undersea navigation training while operational capacity would be maintained across the four units. The solicitations justification highlighted the system's 'modular capability affording inimitable versatility and interoperability with various mission-enhancing accessories'.

Further, it states that the Shark Marine Navigator 'has proven undersea enterprise reliability in the conduct of multiple clandestine operations and diverse inter-agency training and exercises'. 

Additionally, Shark Marine’s DiveLog software controls all operations of the Navigator and its accessories, so that operators need only learn one software to master all their equipment. 

The document adds that the Naval Special Warfare community has conducted ‘extensive market research’ and determined that the Shark Marine navigators, currently used by over more than 17 different navies, ‘have been reliably used in support of critical missions around the world'.
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[*] posted on 20-7-2017 at 09:19 AM

Special forces trigger Latin American exercise

19th July 2017 - 16:00

by Andrew White in London

Special Forces from across Latin America started the annual Fuerzas Comando competition in Paraguay on 18 July as they seek to improve doctrine, concepts of operation and tactics across the joint operating environment.

Organised by the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and host nation Paraguay, the competition will run through to 27 July and is aimed at enhancing interoperability between participating force components and developing tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) in the areas of ‘special operations’ and counter-terrorism (CT).

This year’s event comprises a special operations team from each of the 20 participating countries, with training serials focused on testing ‘strength, endurance and perseverance’, official sources informed Shephard.

Participating countries include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay as well as a team from the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as well as the host nation.

Held annually across Latin America, the Fuerzas Comando event generally concentrates on multiple mission sets across the special operations spectrum, including sniper operations; military operations in urban terrain; hostage rescue; and CT serials.

‘The exercise promotes partner nation military-to-military relationships, increases training knowledge and improves regional security,’ exercise officials explained.

‘Fuerzas Comando allows us to strengthen our relationships and our ability to combat the common threats of our hemisphere.

None of us can face them alone. So, I challenge everyone to make new friends, strengthen existing relationships and seek to build trust between one another,’ explained LTC Angel Martinez, deputy director of training and exercises for the US Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH).

Similar sentiments were echoed by one anonymous Peruvian Special Forces officer, who described how the event allowed participating force elements to form ‘strong bonds’ and gain the opportunity to ‘see and learn other countries’ techniques that may be helpful for us to employ’.

Training will take place at the Paraguayan Army Infantry School, near Remanso Bridge; Special Army Troop Facilities in Cerrito; Artillery Command in the Department of Paraguari; and the Complex of the Institute of Social Prevision in Mariano Roque Alonso, the latter of which provides suitable terrain for MOUT serials.
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[*] posted on 28-7-2017 at 11:40 AM

Interview: Polish Special Forces commander

26th July 2017 - 13:00

by Andrew White in London

On 14 March 2017, Brig Gen Wojciech Marchwica took over as commander of Poland’s Special Operations Component Command (POL SOCC) with a remit to further enhance the capabilities of the organisation in the face of complex emerging threats both at home and abroad.

As one of the five NATO members currently adhering to the 2% of GDP expenditure guidelines, Poland continues to invest heavily in its special forces with programmes designed to introduce a dedicated air support element as well as ongoing efforts to improve training regimes with simulation technology.

Speaking to Shephard, BG Marchwica denied there were any future plans to further expand the ORBAT of POL SOCC. 

He did, however, disclose plans to consider future reform across the organisation with regards to C2 capabilities, particularly relating to ongoing support of the NATO Response Force (NRF) as well as potential for a future Special Operations Air Component (SOAC).

'We will surely focus our efforts on C2 technology to meet future NATO standards and we will also put lot of attention on our air capabilities,' he explained. 

According to BG Marchwica, POL SOCC reports directly to the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, with a remit to command and control 'all national special forces units as well as direction of the operational and mobilisation employment of the Special Operations Forces'.

Additionally, POL SOCC retains responsibility for the training of its subordinate units as well as preparation for combat operations with national and NATO regulations.

Referring to the contemporary operating environment (COE), Marchwica confirmed that POL SOCC force elements had been engaged in NATO and EU security operations 'by establishing broad international cooperation and fulfilling alliance requirements, [allowing] POL SOCC to building up national operational capabilities within Special Operations Force capacity'.

'Taking under consideration all of the above, I believe that POL SOCC and its subordinate units form an effective instrument for Polish Armed Forces to respond to current and new unpredictable threats, both military and non-military.'

He also described the NATO Special Operations Headquarters, based in Mons, Belgium, as an 'extremely valuable input into allied Special Forces capability building'.

