Monday, 6 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan operates a number of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designs acquired from China. Apart from the ubiquitous CH-3A, which has also been exported to Nigeria, Algeria, Myanmar and Pakistan, the Turkmenistan Air Force also acquired a unique drone design that has yet to enter service with any other country in the world: The WJ-600A/D. This unconventional unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is one of the few armed drones in the world that performs a rocket-assisted take-off (RATO), subsequently landing by parachute after completing its mission.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Yurdumuzu dünyanın en mamur ve medenî milletleri seviyesine çıkaracağız - We shall raise our country to the level of the most prosperous and civilized nations of the world. (By Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)
 
In recent years, Turkey has made great strides in modernising its infrastructure through the construction of thousands of kilometres of new roads, bridges, tunnels and high-speed rail. Turkey currently has more high-speed rail than countries like the United States, South Korea and the United Kingdom, and once it completes currently planned projects it is set to have the third largest high-speed rail network in the world. [1] [2] Ambitions hardly stop there, with the country well on track to becoming a high-speed rail superpower: as in addition to building the necessary rail infrastructure Turkey also intends to build the trains that operate on it. These exploits perfectly position the country to one day export its technologies and expertise to the rest of the world.

Friday, 3 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Though mostly operating weaponry purchased from countries like Russia, Ukraine and China, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has occassionally looked elsewhere for the acquisition of arms and equipment. This has included defence manufacturers of countries like Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, whose products have been widely introduced with the ENDF. [1] [2] One such product is the 5.56mm IWI Tavor TAR-21 bullpup assault rifle, significant numbers of which would enter service with elite units of Ethiopia's security apparatus during the late 2000s.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

It's not only Turkish drones that have found export success on the international market. Other segments of Turkey's arms industry are also subject to critical acclaim on the world stage. Sometimes this includes systems that for their less glamorous (but nonetheless highly important) roles receive little attention by international analysts, as is the case with the recent purchase of MEMATT mine-clearance vehicles by Burkina Faso and Togo. [1] [2] Other platforms receive more attention, as was recently the case with Nigeria's acquisition of two 76m offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) from Turkey's Dearsan Shipyard.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Algeria is notoriously secretive when it comes to devulging details about its arms acquisitions and current inventory of weapons systems. It is thus all the more surprising that quite a lot of information regarding the types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) purchased and operated by Algeria is publicly available. This reveals a highly diverse inventory of (armed) drones sourced from China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Africa and a number of other countries. In recent years, Algeria has also designed several types of indigenous drones. While promising, these projects have yet to spawn an operational system. Most of Algeria's UAVs are currently based at Ain Oussera air base located 200 km south of the capital Algiers.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan has accumulated a highly diverse arsenal of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) acquired from a plethora of countries worldwide. Intriguingly, many of those acquisitions appear to stem from an intention to increase ties with a particular country rather than actually fulfilling a genuine military requirement. This 'friendship through arms' policy comes at the cost of an increasingly complicated logistic system that by now has to source spare parts from more than a dozen countries for Turkmenistan's fleet of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) alone!
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The deployment of Emirati unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) on the side of the Ethiopian government has been speculated on ever since the beginning of conflict with the rebellious Tigray Region in November 2020. Nonetheless, the oft-repeated claim that several Chinese-made Wing Loong UCAVs operated out of Assab air base in Eritrea to undertake combat missions over Tigray has never been supported by evidence that points towards such a deployment. However, new information received by the authors' from an aircraft mechanic working at Harar Media air base appears to finally disclose the presence of Emirati Wing Loong Is UCAVs over Ethiopia. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Out of all of the countries reportedly interested in acquiring the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the United Kingdom is arguably the most notable. Currently operating a significant fleet of WK450 and MQ-9A Reaper U(C)AVs in service with the Army Air Corps and Royal Air Force, one might argue that another UAV system wouldn't be the first priority on the long wish list of the British Armed Forces. However, when approached from a broader perspective the acquisition of TB2s would fit in the country's recent attempts to meet the challenges of future warfare through the acquisition of flexible and more affordable armament.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

