Thursday, 18 February 2021

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer 
 
When the Cold War ended, and the Iron Curtain was lifted, an era commenced of which the unprecedented spread of information is perhaps its most defining characteristic. The proliferation of media (primarily through the advent of the global internet), increased transparency of nations across the world, and what amounts to the commercialisation of the arms trade have all caused a wealth of knowledge to become accessible even to those with limited resources. This has caused the area of open-source intelligence (OSINT) to bloom like never before, with a vast variety of high quality works on pretty much every imaginable topic suddenly becoming available.

Friday, 12 February 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Al-Watiya. An airbase few had ever heard of until it became a symbol in the fight of the internationally-recognised government of Libya (GNA) against Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) that seeks to overthrow it. While its capture on the 18th of May 2020 temporarily managed to put the spotlight on the severely underreported Libyan conflict, not the least because of the destruction and capture of two Russian Pantsir-S1 missile systems supplied by the UAE, the full implications of the capture of al-Watiya have gone mostly unnoticed.

More than just a local success story for the Government of National Accord, al-Watiya was a major stronghold in the LNA's offensive line around Tripoli. Tasked with protecting and supporting the Western flank of the LNA's military thrust into Tripoli, what was left of Haftar's prospects of capturing Libya's capital crumbled with the loss of this key airbase. The freeing up of GNA forces as a result of the capture and the subsequent increase in pressure on other fronts around Tripoli made the LNA's and Wagner PMC's position in this part of the country untenable, leading to a chaotic retreat from Western Libya and ending Haftar's long-held dream of capturing Tripoli and installing himself as self-proclaimed president of Libya.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of Armenia isn't particularly well known for its military industry, and its arms exports have hitherto remained undocumented. Despite being the host of a promising arms R&D scene throughout much of the 1990s, a lack of funding and orders halted further development before it ever had the chance to really take off. Although offshoots of its designs would later become popular in Chechnya and with criminals throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), this is where the exploits of Armenia's small arms industry were thought to have ended. 

Monday, 1 February 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
An article covering trains on Oryx Blog? Yes, you're not mistaken. We know what you are thinking: Where are the tanks, aircraft or ships? But actually, trains are kind of interesting or some of them at least. Take Japan's Chūō Shinkansen for example, which holds the train world speed record of 603 km/h. Or the Krajina Express, an improvised armoured train used by the Krajina Serb army during the 1990s that looked like a veritable battle fortress. Still not convinced? Then how about Gaddafi's personal Italian high-speed train that's technically still owned by Denmark?

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
If Azerbaijan starts a war, Armenian tanks will go as far as Baku. (Artsrun Hovhannisyan, Press Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Armenia, September 2020)
 
In a way surely different from what the Ministry of Defence of Armenia had envisaged, Armenian military equipment was on full display during Azerbaijan's Victory Parade on the 10th of December 2020. Marching through Baku's Freedom Square, the parade offered a glimpse of some of the equipment used by both sides during the 44-day long Nagorno-Karabakh war. 
 
While the parade segment with military trophies was sizeable, with row upon row fielding yet another type of weapon system ultimately overcome by drone warfare, the Armenian equipment on display was roughly one-tenth of the total amount of weaponry and vehicles captured by Azerbaijan. [1] In fact, even if we assume double the amount of losses confirmed to have been suffered by Azerbaijan, its military would still have captured more military equipment than it lost during the war.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Libyan Civil War has had a devastating impact on the country's civilian aviation sector, and its two giant An-124 cargo aircraft have not eluded their fair share of suffering. Libya's aviation industry came to a near standstill during the 2011 revolution, and even after the cessation of hostilities it took Libyan airline companies anywhere from months up to a year to restart their operations, while some never flew again. Those that did in doing so expressed their renewed confidence for the future, but insecurity and political turmoil in the wake of the civil war ultimately brought an end to any optimism, and soon the Libyan aviation industry was fighting for its very survival.
 
As the civil war ravaging Libya continued with no prospect of relative stability in sight, the threat of extinction loomed large over the An-124s. At a time when the single aircraft that was still present in Libya was dodging artillery fire left and right, the other An-124 was facing the possibility of being auctioned off by Ukraine in 2017 if the Libyan government failed to pay the $1.2 million it owed to Antonov for storage and routine maintenance of the aircraft since 2009 at the Antonov facility in Kiev.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
What do you acquire when you want a weapon system to deter your neighbours without plunging the region into an unnecessary arms race at the same time? That is the question the leadership of Kuwait must have asked itself somewhere in the 1970s. In 1977 Kuwait eventually found an answer to this query in the form of the Soviet 2K92 Luna-M 'FROG-7' artillery rocket system, the acquisition of which for Kuwait marked the start of a number of major arms deals concluded with Eastern Bloc countries.