'So far we have benefited a lot from the training opportunities offered by NSHQ. We also benefit from doctrine standardisation, which enables us to understand and to co-operate more effectively with our NATO partners,' BG Marchwica stated.

Additionally, he expressed his excitement with respect to the future evolution of NSHQ as it continues to 'expand' into more of an operational command component.

'Nevertheless, we hope that the NSHQ will continue with its training, doctrinal and networking efforts which so far provided an extreme value for us.'

According to BG Marchwica, the CoE remains a difficult one to define for the Special Forces. POL SOCC faces a number of challenges and threats connected with migration from politically, militarily and economically unstable terrains as well as extreme religion-based terrorism in the form of extremist organisations.
Government officials specifically cited Russia, NATO’s southern borders and the Middle East as areas of concern.

POL SOCC continues to position itself as being capable of providing ‘small, highly mobile, well trained and equipped' special operations teams to assist in cooperation with national and other government departments as well as the international community, something which Marchwica referred to as a 'key capability' in the future development of his organisation to counter contemporary and future challenges.

Specifically, BG Marchwica highlighted ongoing MA, CT and COIN missions within NATO and Non-NATO Entity partners as part of Operation Inherent Resolve including the support of Iraqi security forces.

Polish Special Forces have been supporting the coalition operations since June 2016 when a SOTG was deployed as part of a train, advise and assist operation to develop Iraqi special mission units in small unit TTPs as well as providing direct fire support to ground assault teams.

Furthermore, BG Marchwica confirmed how POL SOCC continued to actively support the Afghan security forces in Operation Resolute Support.

Operators remain in locations across the country, where teams support indigenous special mission units. This includes close cooperation with GDPSU Provincial Response Companies and the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Special Mission Units, tasked with rapid reaction missions as well as the targeting of terror and insurgent networks and high value targets. 

Elsewhere, POL SOCC continues to support the ongoing development of Georgian (GEO SOF) and Ukrainian Special Forces with BG Marchwica noting: 'I personally think that the multinational cooperation in scope of special forces will evolve and the existing commitments will be fulfilled.

 'I can mention several training teams being sent to Georgia to provide tactical training or parachute and CQB training delivered for GEO partners in Poland.'

However, BG Marchwica admitted that training of Ukrainian counterparts had been less robust.

'We are focusing our efforts there on one of the special forces units as a part of wider NATO engagement. We have been doing this for one year and now it is difficult to talk about any detailed conclusions. We assist units which are preparing for CT operations on a rotational basis. We believe this program contributes to regional stability.'

BG Marchwica also highlighted ongoing requirements to equip POL SOCC force elements with technology and materiel that provided operators with the tactical advantage in the contemporary combat environment, including the 'miniaturisation and efficiency of reconnaissance and destruction means'.

BG Marchwica revealed how 2020 marked a deadline by which the command was scheduled to procure ‘state-of-the-art live fire training simulators, enabling shooting with blank and live ammunition in multiple scenarios, in various environments'.

In November 2016, the MND contracted Elbit Systems in a $3.2 million deal to provide a laser-based training solution, designed initial for Agat to further develop CQB and small unit TTPs as well as urban and maritime operations.

This, Marchwicka went onto describe, formed a key project in the establishment and development of the Polish Special Operations Forces Training Centre. 
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[*] posted on 29-7-2017 at 10:38 AM

Ukraine special ops development continues

28th July 2017 - 15:59

by Andrew White in London

Force elements from Ukraine’s Special Operations Command have completed a joint training programme with the US Naval Special Warfare Command in the Black Sea as the organisation continues to develop its capabilities since its establishment in 2015.

Conducted close to Odessa, the exercise ran from 10-21 July and involved maritime and land Special Forces personnel from Ukraine working in close cooperation with US Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) platoons.

Exercise Sea Breeze was co-organised by the US Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and followed high-level meetings of Ukrainian Navy Commander, VAdm Ihor Voronchenko, US Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) officials in the US just days before, aimed at establishing increased levels of bilateral collaboration in the future.

Describing the main effort of the exercise to Shephard, service officials associated with the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) highlighted how training serials focused on the execution of joint operations in air, land and sea environments.

Exercising troops conducted a mix of intelligence gathering, direct action and counter-terrorism (CT) serials with support from the US Air Force’s 352nd Special Operations Wing which operates CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

Air frames were used to insert and recover assault teams across training areas, including fast-rope rappelling onto target vessels in the Black Sea as part of wider Personnel Recovery (PR) scenarios.

