Friday, 30 July 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Certainly no branch of Armenia's military suffered as severe materiel losses during the 2020 Nagorno-Karbakh War as its artillery and rocket forces. With the air defence umbrella that was supposed to protect them proving incapable of neutralising the drone threat overhead, howitzers and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) situated in open revetments were left to the mercy of Bayraktar TB2s flying overhead, resulting in the visually confirmed destruction of 152 artillery pieces and 71 MRLs. [1] Combined with the loss of a further 105 artillery pieces that were left behind by Armenian forces and subsequently captured by Azerbaijan, Armenia lost most of its artillery assets during the conflict, amounting to roughly two-thirds of its inventory of MRLs alone. [1]

Thursday, 29 July 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

North Korea's State Railway regularly flaunts its modernisation efforts by the unveiling of modernised rolling stock and revitalised train lines. In reality, billions (of dollars) will be needed to fix North Korea's crumbling rail system after decades of underinvestment and neglect. Today, most lines have speed limits that force trains to drive at just 30km/h on battered stretches of tracks and frequent power outrages bring services to a grinding halt. The situation is little better when it comes to the state of the DPRK's rolling stock, with dilapidated trains from the 1960s having become the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps most stunning is the fact that even in the 21st century, a number of 1930s-era Japanese railcars still see regular passenger service in North Korea.

The Keha class railcars are a group of diesel-powered railcars that were produced for the Chosen Government Railway (Sentetsu) from 1930 to 1942. After Japan's rule over Korea came to an end in 1945, the railcars were inherited by the Korean State Railway in North Korea and by the Korean National Railroad (nowadays known as Korea Railroad Corporation; KORAIL) in South Korea. In South Korea the Keha railcars were retired between 1957 and 1963 and subsequently scrapped. [1] Due to North Korea's reluctance to retire anything before it is properly irreparable, the North Korean railcars ironically were only at the beginning of their service lives at the time the examples in South Korea were scrapped.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 

The Bayraktar Akıncı is set to introduce a number of novel capabilities to the field of unmanned aerial warfare when it enters service with the Turkish Air Force later this year. These include several features not seen on any other type of UAV in the world before, most notably the ability to launch 250+km-ranged high-precision cruise missiles and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) at targets as far as 100 kilometres away. These capabilities in practice turn the Akıncı into the first production multi-role unmanned combat aircraft in the world, and set the stage for increasingly effective replication of legacy aerial assets by unmanned counterparts.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with COIN and Jakub Janovsky
 
The United States' controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan has left it teetering at the edge of an abyss as the country is facing a nationwide Taliban resurgence. Amidst an increasingly deteriorating security situation throughout large parts of the country, fears that Taliban forces could soon overrun the entirety of Afghanistan have become all too real, possibly reverting the situation on the ground back to that before the 2001 U.S. invasion in the long term. While the withdrawal of U.S. troops and their NATO allies has been praised by some and heavily criticised by others, there is one thing seemingly everyone can agree on: the 20-year U.S.-led mission to defeat the Taliban has been an utter failure.

Saturday, 19 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Baykar Savunma recently drew attention after a Latvian delegation headed by Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks paid an official visit to the producer of the Bayraktar TB2 and Akıncı UCAVs. With Latvia and the two other Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania continuing to build up a deterrent capacity and viable wartime capabilities against possible future Russian (military) interference in the Baltic region of Europe, interest in a low-cost unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) capability spurred on by the huge successes obtained by the TB2 over Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh is perhaps little surprising.

Monday, 14 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ukrainian-delivered armament is prevalent in the inventories of numerous militaries across the world, and the country remains a go-to source for nations that seek to revitalise their militaries on a budget. Having inherited vast numbers of surplus armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), aircraft and naval vessels, and equally important, a military industry to support this equipment with overhauls and upgrades, Ukrainian weaponry has proved especially popular with nations in Africa and Asia. For these reasons, the Ukrainian military-industrial complex has concentrated much of its efforts on catering specifically to this export market.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkey is emerging as an increasingly important actor in world politics, taking on an assertive international role and with it a growing political weight. Accompanying the country's rise as an emerging power has been a vast expansion of its fleet of VIP aircraft for use by government officials. These often majestic-looking aircraft are a symbol of status that is meant to signify Turkish power and prestige home and abroad. Undoubtedly the most imposing aircraft is the single Boeing 747-8I Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) that has been in service with the Turkish Presidential Fleet since September 2018.