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By Thomas Nachtrab in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Many of our readers are certain to be familiar with the French tradition of adorning their armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) with the names and dates of important battles fought by the French Armed Forces. Nowadays, this tradition is mainly showcased during parades, but the markings are often retained even after the conclusion of the parade, sometimes even seen during combat deployments of the vehicles.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The commercial success of the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) seems to know no bounds, with the number of countries reportedly interested in procuring the system increasing by the month. In late October 2021, thirteen nations were reported to have purchased the TB2, an increase of three countries since August 2021. [1] The significance of this success is hard to overstate, with Baykar Tech successfully concluding more deals in three months than most other UCAV manufacturers ever hope to achieve during the entire production run of their systems.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Bayraktar TB2 is well known for its pivotal role in securing Azerbaijan's victory over Armenia during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. While no war in history was ever won by one weapon system alone, there can be no doubt that Azerbaijan's striking victory couldn't have been achieved without it. Less well known is the TB2's role in saving the internationally-recognised government in Libya (GNA) throughout 2019 and 2020, preventing a hostile takeover of the country by warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) received significant backing from the UAE, Egypt and Russia. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Satellite imagery from the 19th of October 2021 indicates that the S-125 surface-to-air missile (SAM) site located northeast of Mekelle has returned to active duty. [1] The reactivation of the SAM site comes as the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) has deployed its newly-acquired Wing Loong unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) over Mekelle to designate targets for Su-27 fighter aircraft, resulting in a number of civilian casualties as the bombs dropped by the Su-27s missed their intended targets and fell on civilian areas instead. [2] [3]

Friday, 19 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Much has been written and discussed about the quality of Chinese-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). While some argue that Chinese drones have proven cost-effective alternatives to American UAVs, others have pointed out the drones' high crash rates and reliability issues when compared to their Israeli, U.S. and Turkish counterparts. Despite these issues, Chinese UAVs remain highly popular on the market today. This is likely not the least due to the fact that there are few strings attached to Chinese arms sales, enabling countries like the United Arab Emirates to deploy its Chinese-made UCAVs over areas where it wouldn't be allowed to operate its U.S.-produced drones.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans based on data gathered by Gerjon
 
The Emirati air bridge that aims to keep the Ethiopian military stocked on weaponry and munitions shows no sign of abating. Since August 2021, more than 100 cargo flights from the United Arab Emirates to Ethiopia have been recorded by aircraft tracker Gerjon. [1] When also including Ethiopian Airlines cargo aircraft flying between Ethiopia and the UAE and additional flights from Iran, the total influx of armament to the war-ravaged country increases even further. [2] Though originating in countries that couldn't be more opposed to one another, the UAE and Iran appear to have found common middle ground in delivering arms and equipment to the embattled Ethiopian military.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Tigray Defence Forces' ambitious counter-offensive on Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa finally appears to have come to a halt. This was not in the least achieved through the extensive deployment of Chinese-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) on the side of the Ethiopian government. Types so far confirmed to have been acquired by Ethiopia include Chinese Wing Loong Is, a VTOL type of UCAV supplied by the UAE and Iranian Mohajer-6s. [1] [2] [3] Ethiopia has relied heavily on its newly-acquired UCAVs to make up for years of neglect of its air-to-ground capabilities, forcing its air force to launch a hasty procurement drive for UCAVs in the summer of 2021.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
After we first reported on the acquisition of three Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) by Ethiopia in mid-September, it took until early October before the type was first sighted in the skies over Tigray. [1] [2] While the Ethiopian military attemped to hide the acquisition of the three UCAVs by hastily moving them to a nearby hangar during their delivery to avoid their detection by prying eyes (an effort which nonetheless failed), the presence of Wing Loong Is at Harar Meda air base has now been revealed on satellite imagery as well. [1]

