March's top stories: Ukrainian National Guard training, Black Hawk crash

The US Department of Defense moved ahead with a mission to start training the Ukrainian National Guard personnel in late-April, the Canadian Government introduced a motion to extend military mission against Islamic State, and Raytheon test launched TOW 2A RF missiles from an AH-1W Cobra helicopter. Army-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from March 2015.


US soldiers

Pentagon prepares to start training Ukraine National Guard in April

The US Department of Defense (DoD) moved ahead with a long-planned mission to train Ukrainian National Guard personnel in late-April.

Pentagon spokesman army colonel Steve Warren said: "We plan on sending about 290 US service members, specifically paratroopers from the army's mighty 173rd 'Sky Soldiers' Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy."

The service members were expected to be deployed to Ukraine to train six Ukraine National Guard companies with a focus on internal security and territorial defence.

Canadian Government introduces motion to extend military mission against ISIL

Stephen Harper

The Canadian Government introduced a motion in the House of Commons to extend and expand the country's contribution to the global fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Sponsored by the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, the motion sought the approval of parliament to extend the Canadian Military mission, known as Operation Impact, by up to one year, until 30 March 2016.

The expanded mandate would include deployment of Canadian CF-188 Hornet fighters to join coalition partners launching airstrikes against ISIL militants within Syria.

Raytheon conduct first launch of TOW 2A RF missiles from AH-1W helicopter

Cobra helicopter

Raytheon conducted the first launch of the tube-launched, optically-tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) 2A radio frequency (RF) practise missiles from an AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter during an exercise in an undisclosed location.

Supported by the Naval Air Systems Command, the trial witnessed launch of two TOW 2A RF practise missiles at ranges exceeding 2,600m, with both hitting their targets within inches of the aim points.

The test launch successfully verified the missile's capability to be fired from a hovering aircraft and from an aircraft manoeuvring to a threat.

Arab League countries agree to establish unified military force

The Arab League countries have agreed to establish a joint military force to counter increasing regional security threats.

Signed during the two-day Arab summit in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh, the communiqué calls for creation of a voluntary Arab military force that can be deployed to combat challenges threatening the safety and security of any member, based on a request made by that country, as reported by Al Arabiya News.

According to media reports, the organisation will now create a 'high-level team' with representatives from each of its members to formulate the structure and mechanism of the future force over the next few months.

US and coalition partners bombard Islamic State targets in Tikrit, Iraq

Tikrt operations

US and coalition warplanes launched air strikes to help the Iraqi security forces drive out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants from the Iraqi city of Tikrit.

The operations began after the Iraqi Government requested that the US provide direct support to the Iraqi forces as they strike militants in and around Tikrit.

Combined joint task force operation Inherent Resolve commanding general army lieutenant general James Terry said: "These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimising collateral damage to infrastructure.

Obama agrees to delay US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

The US Government agreed to delay the planned withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan to help the country's security forces succeed during the upcoming fighting season.

The announcement came as part of press conference after a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.

US President Barack Obama said: "President Ghani has requested some flexibility on our drawdown timelines.

Airbus partners with KAI for South Korea's LAH/LCH programme

LAH helicopter

Airbus Helicopters partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to work on South Korea's light-armed helicopter/ light-civil helicopter (LAH/LCH) development programme.

With an estimated KRW1tn ($978m) budget, supported by the South Korean Government and overseas investors, the LCH/LAH project aims to develop two 5t class light-armed helicopter and light-civil helicopter.

The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) selected KAI as preferred bidder for the project in July 2014.

North Korea test-launches seven missiles into East Sea

North Korea reportedly tested seven surface-to-air missiles off its East coast, amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of ongoing US-South Korea military exercises.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that the North Korean military 'fired multiple rounds of ground-to-air missiles into the East Sea from Seondok, South Hamkyong Province', at around 6pm to 7pm.

A South Korean military official was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We believe they test-fired different kinds of surface-to-air missiles and the longest range is about 200km (125 miles).

US military UH-60 Black Hawk crashes in Florida

Black Hawk

Search and rescue teams looked for 11 service members who went missing after their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, US.

The Louisiana National Guard said in a statement that the helicopter was carrying four army soldiers and seven marines, and went down near Eglin range site A-17, east of the Navarre Bridge,

Assigned to the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, it was one of two Black Hawks participating in a routine night-time exercise involving the Marine Special Operations Regiment from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The second helicopter and its personnel returned safely, the statement added, noting that the debris from the aircraft was later discovered by a search and rescue team.

Boeing and Saab conduct first test-firing of GLSDB

Boeing and Saab conducted the first test-firing of the ground launched small diameter bomb (GLSDB) from an undisclosed location.

The trial confirmed that the GLSDB, integrated with Boeing's small diameter bomb I (SDB I) originally developed for use by aircraft and M26 rocket motor technologies for the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), can withstand a rocket artillery launch without its performance being compromised.

Boeing Weapons and Missile Systems vice-president Beth Kluba said: "GLSDB combines two highly successful, combat-proven systems into an effective ground forces offensive capability.