50 Percent
structurally complete

On June 22, 2017, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) grew about 70 feet/21.3 m in length with the addition of the lower stern. The lower stern was lifted into place at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, where the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier is now 50 percent structurally complete.

Shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding lifted the lower stern of CVN-79 into place
Shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding lifted the lower stern of CVN-79 into place

Like Ford, Kennedy is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form larger structural units (called «superlifts»), equipment is then installed, and the large superlifts are lifted into the dry dock using the company’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.

«This is a significant milestone in the ship’s construction schedule», said Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president, USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and USS Enterprise (CVN-80) aircraft carrier construction. «We are halfway through lifting the units onto the ship, and many of the units are larger and nearly all are more complete than the CVN-78 lifts were. This is one of many lessons learned from the construction of the lead ship that are helping to reduce construction costs and improve efficiencies on Kennedy».

After several days of preparations, the 932-metric ton lower stern lift took about an hour to complete, thanks to a team of about 25 shipbuilders – from riggers and the crane operator to shipwrights and ship fitters. The lower stern consists of 30 individual units and includes the ship’s rudders, steering gear rooms and electrical power distribution room. The carrier is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford and 149 fewer than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last Nimitz-class carrier.

The lower stern, which weights 932 metric tons, consists of 30 individual units and includes the ship’s rudders, steering gear rooms and electrical power distribution room
The lower stern, which weights 932 metric tons, consists of 30 individual units and includes the ship’s rudders, steering gear rooms and electrical power distribution room

 

General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Propulsion 2 A1B* nuclear reactors, 4 shafts
Length 1,092 feet/333 m
Beam 134 feet/41 m
Flight Deck Width 256 feet/78 m
Flight Deck Square 217,796 feet2/20,234 m2
Displacement approximately 100,000 long tons full load
Speed 30+ knots/34.5+ mph/55.5+ km/h
Crew 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff)
Armament ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile), RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)
Aircraft 75+

* – Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. serves the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) Reaches 50 Percent Structural Completion
Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) Reaches 50 Percent Structural Completion

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 11-13-2009 11-09-2013
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) 08-22-2015
USS Enterprise (CVN-80)

John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) Lower Stern Lift

JSTARS Recapitalization

Lockheed Martin is pleased to announce that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has joined the Skunk Works Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) Recapitalization (Recap) team, which currently includes Bombardier and Raytheon, bringing greater value to the partnership, and the team’s ability to deliver a premier solution to the U.S. Air Force.

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-led team delivers a low-risk, affordable solution for the United States Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program (LM image)
The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-led team delivers a low-risk, affordable solution for the United States Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program (LM image)

SNC, which previously qualified as a prime contractor candidate for the U.S. Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program, will perform modifications to Bombardier’s Global 6000 aircraft, and will help obtain the necessary airworthiness certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Air Force. This strategic partnership further enhances this powerful industry team to provide a system that will drive cost-savings, schedule and performance efficiencies for the U.S. Air Force.

«We are extremely pleased to combine forces with the Lockheed Martin-led team», said Ralph Pollitt, senior vice president of SNC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) business area. «We look forward to contributing to the team’s success by applying decades of experience in modifying and certifying commercial and military aircraft for a wide-variety of users around the globe».

Lockheed Martin is the lead systems integrator for the program, while Raytheon brings its experience with ground surveillance, ISR systems, and JSTARS communications. Bombardier will provide its ultra-long-range Global 6000 business jet platform, which is less expensive to operate than modern airliners and is uniquely suited to the JSTARS Recap mission.

«SNC shares our team’s vision and commitment to our warfighters», said Andrew Adams, vice president of Advanced Systems, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «Together we will deliver a system that offers the optimum solution – quickly and affordably».

Special Operations

On June 20, 2017, at the Paris Air Show, Lockheed Martin officials introduced the C-130J-SOF, the newest Super Hercules aircraft configured for international military special operations requirements.

