Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group Enters 5th Fleet

The aft lookout stands the watch as a landing craft, air cushion prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran/Released)

November 18, 2009 -- After transiting the western Pacific Ocean, the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations this week to relieve the Bataan ARG.

While deployed to the region, Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard ARG and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set conditions for security and promote regional stability and global prosperity.

"We've been training for the MSO mission in this region for quite some time," said Capt. Rodney Clark, the ARG's commodore. "We're ready to execute when tasked."

While transiting the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR en route to the 5th Fleet AOR, the ARG/MEU team participated in humanitarian projects during Marine Exercise 2009, sending Sailors and Marines ashore in Indonesia and Timor-Leste to provide medical and dental care to more than 2,000 patients in cooperation with local health care officials.

Sailors and Marines also volunteered in over a dozen community service projects during four port visits in the area. Projects ranged from cleaning kennels at an animal shelter in Guam, repairing playground structures in Phuket, Thailand, and interacting with children at orphanages in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Maritime Security Operations develop security in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG consists of three ships – amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6); amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7); and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

In addition, the ARG includes the command element, Amphibious Squadron 7; Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1; Helicopter Sea Combat 23, Detachment 3; Assault Craft Unit 1, Detachment B; Assault Craft Unit 5, Detachment F; Beachmaster Unit 1, Detachment B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.

C-17 Heavy Airlifter Simulator Deliveried

November 18, 2009 -- Greg Combet, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, and Shayne Neumann, the Federal Member for Blair, announced today that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will benefit from the achievement of a major training milestone for Australia’s C-17 Heavy Airlift Capability.

“The C-17 Simulator commissioning marks the start of aircrew training in Australia. From January 2010, RAAF C-17 pilots will undertake their training at Amberley instead of travelling to the United States (US),” said Mr Combet.

“The attainment of the C-17 simulator is another successful outcome for the C-17 Heavy Air Lift Project and further testimony to the cooperative relationship between the Department of Defence, the United States Air Force and its contractors.”

The Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, attended the ceremony accepting the simulator at RAAF Base Amberley.

“We are very proud as locals that the C-17 simulator will provide training outcomes which greatly enhance the support to Australian Defence Force operations and humanitarian relief efforts being provided by the RAAF C-17 fleet,” said Mr Neumann.

“The Simulator is a replica of the C-17 cockpit and provides realistic training conditions for all C-17 missions. Operational conditions can be generated at a wide variety of airfields in Australia and overseas,” said Mr Combet.

The Boeing Company built the Simulator in the US and installed it in the purpose-built facility at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, constructed by John Holland Group. The Simulator itself was transported to Amberley using two C-17 aircraft.

The Simulator is the centerpiece of the C-17 Training System. The complete system includes a Maintenance Trainer to be delivered in 2010 and a Cargo Compartment Trainer to be delivered in 2013. Australia is the only foreign C-17 operator to own a Simulator. The other 20 Simulators are owned and operated by the United States Air Force.

Australian DoD

Israel wants production role in F-35

F-35 JSF. (Photo:

November 13, 2009 -- While Israel is interested in purchasing the fifth-generation stealth Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin, it will likely hinge its order on US acceptance of its demand that Israeli defense industries be allowed to participate in the aircraft's production, senior defense officials said Thursday.

On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and discussed potential Israeli involvement in the production of the JSF, also known as the F-35. In the past, Israeli aerospace companies have been integrated into the production of aircraft purchased by the IAF.

During their meeting, as well as a meeting last week between Defense Ministry director-general Pinhas Buchris and officials from Lockheed Martin, the Israeli officials stressed that they would be reluctant to purchase the aircraft immediately if Israeli companies were kept out of the deal.

Officials said, though, that if the price of the aircraft were reduced from the expected $130 million, Israel would be more willing to compromise in following through with its initial plan to purchase the aircraft in the coming months. If that happens, the JSF will begin arriving in Israel in 2014.

In the coming weeks, officials said, the Defense Ministry will receive an official letter from the Pentagon detailing the price of the aircraft and also finalizing some of the outstanding issues between the sides regarding the integration of Israeli defense suites into the plane, as well as allowing Israel to independently maintain the aircraft without needing to send it to Europe for repairs.

In July, the Defense Ministry submitted an official letter of request to the Pentagon to purchase its first squadron of 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets, but officials have said that the target date for a contract at the beginning of 2010 would likely not be met. As a result, the arrival of the aircraft - initially predicted to begin in 2014 - would likely be postponed by at least one or two years.


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