USAF flexes its long-range airpower in Australia

The United States Air Force (USAF) has recently fielded some of its most important assets for training exercises and extended deployments in Australia to demonstrate its ability to project both tactical and strategic airpower to distant locations in the Asia Pacific, as well as interoperate with its regional allies and partners.

In the latest development, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth combat aircraft arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Tindal in the Northern Territory on 18 August as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) programme. The activity is separate from Exercise Pitch Black 2022, a major multilateral exercise – comprising over 100 aircraft from 17 countries – which commenced a day later in the same state.

“This program has been in place since 2017, which builds on a broad range of long-standing air exercises and training activities undertaken between Australia and the United States,” said Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie, Air Commander Australia.

“It is the same program that recently saw B-1 Lancer aircraft visit RAAF Base Darwin in June during Exercise Diamond Storm and also B-2 Spirit Stealth bombers visit RAAF Base Amberley recently in July, integrating into Exercises Koolendong and Arnhem Thunder,” AVM Goldie explained.

“It is testament to how well our two Air Forces assimilate, that these incredible aircraft are able to visit our bases and utilise our infrastructure and support services, so we can all train closely with one another,” he added.

According to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), the EAC is an advanced air-to-air integration activity between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and US air elements improve interoperability and has been successfully operating for several years as one of the United States Force Posture Initiatives.

Meanwhile, four USAF Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bombers – representing 20% of the service’s total B-2 bomber fleet – also recently concluded the type’s first deployment to Australia under the Bomber Task Force (BTF) initiative.

The first two B-2s, ‘Spirit of New York and Spirit of Ohio’, arrived at RAAF Base Amberley on 10 July to support a BTF deployment, the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said in a statement. Another two bombers, ‘Spirit of Arizona’ and ‘Spirit of Alaska’, on 12 July, although the latter was subsequently replaced by ‘Spirit of Florida’ around late July.

Only partial details of the bomber’s activities in Australia were publicly disclosed due to operational security concerns, but those that were revealed included red-teaming against Australian forces, as well as air-to-air refuelling with the RAAF’s KC-30 tankers and drills with the RAAF’s airborne early warning and electronic warfare assets such as the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail and R/A-18G Growlers.

“The US Force Posture Initiatives demonstrate the strength of the Australia-US alliance and our deep engagement with the Indo-Pacific. This will ensure we continue to be prepared to operate in the deteriorating strategic environment described in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update,” said the DoD.

by Jr Ng

 

Australian Defence Force

The ADF consists of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and several “tri-service” units. The ADF has a strength of just over 85,000 full-time personnel and active reservists and is supported by the Department of Defence and several other civilian agencies. During the first decades of the 20th century, the Australian Government established the armed services as separate organizations. Each service had an independent chain of command. In 1976, the government made a strategic change and established the ADF to place the services under a single headquarters. Over time, the degree of integration has increased, and tri-service headquarters, logistics, and training institutions have supplanted many single-service establishments.

The ADF is technologically sophisticated but relatively small. Although the ADF’s 58,206 full-time active-duty personnel and 29,560 active reservists make it the largest military in Oceania, it is smaller than most Asian military forces. Nonetheless, the ADF is supported by a significant budget by worldwide standards and can deploy forces in multiple locations outside Australia.

 

Britain allocated £100 million to buy U.S. spy balloons that can track hypersonic weapons

U.S.-made high-altitude unguided balloons will be used for reconnaissance and surveillance. The U.K. Ministry of Defence has allocated £100 million. As part of the Aether project, the United Kingdom wants advanced communications systems for long-term missions.

The defence establishment said it wants spy balloons for near-real-time surveillance and reconnaissance. One of the key requirements for the communications system is fast manoeuvrings and minimal maintenance.

Sierra Nevada Corporation Air balloons can stay in the air for long periods of time without having to return to the ground. Another feature of the balloons is the ability to track hypersonic weapons.