Ukrainian and US operators were fully integrated into assault teams during the exercise with one official stating that the exercise ‘is a perfect fit for special operations forces to train and exercise their capabilities’.

Assault teams also conducted military freefall insertions and launched surface operations including visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) from rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), supported by the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Carney.

Another source described how the exercise had increased interoperability between participating force elements, with participating troops operating under the command and control of a Special Operations Maritime Task Group.

‘We have combined with our Ukrainian colleagues to integrate their experience and capabilities within our key positions.

Starting in the command team and further within our operations, communications, logistics, and intelligence departments, we were fully partnered,’ SOCEUR officials concluded.

Ukraine’s Special Operations Command comprises maritime units including the 140th Special Purpose Centre and 801st Anti-Diversionary Detachment; with land units incorporating the 3rd, 8th and 10th Detached Spetsnaz Regiments.
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[*] posted on 2-8-2017 at 06:47 PM

SOCOM identifies experimentation opportunities

02nd August 2017 - 8:54

by Scott Gourley in California

USSOCOM released a public notice on 25 July outlining its next planned round of Technical Experimentation (TE) activities.

The semi-annual TE ‘events’ are one of the key ways that USSOCOM’s technology teams engage with external technology providers in industry, academia or as individuals. 

Speaking at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in May of this year Lisa Sanders, USSOCOM director of science and technology, highlighted TE as ‘a great way for tech providers to put their work into the hands of SOF operators in a relevant field environment'.

USSOCOM's descriptions of the events add that TE is designed to identify ‘potential Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or greater technology solutions, impacts, limitations, and unities to meet SOF technical objectives and thrust areas'.

The latest TE announcement – identified as TE 18-1 – is calling for engineering interaction across the domain identified as SOF combat swimmer/diver and human performance. The initial experimentation event, which seeks ‘nominations’ of technology solutions at TRL 6 and 9, is planned for 13-17 November at the US Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School, Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida.

‘The primary intent of this event is to highlight technologies that support SOF combat swimmers/divers while in and during the transition to the water column,’ it stated. 

‘Of specific interest are those capabilities geared towards diver’s thermal protection, manned portable diver propulsion/maneuverability, underwater navigational equipment, and underwater communications which include networking in the water and transition to and from the maritime realm.’

The announcement goes on to characterise TE 18-1 as ‘a multifaceted effort for the individual SOF combat swimmer/diver and his equipment, with expectations for a family of systems approach to reduce redundant systems and ensure interoperability to the maximal extent practical. Reduction of size and weight is a priority, as each small reduction enables greater mobility, longer endurance, and reduced diver fatigue.’

Specific areas of interest will address topics such as active heating and cooling protection in the water column, reducing drag on swimmers and propulsion equipment, among others.

The announcement goes on to state that communications, physiological monitoring and the reducing cognitive deficits related to prolonged undersea exposure are also key areas for discussion.

The deadline for the nomination of potential technologies is 25 August.

Looking further ahead, USSOCOM identified a ‘tentative’ TE 18-2 that will focus on optics/biometrics/advanced sniper rifle/cognitive enhancement and will be held at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana. A TE 18-3 focused on C4 and cyber, ISR, small UAS, and mobility will take place at a location yet to be determined.
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[*] posted on 8-8-2017 at 09:43 AM

Nigerian Air Force begins training special forces unit

07th August 2017 - 11:58

by Erwan de Cherisey in Paris

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has begun training a new group of Special Forces (SF) in conjunction with an Israeli contractor, it was announced on 31 July.

The new 150 strong intake was flagged off over the weekend of 29-30 July and is the first group of three totalling 450 men that are to undertake SF training over the coming months.

The personnel selected for training all hail from the NAF Regiment, which is tasked with force protection and air base security duties, in a similar manner to the Royal Air Force Regiment.

The SF training course is taking place at the NAF Regiment Training Centre at Kaduna Air Base, Kaduna State.

As the NAF highlighted, the Israeli private military company Four Troop is serving as the contractor for the nine-week training course, providing a team of instructors which will oversee the SF course alongside Nigerian instructors.

Four Troop has already worked in 2016 with the NAF on ground troop training, as photographs accessed by Shephard revealed.

According to the NAF, having a team of foreign instructors provide training in Nigeria instead of sending personnel abroad to take the SF course was preferred as it allows the service to further develop its training capabilities while ensuring significant costs savings.

The training course is being undertaken under the oversight of the new Ground Training Command, which was set up in July 2017.