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Armenia and Azerbaijan on Tuesday the 16th of November 2021 clashed along their border a year after the war over Nagorno-Karabakh came to an uneasy peace, trading accusations regarding which side initiating the clashes. Armenia admitted that thirteen of its soldiers had been captured by Azerbaijan, that 18 were still missing and that six Armenian soldiers were killed in action during the latest clashes, adding that its army had also lost control of two military positions. [1] [2] [3] [4] On its part, Armenia claimed the destruction of five Azerbaijani AFVs and five vehicles. [5] According to Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, Azeri forces succeeded in taking control of a total of 41 square kilometers of Armenian territory since May 2021. [6]

Monday, 15 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Armoured warfare in Afghanistan diminished drastically after the 2001 United States invasion of the country. While past regimes and factions relied heavily on the use of armour as fire-support platforms, the U.S.-led Coalition saw little use for heavy armour by the new Afghan National Army (ANA). Plans to re-equip the only remaining armour unit of the ANA with M60A3 tanks were eventually shelved as a result, and only through sheer dedication did the ANA managed to cling on to a single tank battalion. [1]

Saturday, 13 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ethiopia's use of Su-27 fighter aircraft as bombers against targets in the Tigray Region could count on international condemnation for the numerous civilian casualties caused by the inaccurate strikes. In one instance, the dumb bombs dropped by a Su-27 missed their intended target by a kilometre away. [1] Originally designed as an interceptor and never upgraded to carry guided weaponry in Ethiopian service, the use of Su-27s (which's pilots were never trained to deploy bombs) to strike targets even as large as the Northern Command's headquarters had little chance of success to begin with.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
Relatively little is known about Armenia's weapon industry since its inception in the mid-1990s. Despite the unveiling of several promising projects in the decades since, most of its designs were destined to never leave the drawing board or progress beyond prototype status due to a lack of funding and interest from the Armenian Army. Nonetheless, a number of designs that did ultimately see the light of day serve as a reminder that such an industry survives to some degree.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

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By Thomas Nachtrab in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Malian Armed Forces used to operate large quantities of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) received from the Soviet Union. In addition to acquiring sizeable numbers of T-54B MBTs, PT-76 light tanks and BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), several more types operated in the shadows of their more numerous counterparts. One of these types is the 9P133 Malyutka, an anti-tank variant of the BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle. Instead of the original turret, the 9P133 features an elevatable launcher with six 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
This website earlier reported on the acquisition of Chinese-made Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) by Ethiopia and their subsequent sighting over Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region. [1] [2] As the Tigray War appears to be slowly spiralling out of control for the Ethiopian government, the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) has now acquired weaponry for the three Wing Loong Is it purchased in mid-September 2021. The first batch of 50 TL-2 air-to-ground missiles arrived to Ethiopia on the 3rd of November. [3] [4]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with Alper Akkurt
 
Turkey's arms industry currently offers a variety of both wheeled and tracked APC designs for sale to clients home and abroad. Many of these incorporate features such as remote weapon stations or even electric drive propulsion. Undoubtedly owing to their advanced capabilities and their proven quality, Turkish APCs have found commercial success in Georgia, Bahrain, the Philippines, Oman, the UAE and Malaysia. We previously reported on Turkey's first (truly indigenous) APC design, the Nurol Ejder 6x6 produced by Nurol Makina, which was later acquired by Georgia. While respectable in its own right, the Ejder 6x6 is actually not the first APC design to have come out of Turkey.

