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.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Caspian Sea is well known for being the world's largest inland body of water, its vast oil and gas reserves and, of course, the Caspian Sea Monster... Wait the Caspian what!? The Caspian Sea Monster! A ground-effect vehicle (known as ekranoplan in Russia) that puzzled Western intelligence agencies until even the Russians themselves came to the conclusion that while inherently cool, it in no way presented a feasible project for any military or civilian adaption.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer

A video uploaded by the National Front for Liberation shows off spectacular drone footage as fighters of the National Front for Liberation (NLF) and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fight their way to the regime-held town of Abu Dafna located to the northeast of Maarat al-Numan, Idlib Governorate, on the 19th of January 2020. The attack offers a glimpse into the attacks that government forces have been facing ever since launching the Idlib offensive in April 2019, and clearly shows some of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties involved during the battle. This video doesn't offer the whole story however, and because the early stages of this attack are documented extremely well, we will attempt to break down the footage released and paint a clearer picture of these attacks using Abu Dafna as an example.

Monday, 30 November 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Transnistria, or the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) as it is officially called, is a breakaway state situated between Moldova and Ukraine that has largely escaped the world's attention ever since its self-proclaimed independence as a Soviet republic in 1990 and subsequent violent secession from Moldova in 1992. Despite having ended armed conflict in 1992, the situation in Transnistria remains just as complicated as it was in the 1990s, with the ephemeral nation wishing to join the Russian Federation while continuing to remain heavily reliant on Moldova for exporting the limited produce its economy outputs.

Monday, 23 November 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer

The following photos were taken during a visit of a Russian journalist to a small armour repair facility in the suburbs of Damascus in June 2017. While already several years old with several of the armoured fighting vehicles pictured likely having been lost to combat damage since the images nevertheless provide an interesting insight into the inner workings of a small Syrian tank workshop.

Monday, 16 November 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Guinea-Conakry, officially the Republic of Guinea, is a French-speaking country located in West Africa. Although plagued by poor economic prospects, Guinea has a rapidly growing population of some 12.4 million that inhabit an area slightly larger than that of the United Kingdom, yet remains an underdeveloped nation. Guinea is a Muslim-majority country, with Muslims making up roughly 85% or more of the population.

Monday, 2 November 2020

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
Over time, stories detailing North Korea's arms exports to countries in the Middle East have become more and more common. Though any military link to the DPRK is hardly something nations have been likely to boast about, the actors in these stories are familiar and, in a certain sense, unsurprising. Egypt and Yemen were willing customers in the past, but Iran and Syria (and the non-state actors they support) maintain quite well documented links to the present day. Exposing the extent of these links is by no means trivial and definitely an interesting subject of its own; today however we shed light on a subject that is much less familiar.

Friday, 16 October 2020

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
The DPRK. Shrouded in mysticism and secrecy, the nation represents an absolute unicum for the military analyst. No other country in the world manages to attract so much scrutiny to its controversial antics, yet divulge so little of material importance about its inner workings. This might be at the heart of why this country specifically has gripped our attention for so many years, and drawn us to write this book about its largely mysterious armed forces. The subject is broad and an aversion towards narrowing down the scope of this project means it has run into numerous delays along the way whilst the word count steadily kept rising. Unpleasant as this may have been in the meantime, this has enabled us to write a more complete treatise of both the Korean People Army's history and its current military convolutions than we could once have hoped for. The common thread found within these pages on all matters related to the North Korean military is proudly extolled on the cover: "On the Path of Songun" it is a subtitle fitting to the subject whichever way you regard it. To the North Koreans, "Songun" is the military first doctrine introduced by Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il; a supposed masterplan aimed at preserving the nation's sovereignty. Incidently, "On the Path of Songun" is also the title of one of the DPRK's many military documentaries – a highly welcome source of information for analysts like us. Viewed from another angle however, the phrase embodies the confrontational direction that has come to characterise North Korean politics in recent decades. Plastered across headlines through ever escalating tensions and an inexhaustable string of missile launches and atomic bomb tests, the question this book aims to answer about North Korea's armed forces is implicit to this subtitle: Where did the path of Songun lead them, and where will it next?

Title: North Korea’s Armed Forces, On the path of Songun
Date of publication: September 2020
Binding: Hardcover
Paper size: A4
Pages: 235
Photos: 425 full-colour photos and 30 black-and-white photos
Artworks: 64
Maps: 5 full-colour maps

North Korea’s Armed Forces: On the path of Songun attempts to bring a measure of clarity to the often unclear and complicated state of affairs in the intelligence community of North Korea-watchers. In the process, it seeks to disprove the much-echoed stance that there is little to fear from the DPRK's conventional military capabilities by providing information on a plethora of never-before described weapons systems and modernisation programs. Nonetheless, a full accounting which includes many new findings related to its infamous strategic arsenal also features prominently, as the Korean People's Army today can no longer be properly assessed seperately from its extensive WMD capabilities.