The NAF SF course is intended to provide trainees with the skills to operate and fight in all types of terrain and weather conditions, allowing them to conduct offensive as well as defensive operations and specialised missions which fall outside the scope of duties performed by the NAF Regiment.

These comprise CSAR, direct action, reconnaissance or forward air control.

As detailed by the NAF, at the end of their training, the new SF will be deployed in support of ongoing combat operations (such as Operation Lafiya Dole, in the North East, against Boko Haram or Delta Safe, in the Niger Delta), as well as to protect NAF facilities and critical national infrastructure such as airports or oil installations.

While little information is available on the organisation and capabilities of the NAF SF, Shephard understands that the unit comes under the authority of the NAF Special Forces Command, which was established in January 2017.

The command is also understood to exercise control over a number of special operations helicopter squadrons flying Mi-24s and Mi-35s. 
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[*] posted on 9-8-2017 at 03:24 PM

Industry eyeing opportunity to sell light attack planes, tech to SOCOM

By: Valerie Insinna   6 hours ago

The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, made by Textron. (Textron)

WASHINGTON — Over the skies of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, three industry teams are either preparing for or already engaged in a flight demonstration of their light attack planes, hoping to entice the Air Force into buying hundreds of new aircraft.

Another sales opportunity could be quick on its heels. The Air Force and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have noted an emerging opportunity to sell complimentary light attack technology — or potentially additional aircraft — to the special operations community, and defense contractors are hungry to learn more.

In a July 31 presolicitation published on, the service indicated interest in pursuing “platform-agnostic light attack aircraft technologies relevant to a potential future SOF [special operations force] light attack mission and/or emerging light attack platforms.”

The service plans on issuing a broad area announcement (BAA) in the near future to garner more information about “specific technological areas of interest,” which are not named in the solicitation.

Little information is currently available about the specific technologies that could be procured through the effort, currently called the Light Attack Support for Special Operations, or LASSO. However, representatives from all of the teams currently participating in the light attack experiment, also known as the OA-X demo, said they were closely following the opportunity.

“We haven’t learned a lot but we’re certainly watching it,” said Taco Gilbert, senior vice president for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for Sierra Nevada Corp., which has teamed with Embraer to offer the A-29 Super Tucano. “As we try to perceive what they would be looking for, we think the A-29 is a very attractive option.”

The A-29 is facing off against three other planes during the OA-X experiment: the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine turboprop and the Scorpion jet offered by Textron, as well as L3 and Air Tractor’s AT-802L Longsword, a militarized version of the AT-802 cropduster.

“We are excited about it and we are eager to find out what specifically they are looking for,” Tom Menker, Air Tractor’s business development and government affairs representative, told Defense News in an Aug. 8 interview.

“If they are looking for an aircraft that has the ability to add new systems quickly [and] effectively, an aircraft that has the space to integrate new sensors by virtue of the hard points we have [and] by virtue of the internal space we have to add new subsystems [and] new avionics, we feel very well positioned.”

Bill Harris, Textron’s vice president of Scorpion jet sales, also expressed interest in the opportunity, but noted that not much is known about what kinds of capabilities the Air Force and SOCOM are looking for.

“We’ll continue to monitor it,” he said Aug. 7.

The original solicitation notes that LASSO is separate and distinct from the Air Force’s light attack experiment. In comments to The War Zone, Brian Brackens, an Air Force spokesman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, described LASSO as a “complimentary” effort.

“The light attack experiment focuses on the light attack platform,” he said. “Light attack support for special ops focuses on platform agnostic capabilities (i.e. sensors, munitions & mission systems) that may be compatible with any light attack platform.”

Brackens specified that SOCOM was not interested in developing its own light attack aircraft apart from the OA-X effort.

However, that does not preclude SOCOM from joining an Air Force OA-X buy, should the service decide to start a program of record.

If LASSO turns out to be a search only for equipment that can be incorporated on light attack aircraft, that could be a boon for L3 Technologies. As the prime contractor and lead systems integrator on the Longsword, it is responsible for weaponizing the AT-802. Part of that role includes outfitting it with new sensors and weapon systems, many of which are of its own design, like its Wescam MX-15 electro-optical infrared sensor and ForceX mission management system.

“LASSO is meant to be platform agnostic, but the idea of being able to propose the kinds of systems that are being developed on Longsword and within other pursuits that we’ve done is certainly there,” said Pat Penland, L3’s vice president of transport programs.