Friday, 5 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Less than two months after the first Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) arrived to Morroco, one example has already been sighted in the skies over the Kingdom. Morocco is notoriously secretive when it comes to the types of drones it operates and where they're being deployed, and some of its UAV types have managed to evade public attention for years while others have yet to been sighted in Moroccan service. [1] Nonetheless, with thirteen TB2s reported to have been acquired the chance of spotting one increases considerably.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) has traditionally relied on its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-23BN fighter-bombers to carry out bombing missions and to provide close air support (CAS). These rugged aircraft have seen considerable use during the Tigray War that commenced in November 2020, so far leading to the loss of two airframes in November and December 2020. [1] Although appreciated by the ETAF for their ability to carry a hefty bomb load, the less than a dozen or so remaining MiG-23BNs lack the ability to deploy modern precision-guided munitions (PGMs), severely limiting their options to accurately strike enemy targets.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Over the past decades Ukraine has garnered a questionable reputation for supplying just about any interested nation with every type of armament you could possibly imagine. Whether a country was in the market for 2500km-ranged cruise missiles (Iran), S-300 SAM systems (United States), Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers (Russia), or even a complete aircraft carrier and the blueprints to build more of them (China), Ukraine had you covered. In some cases these deals were carried out at government level and according to international law, while others were concluded in nightclubs involving bribery and a lot of alcohol. [1]

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Throughout its modern history Armenia has frequently come up with ingenious weapons designs in an attempt to provide its military with new combat capabilities at relatively little cost. One such project, a remote weapon system designed for use in trenches, has already been covered in an earlier article on this website. Another relatively little-known project entailed the design of a short-range thermobaric multiple rocket launcher (MRL) that utilises twelve RPG-7 launchers installed on a towed-trailer or truck.

Much like the remote weapon station, this contraption too was likely designed with trench warfare against Azerbaijani forces around Nagorno-Karabakh in mind. Known as the N-2, the MRL was designed and produced by the Garni-ler arms company likely somewhere during the 1990s or 2000s. [1] The launcher uses twelve TBG-7V thermobaric rockets (or its Armenian copy the TB-1), although any warhead that can be fired from a regular RPG-7 can be used in theory. The twelve rockets are fired remotely either in single shots or several rockets at a time.

Monday, 1 November 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Tigray’s missile war with Ethiopia and Eritrea was a rare instance of a non-state actor capturing short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and long-range guided rockets and subsequently using them to attack targets in Ethiopia and the capital of a different country entirely: Eritrea. [1] Despite being a notable event in modern history, the Tigray missile war nonetheless received very little attention in international media. And as quickly as the attacks occurred, the threat subsided again, with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces apparently quickly destroying or recapturing the launchers and their missiles.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The number of cargo flights between the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia has left little doubt that the UAE has taken an active role in supporting the Ethiopian military in its fight against Tigray forces in the northern parts of Ethiopia. In two months, some 70 Il-76 cargo aircraft flying out of the UAE landed in Ethiopia. [1] [2] While some of the large cargo aircraft appear to have landed at Addis Ababa international airport, in most other cases they landed at Harar Meda air base, undoubtedly to unload their military cargo away from prying eyes and cameras.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Some nations eagerly show off their drone arsenal in an effort to display their military might to the rest of the world, other countries are less keen on revealing their inventory and operations of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). One such country is Morocco, which currently operates a sizeable fleet of Israeli, Chinese and Turkish UAVs and UCAVs. [1] Nonetheless, very little is known regarding their actual operations, with Morocco appearing intend on keeping UAV operations the armed forces' best-kept secret.

Friday, 29 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A number of attacks on Turkish patrols in northern Syria have brought Turkey and YPG forces to the brink of war. In response to the latest attack, which saw the death of one Turkish soldier, President Erdogan vowed to clear northern Syria from the YPG. [1] In order to achieve this, YPG (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – People's Protection Units, itself the primary faction in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance) forces would either have to leave the border region voluntarily or take up arms and fight the Free Syrian Army and Turkish military. In the latter case, the YPG's armour is undoubtedly set to play a role as the faction's primary fire-support platforms. This article attempts to catalogue the YPG's fleet of AFVs and other heavy weaponry and explain how its armoured force came to be.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A video uploaded on the 26th of October 2021 depicts a meanwhile all too familiar sight for those following armed conflicts: A Bayraktar TB2 striking an unsuspecting foe on the ground. [1] The difference to past drone strikes carried out by the TB2 is that this one took place in Eastern Ukraine, the first strike to have occurred here since the delivery of TB2s to Ukraine in 2019. Less novel was the target of the drone strike: A 122mm D-30 howitzer operated by separatist forces. The successful destruction of the howitzer marked the 56th D-30 to have been destroyed by TB2s over Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and now Ukraine. [2]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