Lockheed Martin's latest C-130J variant, the C-130J-SOF, a Super Hercules configured to support international special operations forces missions
Lockheed Martin’s latest C-130J variant, the C-130J-SOF, a Super Hercules configured to support international special operations forces missions

The C-130J-SOF is the 10th production variant of the Super Hercules. This multi-mission aircraft is specifically intended to meet the unique demands associated with executing operations of strategic importance in support of international Special Operations Forces (SOF).

«The C-130J’s inherent versatility is capable of supporting missions across a broad spectrum of military operations, and this is amplified once again with the C-130J-SOF», said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. «As our global partners face increasing and evolving threats that transcend borders, they want a proven solution. The C-130J-SOF, is in fact, the solution that will ensure security is preserved around the world».

The C-130J-SOF Super Hercules provides the capability to execute Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and psychological operations, airdrop resupply, personnel recovery, humanitarian relief, as well as infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of SOF personnel.

With added special mission equipment options, the C-130J-SOF Super Hercules may also be configured for armed overwatch that includes a 30-mm gun and Hellfire missiles, helicopter/fighter/vertical lift aerial refueling, and Forward Area Refueling Point (FARP) operations.

«Our global partners said they need to support their SOF teams with a solution that is reliable, affordable, effective and integrated. They must support their teams in the sky, on the sea and on the ground», said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility and Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «International operators want a special missions Super Hercules that’s proven and a true force multiplier. Today, we offer that solution to the world in the form of the C-130J-SOF».

The C-130J Super Hercules is the airlifter of choice for 17 nations, offering superior performance and capabilities, with the range and versatility for every theater of operations. To date, the global Super Hercules fleet has surpassed more than 1.5 million flight hours.

SmartGlider family

MBDA presents the new SmartGlider family of guided weapons, optimised to counter anti-access strategies and other emerging battlespace threats. Planned to become available for fast jets no later than 2025, SmartGlider forms a family of all-up-round glider weapons, with folding wings and a range of over 62 miles/100 km. This new generation of air-to-ground weapons is designed to counter new networked short- and medium-range surface-to-air threats, as well as moving/relocatable targets or hardened fixed targets.

SmartGlider family of guided weapons
SmartGlider family of guided weapons

The compact family member, SmartGlider Light, is 6.56 feet/2 meters long and weighs 264.5 lbs/120 kg. 12 to 18 SmartGlider Lights can be carried on an aircraft thanks to a Hexabomb Smart Launcher (HSL) capable of managing reactive strikes without affecting the pilot’s workload. As such, the SmartGlider Light will allow first-day-entry by saturating and destroying enemy air defences.

For general purpose missions, the SmartGlider Light can be engaged against a wide spectrum of targets, from hardened and defended fixed targets such as hangars, to relocatable targets that can only be destroyed from a standoff distance with significant lethal effects.

Last, MBDA also prepares a 2,866 lbs/1,300 kg SmartGlider Heavy able to carry a multipurpose warhead of more than 2,204.6 lbs/1,000 kg to deal with large and hardened infrastructure.

«The SmartGlider family considerably reinforces the air-to-ground capabilities of the combat platform, sitting between the bombs equipped with guidance kits and cruise missiles», explains François Moussez, MBDA Military Advisor. «Designed for use in high volumes in order to saturate air defences, SmartGliders are gliders that, thanks to a high lift-to-drag ratio and their integrated guidance and navigation, will feature a range of over 62 miles/100 km allowing the combat platform to stay at safe distance from the enemy defences».

Lionel Mazenq, Business Development Manager France, adds: «Our SmartGliders will integrate new technologies in their guidance and navigation functions, as well as multipurpose warheads. Thus, they will be able to reach and destroy the best defended targets, notably enemy air defences, thanks to a mix of optronics and radio frequency sensors that makes them robust against anti-access measures».

«Throughout thirty years of work on the SCALP/Storm Shadow and now on future deep strike, MBDA has gained an in-depth understanding of penetrative missions in hostile territory», states Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA. «We have therefore been able to optimise the costs of the aircraft and missile combination and succeeded in designing a truly efficient weapon for use in high volumes that perfectly complements the SCALP/Storm Shadow and its future follow-on FC/ASW that we are developing through Anglo-French cooperation».