 

US Tests the NEW Super A-10 Warthog After Getting An Upgrade

With its razor-sharp fangs and an Avenger Gatling gun, the Super A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog is the United States’ most successful Close Air Support fighter and now it is back, better, and stronger than ever before. But it seems the first fighter it would be going up against isn’t of Chinese or Russian origin – but rather, a fellow American that’s been trying to steal its job – specifically the F-35 Lightning II. And so in this video, we take a detailed look at why and how two fighters that should be on the same team are looking to rip each other apart.

 

Army conducts Exercise Overland – Nautical Petros 22

Petroleum Operators from 17th Sustainment Brigade conducted Exercise Overland – Nautical Petros 22 (EX ONP 22) at Cowley Beach Training Area in Queensland, from 1st to 19th August 2022. EX ONP 22 aimed to qualify Petroleum Operators in the collective operation and supervision of a suite of petroleum capabilities. This included establishing bulk fuel storage areas, Inland Pipeline Distribution System, Advanced Fuel Quality Control and more.

At the core of the Exercise was the demonstration of the ADF’s capability of moving fuel from a ship to land without support from fixed infrastructure, which falls into its light ship-to-shore transfer capability.

 

Army armoured vehicles project under review

Photo: The Hanwha Redback (left) and Rheinmetall Lynx (right) dwarf the Vietnam-era M113AS4 vehicle one of them will replace, during a 2021 open day at Canberra’s Blamey Square. Photo: Andrew McLaughlin.

By Andrew McLaughlin

A major project to replace a fleet of Vietnam-era armoured personnel carriers (APC) for the Australian Army is under review, as the overall requirement for the vehicles is called into question.

When issued in 2021, the Project LAND 400 Phase 3 Mounted Close Combat Capability requirement called for 450 new heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) to each carry up to a dozen troops.

In October 2021, after two years of comprehensive risk-mitigation testing, two companies submitted their final bids for the up to $27 billion tender– Hanwha Defence Australia, and Rheinmetall Defence Australia.

With each weighing about 42 tonnes, the 6.9m-long Hanwha AS21 Redback and the 7.4m-long Rheinmetall KF41 Lynx IFVs are considerably larger and more sophisticated than the 6m-long, 18t M113AS4 APCs they will replace. Both are armed with 40mm cannons, anti-tank missiles, and machine guns, feature advanced communications and sensors, and have armour and countermeasures capable of defeating most anti-armour weapons.

It should be noted that IFVs are not ‘tanks’. Main Battle Tanks (MBT) such as Australia’s M1A1 Abrams weigh about 70 tonnes, have a crew of three or four, and are built around large-calibre guns designed specifically for destroying enemy tanks and vehicles or fortified structures.

MBTs are vital tools for land or joint force campaigns where the goal is to take and hold ground, and are usually operated in conjunction with infantry who are either mounted in IFVs or dismounted on foot.

The requirement for much higher levels of protection for IFVs came from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past two decades where, early in those conflicts, armoured vehicles were defeated or destroyed by crude roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or Soviet-era shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons. This led to the development of heavier armour, angled panels and decks, and V-shaped blast-resistant hulls meant added protection for crews and embarked troops, which in turn led to a dramatic increase in vehicle weight.

Despite those wars now being behind us, the threat of advanced anti-armour weapons is only increasing. As we have seen in recent conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and Ukraine, older armoured vehicles are particularly susceptible to advanced shoulder-launched guided missiles like the FGM-148 Javelin supplied to Ukraine by the US, as well as the increased proliferation of drone-launched weapons.

So, while providing increased protection against these threats, this has led to two new issues, especially for potential operators as small as the Australian Army. The first is cost – up to $27 billion for 450 armoured vehicles is a lot of money, although the project also includes new base facilities, training systems, weapons and ordnance, options for more vehicles, and an initial sustainment package.

Regardless of who wins the bid the IFVs will be manufactured in Australia, so at least a proportion of that money spent will stay in the country.