 
Some two weeks after this website first reported on the acquisition of Chinese-made Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) by Ethiopia, videographic evidence has now finally emerged that confirms the drone's presence in the skies of Ethiopia. [1] The video, taken in late October 2021, depicts a single Wing Loong I over the capital of the Tigray Region, Mekelle. [2] The Wing Loong I is the third UCAV type confirmed to have been acquired by Ethiopia after the country earlier purchased Iranian Mohajer-6 and Emirati VTOL unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

Friday, 22 October 2021

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By Thomas Nachtrab in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The goal of this list is to comprehensively catalogue Mali's current and past inventory of (armoured fighting) vehicles and heavy weaponry. Historically a major recipient of Soviet military aid, frequent arms deliveries in the 1970s and 1980s turned Mali into one of the strongest militaries in western Africa, operating advanced equipment such as dedicated tank destroyers, S-125 SAM systems and MiG-21bis jet fighters. The 1990s and 2000s saw the Malian Army retiring much of this equipment amid a changed security situation and resulting decrease in its defence expenditure.
 
Like most other African militaries, the Malian Army's combat effectiveness in the late 2000s and early 2010s was extremely low, a fact that prevented it from dealing with the 2012 Tuareg insurgency and the subsequent rise of Al-Qaeda, ultimately forcing France to intervene to prevent a hostile takeover of Mali and throwing the rest of the region into turmoil. In the years since, the Malian military has been rebuild with the help of the European Union (EU), with Soviet heavy weaponry making place for modern MRAPs and infantry mobility vehicles. 

Nonetheless, Mali continues to operate equipment like the T-54 and PT-76, albeit in much small numbers than before. Interestingly, the Malian Army appears to have returned several other Soviet-era AFVs back to operational condition in recent years, although these appear to spend most of their time collecting dust in barracks with little training being undertaken as they are of little use in fighting the ongoing insurgency. Nonetheless, the ultimate result is an exotic inventory of equipment that could surprise many seasoned analyst for its sheer diversity.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
In an effort to turn the tide in the ongoing Tigray War, Ethiopia has invested heavily in the acquisition of unmanned (combat) aerial vehicles from a number of countries around the world. After years of disregard of modern developments worldwide, the Ethiopian Air Force found itself caught in a conflict with no aircraft that could deploy precision-guided munitions (save for one Su-25TK), allowing Tigray forces to freely roam the battlefield and operate the large quantities of heavy weaponry it managed to capture from government forces. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
''Listen son – you're all great and well-educated kids, but accept the fact that foreign producers are at a level unreachable.'' (Address to Selçuk and Haluk Bayraktar by a bureaucrat at the Presidency of Defense Industries, mid-2000s) [1]