Final land test

The U.S. Navy successfully executed a test of the surface-to-air Standard Missile-6 Block IA (SM-6 Blk IA) at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), New Mexico, June 7.

A SM-6 missile is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy
A SM-6 missile is loaded into a specialized container at the Raytheon Redstone Missile Integration Facility for delivery to the U.S. Navy

This test demonstrated SM-6 Blk IA’s improved capabilities and integration with the Aegis weapon system. The event was the third of three required flight tests successfully executed at WSMR. At-sea testing of the SM-6 Blk IA is planned to commence in the fall of 2017.

«This final land test is a critical milestone which demonstrates Blk IA’s improved capability», said Captain John Keegan, Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) major program manager for surface ship weapons. «I am very proud of the entire test team for their extensive planning and technical rigor that went into execution of this event».

The SM-6 Blk IA provides an over-the-horizon engagement capability when launched from an Aegis-equipped warship and uses the latest in hardware and software missile technology to provide needed capabilities against evolving air threats. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for SM-6 Blk IA is planned for the end of 2018.

PEO IWS is an affiliated program executive office of Naval Sea Systems Command. PEO IWS is responsible for spearheading surface ship and submarine combat technologies and systems, and for implementing Navy enterprise solutions across ship platforms.

First JLTVs

An infantry brigade combat team of the 10th Mountain Division will be the first unit to get the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, or JLTVs, around January 2019 once full-rate production kicks in, said Colonel Shane Fullmer.

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle does a demonstration run around Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 14, 2017 (Photo Credit: David Vergun)
A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle does a demonstration run around Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 14, 2017 (Photo Credit: David Vergun)

Fullmer, the joint program manager for the JLTV program, spoke at a JLTV demonstration and media roundtable here on June 14.

The brigade will receive 500 JLTVs on a one-for-one replacement of the unit’s current fleet of Humvees, he said.

Officials said that a total of about 100 JLTVs are being provided this year by Oshkosh Defense, the maker of the vehicle, at a low-rate initial production of about 10 per month to the Army and Marine Corps for testing.

The full suite of testing includes command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; reliability qualification; and live-fire, according to a chart provided at the media roundtable.

The Army plans to purchase at least 50,000 JLTVs and the Marine Corps so far plans to buy about 5,500 for a total cost to both services of about $24 billion, with production extending over the course of 20 years, according to Army officials.

Andrew Rogers, program manager, Light Tactical Vehicles at Program Executive Officer (PEO) Land Systems Marine Corps, said the Marine Corps is re-evaluating its order and may order upwards of 10,000. The first JLTVs for the Marine Corps, he said, will go to a battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in late 2019.

 

FOUR VARIANTS

Fullmer said there are four variants of the JLTV that will be produced: general purpose, close-combat weapons carrier, heavy gun carrier and utility. Of those four variants, each comes in two door or four door options.

The two-seaters have an extended bed and are built to carry up to 5,100 pounds/2,313 kg of supplies, he said. The four-seaters carry about 3,500 pounds/1,588 kg, including four Soldiers seated and a fifth manning the weapons turret.

Weapons that can be carried in the JLTV include .50-caliber/.5 inches/12.7-mm machine guns, Mk-19 grenade launchers and TOW missiles, he noted.

Requirements for the JLTV production included the ability to be airlifted by Boeing CH-47 Chinook or Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters and to have a similar footprint as the Humvee so they’d fit inside the decks of amphibious ships, Fullmer said.

 

DRIVING CHARACTERISTICS

Learning to drive the JLTV is a breeze, Fullmer said. The first item that a driver will notice is the floating suspension, which can be adjusted. So, for example, if the vehicle is in a 30-degree incline, the driver can flatten out the suspension to level the vehicle.

Also, the operator has a display that shows the condition of the vehicle, including the engine, transmission and suspension.

The venerable Humvee had great maneuverability and payload but very little protection, particularly in the underbody, Fullmer said, while the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle had high protection levels but poor maneuverability, particularly in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. JLTV has all the advantages of payload, protection and performance, he concluded.

