Opening of the Manama Air Power Symposium 2016
Manama- Under the prestigious patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and with the support of the Royal Bahraini Air Force and Ministry of Telecommunications and Transportation, Specialized Events and General Marketing Activities (SEGMA) held the Manama Air Power Symposium (MAPS) on January 20th, 2016 at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa Hotel. The conference drew high level delegations from Bahrain and countries around the world including Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the UK, US, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and Egypt amongst others.
The opening session was commenced by Mr. Riad Kahwaji, CEO of SEGMA, who began his welcome speech by thanking the Bahraini Air Force for their notable support. He also gave a warm welcome to Bahraini officials, international delegations, sponsors, and industry representatives for taking part in the conference. He also discussed the evolving role of the Air Force especially in the GCC in combatting asymmetric threats in today’s environment.
H.E. Lieutenant General Yusuf bin Ahmed bin Hussain Al Jalahma, Minister of Defense Affairs , representing His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa delivered a keynote address and spoke about the role of air power in conventional terms as well as against asymmetric threats. He emphasized on the need for allies to come together to overcome threats and challenges for the future. He paid tribute to Bahraini and Arab troops who have sacrificed lives in Yemen for the sake of national pride and integrity.
The opening session was concluded by Major General Shaikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Khalifah, Commander, Royal Bahraini Air Force who thanked the audience for attending the symposium and spoke about developments in the Bahraini Air Force, which is currently participating in the Saudi-led mission to achieve stability in Yemen.
The first session was moderated by Air Chief Marshal (Ret.) Sir Glenn Torpy, Former Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Air Force, UK and Senior Military Adviser, BAE System. The first speaker, Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown Jr, Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Southwest Asia presented the topic on “Close Air Support for Asymmetric Warfare Environments.” He stressed on the importance of flexibility, agility, and innovation for the Air Force for emerging threats. He mentioned that the center of gravity for Daesh is different to conventional forces, but they are losing ground to the coalition which is using innovation and technology to defeat Daesh and win local support in doing so. He explained that remotely piloted aircraft – especially for intelligence-gathering – and precision strike weapons are, and will continue to be, crucial tools for air forces to support ground forces in defeating asymmetric threats. In this regard he said the U.S. continues to work with international partners to develop collective capabilities, and regional air forces have been demonstrating impressive development.
The second speaker Colonel (Pilot) Rashid Buallay, Commander, 5th Squadron Aviation Training, Royal Bahraini Air Force briefed the audience about how land-based air forces can play an important role in projecting air power in narrow, enclosed or semi-enclosed maritime areas in combined air-sea operations. Through harnessing doctrine, training, and C4I2SR, and with suitably positioned air bases, air power can be employed flexibly and effectively in the maritime domain in support of a range of defensive and even targeting operations. He stated that enhancing air/naval force interoperability through operational integration and joint training is the decisive factor that needs to be addressed with a strategic approach.
General (Ret.) Gary North, Vice President for Customer Requirements, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics chaired this session that featured two speakers. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force held a discussion on “PAF’s Leading Role in Ongoing Counter Terrorism Operations – Successes and Future Challenges”. He stated that the biggest challenge for Air leaders and commanders is to make sure that forces are ready to take on non-conventional challenges. In joint operations with ground forces supporting the Zarb-E-Azb counter-terrorism campaign, the PAF have managed to minimize collateral damage as terrorist networks are dismantled. Capacity-building efforts over the years have allowed Pakistan to harness advanced targeting munitions, enhance air mobility, secure more persistent ISR coverage, enable day/night operations with night vision, and combine counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) capabilities with improved base security for its deployed warfighters to achieve meet key objectives. The PAF has played a key role in destroying huge weapons caches and their command and control network and pushing terrorists into what now very small pockets where they are currently being targeted.
Staff Major General (Pilot) Abdullah Al Foudary, Commander, Kuwait Air Force presented on “The Kuwaiti Air Force and Current Regional Challenges” and emphasized three main points – the development of the Kuwaiti Air Force, preparing for future challenges, and what needs to be done to strengthen air force functions. Kuwait faces challenges including critical infrastructure protection, defeating airborne and ground threats, and maritime piracy. He stressed that Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JISR) is the vital tool for all successfully achieving military objectives.
The last session was moderated by Lieutenant General (Ret.) George Trautman, Former Deputy Commandant for Aviation, United States Marine Corps and featured three speakers. The first speaker, Brigadier General (Pilot) Ghassan Chahine, Commander-in-Chief, Lebanese Air Force presented on the topic, “Utilizing Helicopters in Counter Terrorism Operations – The Lebanese Air Force Experience”. He provided an overview of the history of the Lebanese Air Force and the aquisition of the Gazelle rotary-wing aircraft from the UAE as well as the operation in Nahr Al Bared. With Daesh now infiltrating from Syria into Lebanon and having attacked army posts, Lebabon is employing the Puma and Gazelle rotary-wing aircraft in night raids. He stressed on the importance of increasing night vision capabilities to counter asymmetric threats.
Air Vice Marshal Gary Martin Waterfall, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group, Air Command, Royal Air Force, United Kingdom delivered a briefing on “Advanced Combat Training for Modern Jetfighters”. He emphasized synthetic training and its importance to the Royal Air Force, stating that the Typhoon Future Synthetic Trg (TFST) between 2019 and 2040 will meet training needs holistically and cost-effectively. He also discussed the Lightning Programme (2018-2048) and the paradigm shift he anticipates in exploiting synthetics for producing future jetfighters.
The concluding presentation was provided by Brigadier General Yousef Al Hnaity, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Air Defense, Royal Jordanian Air Force, who spoke on “Improving Search and Rescue Operations in Hostile Environments”. He mentioned CSAR tactics including Command and Control in a Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR) System and the role of integrated preparation, planning and execution. Coalition CSAR lessons learned were also discussed, such as training with adapted TTPs and ensuring that C2 is reactive and effective.
MAPS 2016 sponsors included: Platinum Sponsor: BAE Systems; Gold Sponsors: Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin; and Silver Sponsor: General Electric.
MAPS 2016 media partners included: Official Media Partner: Nation Shield; Arabic e-Media Partner: Security and Defense Arabia; and Media Partners: Al Defaiya, Defence 21, Arabian Aerospace, Aeromag, Security and Defense Arabia, and Al Jundi Journal.
The conference concluded with enormous success.