Whenever the future of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is discussed, the ability to engage and shoot down other aircraft is frequently mentioned as a development that could one day make conventional fighter aircraft obsolete. Nonetheless, actual progress towards achieving such a future has been painstakingly slow. In popular discourse, capabilities of combat UAVs are frequently thought to be way ahead of their real-world abilities, with even a global armament powerhouse such as Russia still struggling to produce its own fleet of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), let alone turning these systems into agile unmanned dogfighters in the near future.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Tensions have increased between Iran and Azerbaijan over road tax imposed on Iranian truck drivers that want to enter Armenia through Azerbaijan, over Azerbaijani ties to Israel and plans for a corridor linking Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan exclave with mainland Azerbaijan. The latter's occurence could see Tehran lose its connection to Armenia altogether, hindering its access to the regional market. While current tensions between Tehran and Baku have so far been confined to diplomatic tensions and military exercises along their respective borders, some fear that mounting tensions between the two countries could one day escalate into an all-out regional conflict.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
On display alongside a host of well-known UAV designs at Teknofest 2021 there was a UAV that looks as intriguing as it does unconventional. The object that combined these two feats is the Alpkuş, a small UAV that was designed by Turkish engineer Alper Sarısan. The Alpkuş originally started its life as a simple copy of the Colomban Cri-Cri homebuilt recreational aircraft, which has the curious distinction of being the smallest twin-engined manned aircraft in the world. Somewhere during the past several years, Alper Sarısan converted his Cri-Cri for unmanned operations, adding it to a growing list of UAV designs to come from the country.

Friday, 15 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Ethiopia's last acquisition of (unmanned) aircraft before the commencement of the Tigray War in November 2020 are not the Wing Loong IIs UCAVs the country is so often reported to have deployed during the early stages of the conflict. Instead, the last (unmanned) aircraft it acquired was a single German Trinity F9 eVTOL UAV received as a gift from the German government in October 2020. [1] Although supposed to be the first of three drones that were to be donated to Ethiopia's Ministry of Agriculture to help it in areas of natural resources protection, only one F9 was delivered before the German Development Cooperation was halted from supplying the other two drones after the the Tigray War broke out in November 2020 [2]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 

Morocco's use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been a subject shrouded in secrecy since the country first acquired drones in the late 1980s. Although this secrecy surrounds nearly all of its defence acquisitions, Morocco has taken extra care to reveal as little as possible with regards to what UAV types it purchased and where they're being deployed. But in a time when most people own camera phones and satellite imagery is readily available, an increasing amount of information about Morroco's drone operations is slowly becoming available.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Haykırdı ak tolgalı beylerbeyi "İlerle!" - When the white clad bannerlord roared ''Forth cavalcade!'' (Akıncılar, by Yahya Kemal Beyatlı)
 
It has been surprisingly long since the introduction of a new type of unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) heralded the inception of entirely new capabilities in the field of drone warfare. While some types of UCAVs have introduced an increased payload capacity, an improved sensor suite or an increased endurance over their predecessors, there has been little innovation in armament types cleared for use by UCAVs in recent years. This all changed with the introduction of the Bayraktar Akıncı, which boasts a number of features not seen on any other type of UCAV produced anywhere before.

Monday, 11 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
After the acquisition of Iranian and Emirati unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) by Ethiopia, there now is strong reason to suggest that a third type of UCAV has joined the conflict: The Chinese-made Wing Loong I. Information received by the authors' combined with a suspicious cargo flight to Harar Meda air base in Ethiopia from Chengdu, China, where the Wing Loong I is manufactured, point towards the delivery of at least three of such systems to Ethiopia in September 2021. The news comes a week after the confirmed use of UAE-supplied UCAVs with the Ethiopian military in the contested Tigray Region. [1]

Friday, 8 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans based on data gathered by Gerjon 
 
Amidst an increasingly deterorating security situation throughout large parts of northern Ethiopia, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has embarked on an international shopping spree in an effort to acquire new weapon systems that could help it to halt the seemingly unstoppable advances of Tigray forces. As part of its efforts, Ethiopia has sought to acquire arms from countries like the UAE and Iran. Recent data collected by aircraft tracker Gerjon reveals the scale of the air bridge maintained by these countries to keep the ENDF supplied with all the weaponry and equipment it needs. [1]