David Diersen, vice president and general manager of Joint Programs for Oshkosh Defense, said the JLTV has one-third the weight and half the price tag of the MRAP, and the JLTV is about 70 percent faster than the MRAP and much more maneuverable.

Diersen added that the JLTV’s Banks Engineering 866T Turbo diesel engine consumes diesel as well as JP8 and DF2 at fuel-efficient levels.

There have been discussions with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center as well as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for future autonomous operations, he noted.

Finally, Diersen explained that Oshkosh was able to keep the cost per vehicle down because the company also builds civilian vehicles and therefore has an economy of scale advantage. «So, you might see a JLTV rolling down the assembly line followed by a snowplow and garbage truck».

Fullmer said the JLTV was kept on schedule and within budget because of cooperation and close dialog between the Army, Marine Corps, Oshkosh and the requirements and acquisition communities.

The JLTV in action during a media showing at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia

Construction of
Bougainville

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division has been awarded a $3 billion contract for the detail design and construction of the amphibious assault ship USS Bougainville (LHA-8). Ingalls was awarded the original long-lead material contract for the third ship in the USS America (LHA-6) class on June 30, 2016.

Construction of the amphibious assault ship USS Bougainville (LHA-8) is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, and delivery is expected in 2024
Construction of the amphibious assault ship USS Bougainville (LHA-8) is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, and delivery is expected in 2024

«Our shipbuilders do an outstanding job building large-deck amphibious warships», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said. «We look forward to incorporating 50 years of amphibious shipbuilding knowledge into the U.S. Navy’s newest assault ship and providing the sailors and Marines a complex and highly capable product to perform their missions of freedom».

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, and delivery is expected in 2024. USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the second of the America-class amphibious assault ships, is currently under construction at Ingalls and was launched on May 1. The ship will be christened on September 16.

Bougainville will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck. The well deck will give the U.S. Marine Corps the ability to house and launch two Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft or one Landing Craft Utility (LCU) as needed during their maritime missions. Other additions to Bougainville include a larger flight deck configured for Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and Osprey V-22 aircraft, which can be used for surface and aviation assaults. The additional area on the flight deck comes in part from a smaller deck house and an additional sponson.

USS Bougainville (LHA-8) will be the second Navy vessel to bear the name Bougainville. The name commemorates the Bougainville Campaign that took place during World War II. During the campaign, which lasted from 1943 to 1944, Allied forces secured a strategic airfield from Japan in the northern Solomon Islands, helping the allies break the Japanese stronghold in the South Pacific.

Ingalls is currently the sole builder of large-deck amphibious ships for the U.S. Navy. The shipyard delivered its first amphibious assault ship, the Iwo Jima-class USS Tripoli (LPH-10), in 1966. Ingalls has since built five Tarawa-class (LHA-1) ships, eight Wasp-class (LHD-1) ships and the first in a new class of ships, USS America (LHA-6).

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS America (LHA-6) 07-17-2009 06-04-2012 10-11-2014 San Diego, California
USS Tripoli (LHA-7) 06-22-2014 05-01-2017
USS Bougainville (LHA-8)

 

Acceptance of the first
AWD

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, on 16 June 2017 attended a ceremony at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide to mark the Government’s provisional acceptance of the first Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Hobart.

Defence accepts delivery of first Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart
Defence accepts delivery of first Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart

Minister Pyne said Hobart is the first of three AWD’s being built and integrated by the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance which comprises the Department of Defence, Raytheon Australia, ASC and support from Navantia.

«The acceptance of this first of class ship is a further demonstration of the success of the Government-led reform initiative, with the program meeting all budget and schedule targets, Hobart will enter into service later this year», Minister Pyne said.

«Hobart will play a critical role for Defence by providing new interoperable capabilities for the Royal Australian Navy. By using a combination of U.S. and Australian technologies, these ships will allow us to work even closer with our allies. Importantly, these ships will provide a safer environment for Australia’s entire Defence Force, as they have the ability to move faster for longer, whilst forming a protective bubble around themselves and other assets in a task force», he said.