North Korea’s Armed Forces maps the most important events from the inconclusive ceasefire struck at the end of the Korean War, throughout the Cold War until modern day. An especially heavy emphasis is placed on the current status of the Korean People's Army by examining their wealth of indigenously designed weaponry. In the course of the book not only will many of the Korean People's Army’s most secret projects and tactics will be covered, and its conflict history with the South and the world at large is put into new context. Moreover, an up-to-date, comprehensive assessment of the equipment holdings of several branches of the Korean People's Army is included, offering a numerical estimate of its naval and aerial capabilities. From the recently introduced stealth missile boats, ballistic missile submarines and main battle tank families to their often-ignored indigenous aircraft industry, virtually all indigenous weapons systems are discussed extensively.

This exclusive content is illustrated by over 75 detailed color artworks and various maps put together through exhaustive research and analysis, as well as around 450 unique images, many of which have never before been seen by the general public. Through scrutiny of satellite footage, the observation of North Korean propaganda outlets and by carefully examining information from the United States Department of Defense, the DPRK's advances in each of the Korean People's Army's respective branches are uncovered. Nearly all of the 'hermit kingdom’s' military exploits are included and an accurate picture of the North's capabilities in both symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare is provided. This book was written specifically for anyone interested in North Korea's military capabilities, or looking to find answers to the many questions raised by the minefield of contradictory statements and misinformation that make up current literature about this reclusive nation.

The Armed Forces of North Korea, On The Path Of Songun can be ordered for £45.00 at Helion or at Amazon.

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Jakub Janovsky, Dan, and COIN
 
Armed clashes which commenced early in the morning of the 27th of September 2020 over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh have so far caused considerable human and materiel losses on both sides. The renewed clashes are an extension of the three decades long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and at present the short-term implications can only be guessed at. While solid information regarding materiel losses is scarce, rumours fly wildly – and unconfirmed and false reports are readily repeated for propaganda purposes. This article will attempt to break down all confirmed material losses by carefully studying the footage made available by both warring parties.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

Novel information featured in one of our articles for NK News detail the procurement of at least six anti-submarine helicopters from Cuba, once again showing North Korea ensures its armed forces remain well equipped in an era of sanctions and economic hardship.

In aid of Juche: how Cuban anti-submarine helicopters ended up in North Korea

The DPRK attempted to rectify its rudimentary ASW capabilities by dealing with Havana in the early 2000s.

Friday, 28 February 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with Jakub Janovsky and Calibre Obscura

Turkish air and ground strikes which commenced late on the 27th of February 2020 on positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SyAA) and affiliated forces hit a large number of targets throughout Idlib and Aleppo, leading to the complete collapse of government forces along this part of the frontline and allowing rebel forces to continue their advance after recapturing the strategic town of Saraqib. Launched in retaliation after the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike, Turkey has now entered a new phase in its war in Syria, and at present the long-term implications can only be guessed at.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer

After the delivery of T-62Ms, BMP-1s, BMP-2s and at least one 2S9 to the Syrian Arab Army since early 2017, new imagery and combat footage coming out of Syria's Idlib Governorate has now revealed that more variants of these types have been sent to the country onboard Russia's 'Syria Express'.

In accordance with Russia's role in the reinstatement of the Syrian Arab Army, it is also Russia that is responsible for training and equipping the new force. Although this led some to believe that Syria would receive additional T-72Bs, T-90s or even BMP-3s, all of which would be more advanced than the current armour composition of the regime forces, the deliveries until thus far have mostly included older weaponry excess to Russian requirements.

Friday, 24 January 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer

Although many military enthusiasts spend hours scrounging local markets and shops for any interesting books on past and current military affairs to add to their evergrowing collection of books, not nearly enough know about Helion's @War series (which is divided into Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America) covering mainly post-World War II conflicts.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer

There it was, what looked to be a tram or an armoured battle wagon parked under a tree in the town of Bawiza, North of Mosul in November 2016. Abandoned by its previous owners, this behemoth previously made an appearance in the now infamous Islamic State offensive near Naweran, North of Mosul, a video which went viral due to the rather comical performance of several fighters involved in the offensive. While Abu Hajaar became the inspiration of memes across all corners of the internet, the Islamic State's usage of up-armoured trucks and other vehicles involved in this offensive was of particular interest for others.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The goal of this list is to comprehensively catalogue Iran's past and current inventory of vehicles and equipment. In an effort to streamline the list and avoid unnecessary confusion, civilian trucks towing military trailers or military trucks on which missiles, rockets or radars are based are not included in the list.