Both companies are also offering substantial wider global supply chain opportunities for Australian industry should they be selected.

The second issue is, how does a defence force as small as Australia’s transport these new vehicles? If used on Australian soil, the IFVs can be deployed reasonably rapidly by dedicated road or rail transport and, when used in conjunction with Abrams tanks and air-defence systems, would be capable of mounting a viable defence of any population centre or base in Australia’s north.

But if an offshore deployment is required, only one IFV can be carried at a time in a Royal Australian Air Force C-17, the ADF’s largest transport aircraft – of which it has just eight. The Royal Australian Navy has two large landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessels capable of embarking up to 100 armoured vehicles but, unless there are appropriate port facilities at the destination, only four IFVs at any one time can be put ashore on amphibious landing craft.

Because of some of these doubts that have been raised in the media and by defence thinktanks such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), it has been reported that the number of IFVs to be acquired may be cut from 450 to fewer than 300, and that the money saved may be diverted to other, more time-sensitive priorities identified in the Government’s new Defence Strategic Review, or pushed to the right to help address Australia’s huge post-pandemic economic debt.

 

The Partners of Veterans Association of Australia

IN THE BEGINNING

The Partners of Veterans Association of Australia was formed in NSW in August 1999. Our Association is unique among ex-service organisations in that our primary function is to support partners of veterans, their dependants, ex-partners, family members, widows and widowers, carers, who live with or have lived with a current or ex-serving Veteran or ADF member.

We are an incorporated not-for-profit charitable entity and a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI).

The Association has grown over the years to include state branches in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. The NSW State Branch is responsible for ACT and NT. We have a National Board that oversees the association with representation from all state branches.

The Association works with other ex-service organisations to better support all members of the veteran community. We have representatives on the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table, the Australian Defence Services Organisation, the Operational Working Party, the Female Veterans and Family Forum and National Aged & Community Care Forum.

At a national and state level we lobby Federal and State Governments and government departments. Our aim is not only to support the partners and families of our generation but also the needs of future generations and to have in place a support network that was not available when many of our Veterans returned from their service or transitioned out of the ADF.

We are your voice and over the past 22 years have contributed enormously to the recognition of partners and families, gaining many changes in government for benefits that we receive today. Over these years we have also been heavily involved in assistance for our children.

Our Association and Defence Families of Australia took the lead in lobbying the Minister for Veterans Affairs & Defence Personnel and the Defence Department, for Kookaburra Kids to be granted funding so that children living in a military family affected by mental illness could attend camps and outings with other Defence children.

Becoming involved with PVA as a member of like-minded people is a rewarding experience and often helps us gain self-esteem and confidence in an environment of support and friendship.

Members include Partners/carers of Veterans, mothers, fathers and siblings caring for single ADF members; and Grandparents who have custody or temporary care of the children of either a current or former ADF member.

There are now numerous groups throughout Australia where members meet for the support and understanding of those in similar circumstances.

For further information about the work we do, please visit our website (www.pva.org.au) or call our National Support Line 1300 553 835 if you need assistance.

Narelle Bromhead OAM

Death Notice Nicholas (Nick) Hugh Marshall, MID – RAA

We have received advice of the death on 23 August 2022 of Nicholas (Nick) Marshall. He was 84. Nick was the Battery Commander of 101st Field Battery in Vietnam during 1966/67 and later was Commanding Officer of 4th Field Regiment from October 1973 until December 1975. Nick was a life subscriber of the 101 Battery Association. Nick deteriorated quickly in the week before his death and died painlessly and peacefully. A private service will be held for him in Sydney in the coming week.

RIP Nicholas Hugh Marshall.

Peter Bruce, OAM

Obituary Resource Officer

BE AWARE OF THIS SCAM

ACCC warning of suspicious messages as “Hi Mum” scams spike Scamwatch is urging the public to be wary of phone messages from a family member or friend claiming they need help, following a significant rise in “Hi Mum” scams in recent months.