Over the last decade, more than 5,000 skilled Australians have constructed all three AWD’s whilst also creating a new combat and support system to meet the unique needs of the Australian Defence Force.

Minister Pyne said provisional acceptance represented some of the most complex and innovative engineering accomplishments ever undertaken in Australia.

«These skills have taken over a decade to build and position Australia well to support the Government’s new Naval Shipbuilding Plan», he said. «The AWD program underscores the importance of Australia’s defence industry as a fundamental input into capability. Rather than just being a supplier for Defence, this program proves how Australian defence industry is truly a strategic partner with Defence».

 

Characteristics

Length 481.3 feet/146.7 m
Beam 61 feet/18.6 m
Draft 23.6 feet/7.2 m
Full load displacement 7,000 tonnes
Main Engine 36 MW/48,276 hp
Top speed 28+ knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range at 18+ knots/21 mph/33 km/h 5,000+ NM/5,779 miles/9,300 km
Crew 186
Accommodation 234
Combat System Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7.1
AN/SPY-1D(V) Phased Array Radar (81 NM/93 miles/150 km)
AN/SPQ-9B Horizon Search Radar
Mk-41 Vertical Launch System (48 VLS cells: RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM)/Standard Missile-2 (SM-2)/SM-6)
Mk-45 Mod.4 5” (127-mm) 62 Calibre Gun (Range: 20 NM/23 miles/37 km)
Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control (2 × 4 launchers)
Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite
Very Short Range Air and Surface Defence
Nulka Active Missile Decoy system
Integrated Sonar System incorporating a hull mounted and towed array sonar
Communications Suite
Aviation Flightdeck and hangar for one helicopter
Boats Two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs)

 

First flight

On 15 June 2017 Defence and security company Saab completed a successful first flight of the next generation smart fighter, Gripen E.

First flight success for Gripen E
First flight success for Gripen E

At 10:32 on Thursday June 15, Gripen E took off on its maiden flight, flown by a Saab test pilot. The aircraft (designation 39-8) left from Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden and flew over the eastern parts of Östergötland for 40 minutes. During the flight, the aircraft carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear.

«The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling. Needless to say, I’m very happy to have piloted this maiden flight», says Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab.

«Today we have flown this world class fighter aircraft for the first time. We achieved it with the fully qualified software for the revolutionary avionics system. This is about giving our customers a smart fighter system with the future designed in from the start. The flight test activities will continue to build on this achievement with the programme on track to achieve the 2019 delivery schedule to our Swedish and Brazilian customers», says Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab Business Area Aeronautics.

Saab has flown its Gripen-E new-generation fighter for the first time, almost exactly 13 months after its official roll-out. Developed for Sweden, it has also been ordered by Brazil and is being marketed world-wide (Saab photo)
Saab has flown its Gripen-E new-generation fighter for the first time, almost exactly 13 months after its official roll-out. Developed for Sweden, it has also been ordered by Brazil and is being marketed world-wide (Saab photo)

 

KEY DATA

Length overall 15.2 m/50 feet
Width overall 8.6 m/28 feet
Basic mass empty 8,000 kg/17,637 lbs
Internal fuel 3,400 kg/7,496 lbs
Maximum takeoff weight 16,500 kg/36,376 lbs
Maximum thrust 98 kN/9,993 kgf/22,031 lbf
Minimum takeoff distance 500 m/1,640 feet
Landing distance 600 m/1,968 feet
Maximum speed at sea level > 756 knots/870 mph/1400 km/h
Maximum speed at high altitude Mach 2
Supercruise capability Yes
Maximum service altitude > 16,000 m/52,500 feet
G-limits -3G / +9G
Hardpoints 10
Combat turnaround air-to-air 10 min
Full engine replacement 1 hour

 

Ukrainian brigades

By 2018, Ukrainian brigades will be better equipped to face separatists in the Donbass region after rotating through a combat training center in western Ukraine that the California National Guard helped to establish.