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Having entered service with at least seven countries worldwide, several more nations are currently thought to be negotiating with Turkey for the acquisition of Bayraktar TB2s. [1] One of these nations is reported to be Pakistan, which currently operates a fleet of Chinese unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) backed up by a locally-produced drone known as the Burraq. [2] In addition to these types, Pakistan is currently also developing several more indigenous UCAVs. At least one of these aims to incorporate Turkish technology through a cooperation with Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI), the designer of the TAI Anka U(C)AV. [3]

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The deployment of Emirati unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) on behalf of the Ethiopian government has been speculated on ever since the beginning of hostilities with the rebellious Tigray Region in November 2020. The oft-repeated claims that several Chinese-made Wing Loong UCAVs operate out of Assab air base in Eritrea to undertake combat missions over Tigray have never been supported by evidence that points towards such a deployment either in 2020 or now. However, almost one year into the conflict evidence that shows UAE-combat drones have indeed been delivered to Ethiopia to help it in its fight against the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) has now finally emerged. [1]

Monday, 4 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The continued delivery of arms and equipment to the war-thorn country of Ethiopia remains largely unreported on, and its impact on the situation on the ground is at the moment largely unknown. What is known however is that the constant attrition of Ethiopia's military arsenal has led the country to scrounge the planet for anyone willing to supply it with additional weaponry, which has even included Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Iran. These UCAVs now operate alongside Israeli and Chinese designs, showing just how complicated the modern day network of foreign arms suppliers has become.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A military parade was held in Ashgabat on September 27, 2021 in celebration of Turkmenistan's 30th anniversary of independence. Rows of Western, Russian and Chinese weapon systems were paraded, once again highlighting the serious investments the country has made into its military over the past decade. Nonetheless, it was relatively conservative in terms of the display of major new systems except for the debut of the newly-acquired Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) and Israeli Sky Striker loitering munition. Also showcased during the naval section of the parade was the Deniz Han, the Turkmenistan Navy's new corvette and currently the most powerful warship in the Caspian Sea. The parade can be watched in its entirety here.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Syrian Arab Army's Armoured Divisions are well known for operating several types of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles upgraded with additional armour. Having performed these armour upgrades on a range of armoured fighting and support vehicles, one of the Armoured Divisions (1st AD) expanded its arsenal once more in 2016 by introducing a new type of multiple rocket launcher (MRL), popularly known as 'Shams', meaning Sun in Arabic. It's thought its nickname was derived from that of the aesthetically similar Russian TOS-1A 'Solntsepyok, which has been referred to as 'Sun' during its deployment by the Russian military in Syria.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Amidst the smoldering wreckages of destroyed surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems littering the battlefields of Nagorno-Karabakh there was one notable absentee that appeared to have escaped certain destruction at the hands of drones during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War: The Buk-M1-2. Indeed, although it constitutes one of the most modern and capable SAM systems in the inventory of the Armenian Armed Forces, the Buk-M1-2 (NATO designation: SA-11 'Gadfly') SAM system appears to have played no role during the fierce 44-day conflict whatsoever.

Monday, 27 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with Jakub Janovsky, Dan, and COIN
 
Şimşek gibi atıldık bir semte yedi koldan - Like thunderbolts we struck from seven directions (Akıncılar, by Yahya Kemal Beyatlı)
 
A year has passed since the vicious conflict now known as the Forty-Four Day War was brought to its conclusion. The result of this Caucasian engagement was a stunning upset of the status quo, marking a watershed moment in the history of warfare that has rightfully garnered the attention of analysts and history buffs worldwide. In the course of this short but intense conflict, a handful of Azerbaijani Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs essentially broke the back of the Armenian military, destroying a confirmed total of 549 ground targets including 126 armoured fighting vehicles (including 90 T-72 tanks), 147 artillery pieces, 60 multiple rocket launchers, 22 surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, six radar systems and 186 vehicles. While a combination of factors was ultimately responsible for the Azerbijani military's overwhelming success, there is no denying the centerpiece of its campaign was this one piece of newly acquired technology.