More than 1,150 Australians fell victim to the so-called “Hi Mum” scam in the first seven months of this year, with total reported losses of $2.6 million. The vast majority of these scams were reported in June and July 2022.

Known as “Hi Mum” or “family impersonation” scams, victims are contacted – most often through WhatsApp – by a scammer posing as a family member or friend.

The scammer will claim they have lost or damaged their phone and are making contact from a new number. Then, once they have developed a rapport with their target, the scammer will ask for personal information such as photos for their social media profile or money to help urgently pay a bill, contractor or replace the phone.

These requests continue the ruse of a lost or broken phone with the justification that the funds are needed because they can’t access their online banking temporarily.

Some messages will simply say “it’s me,” while in other cases the scammers appear to have contact information and use the name of the person they are impersonating.

“We have seen an explosion in the number of ‘Hi Mum’ scams in the past couple of months, and so we are warning Australians to be very wary of messages from unknown numbers claiming to be from their children, parents, relatives or friends,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Scammers will stop at nothing to get your personal details or money and this particular scam is designed to pull your heartstrings. It’s important to stop and think if you get a message, especially on WhatsApp, because chances are it’s not your family member or friend – it’s a scammer.”

The ACCC is urging people who receive suspicious messages from a number they don’t recognise, to independently verify the contact.

“If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be your son, daughter, relative or friend, start by calling them on the number already stored in your phone to confirm if it’s no longer in use. If they pick up – you know it’s a scam,” Ms Rickard said.

“If unable to make contact, you should try a secondary contact method to verify who you’re speaking to. If you still can’t contact your family member or friend, consider asking a personal question a scammer couldn’t know the answer to, so you know the person you are speaking to is who they say they are.”

“Above all, never send money without being absolutely sure who you are sending it to,” Ms Rickard said.

Over two-thirds of family impersonation scams have been reported by women over 55 years of age, accounting for more than $1.4 million in losses.

“Unfortunately, these unscrupulous scammers are targeting women and older Australians, with 82 per cent of family impersonation scams reported by people over the age of 55, accounting for 95 per cent of all reported losses,” Ms Rickard said.

“If you have reason to believe you have been scammed, contact your bank as soon as possible as they may be able to find where the money went, block scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers.”

People who detect a scam, regardless of whether they have lost money, can report scams and learn more about how to get help on the Scamwatch website at scamwatch.gov.au

They can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter and subscribe to Scamwatch radar alerts to keep up to date with advice for avoiding the latest scams circulating in the community.

If you have provided personal information, as most victims have, contact IDCARE immediately.

More information about scams can be found in the ACCC’s latest Targeting Scams report.

Background The ACCC-run Scamwatch aims to raise awareness about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. It shares intelligence and works with government, law enforcement and the private sector to disrupt and prevent scams.

If you have experienced a loss online and believe the perpetrator is in Australia, you can report the scam to ReportCyber. ReportCyber triages all reports and allocates to the relevant law enforcement authorities for further action.

For crisis support to help with emotional distress about scams contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or access support via the online chat between 7pm and midnight www.lifeline.org.au. Beyond Blue also provides support for anxiety and depression 1300 22 4636 or chat online www.beyondblue.org.au.

 

Death Notice Geoffrey Charles SERBUTT – RAA

We have received advice about the death recently of Geoffrey Charles (Geoff) Serbutt. Geoff died in England at the age of 75. He had been suffering from prostate cancer but managed to enjoy life to the end. He is survived by his wife Denise, and their daughter Jessica, and son Ben. Geoff was a National Serviceman who served with 1st Field Regiment in Vietnam from November 1968 until November 1969 with the rank of Bombardier. He was involved in the Battle of Binh Bar during Operation Hammer in June 1968.

RIP Geoffrey Charles Serbutt.

Peter Bruce, OAM

Obituary Resource Officer