A BMP-2 provides support by fire to Ukrainian infantry during a platoon live-fire on June 23, 2016 at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv. The location is also the site of a new combat training center, developed with assistance from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of the California National Guard. It's expected that by 2018, the Ukrainian ground forces will be able to put brigade-sized elements through training at the CTC (Photo Credit: Captain Scott Kuhn)
A BMP-2 provides support by fire to Ukrainian infantry during a platoon live-fire on June 23, 2016 at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv. The location is also the site of a new combat training center, developed with assistance from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of the California National Guard. It’s expected that by 2018, the Ukrainian ground forces will be able to put brigade-sized elements through training at the CTC (Photo Credit: Captain Scott Kuhn)

Colonel Nick Ducich, who serves as commander of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which is part of the California National Guard, was instrumental in helping the Ukrainian military build the combat training center. He began formulating the idea for the center back in November 2015, when he was beginning a 14-month deployment to the region.

Ducich met June 7 with reporters in the Pentagon to discuss operations in Ukraine during his deployment. He relayed that he took 54 Soldiers from the California National Guard with him to the Ukraine, which has had a partnership with the California National Guard for more than 24 years as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.

Ducich explained that the new combat training center is co-located with the existing International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv, near the country’s border with Poland. The IPSC already hosts the Rapid Trident exercise each year and so is used to the demands of a training center, Ducich said. «It’s a pretty immense training area, so the foundation was there», Ducich said.

At the IPSC, he said, efforts focused on the training and mentoring of newly assigned personnel, including Ukrainian staff, instructors, and observer-controller trainers, and the soldier participants. The effort was part of an ongoing effort to help Ukrainian forces to achieve defense reform as well as full interoperability with NATO by 2020.

The IPSC added infrastructure such as a site for dedicated to training for military operations in simulated urbanized terrain. Staff instituted «effective range control for terrain management, safety procedures and remediation of unexploded ordnance, among other requirements», Ducich said. These additions «elevated the efficiency and effectiveness of the training area».

During his time in the Ukraine, Ducich reported that he saw five battalions of soldiers from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense rotating through the training center, with each unit on 55-day rotations. Those battalions had previously been fighting separatist forces to regain full control of the Donbass, a heavily populated region that makes up the eastern half of Ukraine.

«These rotations consisted of individual and collective training requirements, emphasizing leader development, team building, and combat arms synchronization, to reflect the necessary interoperability defense reforms», Ducich explained.

«The individual training included marksmanship, movement techniques, communications, and medical combat care», he continued. «The collective training began with pairs, elevating through squad, platoon, company and finally battalion-level events, highlighting defensive operations».

After their training rotations, the Ukrainian units returned to fighting. Ducich said some of the soldiers from each rotation were interviewed within 60 to 90 days after their rotations regarding the effectiveness of their training they received at the center.

«From that, we also learned what the newest techniques that the enemy was using, to try to see how we could adjust the training», Ducich said. «So, we were a learning, adaptive organization, within ourselves, of taking that flow of combat scenarios and actualities from the Donbass and incorporating them into the training plan within the 55-day construct».

Those lessons learned helped refine the focus at the training center to implement enhancements in training for large-scale movement, gunnery, indirect fires, and integration of weapons systems such as air defense capabilities.

The new combat training center is in its infancy, according to Ducich, and there’s still a lot to accomplish. Right now, there are only battalions rotating through the training center, but he hopes that brigade-sized elements will be able to rotate through by 2018.

Ducich said that from what he has seen, he thinks the Ukrainian ground forces are doing remarkably well.

«At brigade level, they are outstanding», he said. «They have been able to hold the line and begin the integration of the new weapons systems and rectify some of the logistical shortfalls that those brigades went to the Donbass with. I see the Ukrainian armed forces getting only stronger each day, whether it be logistically, or in their defensive posture, and in their capabilities».

Ducich said the Ukrainian army had suffered from more than 20 years of «neglect» in terms of funding, but the country is now mobilizing its defense industry, ramping up new capabilities, and focusing on both officer and NCO development.

«So, they are playing catch-up while engaged in conflict at the same time», he said. «So, I have a lot of patience for where they are right now. They are getting stronger every day. They had so many obstacles they had to overcome, on top of engaging an enemy in their own backyard».