Over the past decade, the U.S. military has had an on-and-off interest in light attack platforms, beginning with the Navy’s Imminent Fury demonstration in the late 2000s, where Navy special operators flew the A-29 — a fact noted by Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Gilbert. That effort was then expanded into the Combat Dragon II exercise, which saw the Navy testing the OV-10 Bronco in the Middle East. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has called Combat Dragon II the forerunner of the current light attack aircraft experiment.

While the Air Force has no program of record in place to buy an OA-X platform, the ongoing experiments are meant to help service officials gauge whether an inexpensive, off-the-shelf aircraft could be utilized in the Middle East in lieu of fighter jets, which have a much higher operating cost and are oftentimes overly sophisticated for the counter-terrorism mission.

Special operators — who oftentimes work in more austere conditions than conventional forces — are a natural customer for the kinds of platforms participating in the OA-X experiment, most of which are optimized to conduct close-air-support missions cheaply in places where runways might not be available.

“We work a lot with our special operators and we know the types of attributes, generally, they look for in their equipment,” Gilbert said. “It needs to be versatile. It needs to be rugged. It needs to be dependable and sustainable and low cost because our special operations forces frequently operate on a little bit of a shoestring, and we think that the A-29 offers those capabilities as well.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the other participants made similar statements about their own products.
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[*] posted on 12-8-2017 at 11:45 AM

US special forces detail requirements for light attack aircraft

11 August, 2017 SOURCE: BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

As the US Air Force wraps up its OA-X light attack demonstration this week, US Special Operations Command released its own solicitation for a separate special operations light attack aircraft.

Late last month, the USAF unveiled plans to pursue an open-ended technology hunt called light attack support for special operations (LASSO).

On 11 August, the service released the first LASSO solicitation detailing technologies of interest, including next-generation cockpit cueing systems, data-linked munitions and Stand-Off Precision Guided Munitions. The broad agency announcement emphasizes the effort is separate from the USAF’s ongoing OA-X experiment and any other light attack projects.

“This effort should not conflict with or be confused with any other light attack aircraft program or effort,” the BAA states.
The service wants a cockpit cueing system able to designate time-sensitive targets and provide target data in real time through video and imagery. In addition to employing stand-off precision guided munitions, the aircraft should integrate encrypted data link systems into existing SOPGM, the BAA states.

The LASSO solicitation also calls for improved sensor capabilities, such as a pod-mounted sensor with the ability to track moving targets and beyond line of sight capability. The 20- or 15-inch aperture system should also be able to operate through fog, smoke, clouds, precipitation and dust. Ideally, USSOCOM would fuse a suite of sensors onboard the platform, providing nearly real-time multi-INT situational awareness.
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[*] posted on 14-9-2017 at 09:51 PM

DSEI 2017: USMC special ops look for new UAS

14th September 2017 - 10:09 GMT | by Beth Maundrill in London

The US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) will be looking to trial a group two UAV in the near future, Shephard  has learnt.

MARSOC recently conducted trials of the Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack, a smaller group three UAS, completing 1,000 hours of flights over a five month period from August 2016 to April 2018, according to Col John Neville, programme manager for the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263).

Neville said that the trials were ‘borne out of an urgent need that came into the [PMA-263] office’.

There is an expeditionary requirement for MARSOC to have an unmanned capability that can be launched and recovered without the use of a runway. The trails with a group two UAS could see a VTOL solution utilised.

In January 2017 the US Navy and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) contracted manufacturer Insitu for the first full-rate production lot of the RQ-21A Blackjack. Neville said the Blackjack trails with MARSOC was the same configuration as that destined for the USMC.

The $70.8 million contract will see six systems manufactured.

A system includes five RQ-21A aircraft, ground control stations, payloads, launch and recovery equipment, and systems engineering and programme management.

Ryan Hartman, Insitu CEO, said that the company currently has the capacity to manufacture one system a month under the current full rate production lot but it is primed for two systems a month.

Work on Lot 1 is expected to be complete by February 2018, the requirement was first set back in 2006.

The USMC will be outfitting Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons one through four with the RQ-21A, replacing the RQ-7B Shadow UAS.

The RQ-21A was the aircraft utilised to complete the company’s one millionth fight hour in August 2017. The milestone was reached with the company’s ScanEagle, Integrator and Blackjack UAS.

Hartman said that the company was continuing to look at next generation capabilities, which could include new sensors, and was in that process now.

The Canadian Army is also utilising the RQ-21A having signed an agreement with NAVAIR in August 2016 for use of the system.
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