Thursday, 16 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

This list aims to catalogue visually confirmed Coalition unmanned aerial aircraft (UAV) losses during the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen launched in March 2015. This list only includes visually confirmed losses recorded. Thus, the actual number of UAVs lost in the theatre is likely significantly higher than what is recorded here (for example drones that crashed inside Saudi Arabia but whose wreckages were never photographed). As the conflict is still ongoing, the list will be updated as new downings occur.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The shock of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) must have been immense when a Chinese-made M20 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) impacted the flight line of Bahir Dar air base in northwestern Ethiopia in November 2020, during the early stages of the Tigray War. Although the targetting of Bahir Dar was bound to happen sooner rather than later after the capture of several ballistic missile systems by Tigray forces, the sheer precision with which the missile impacted still must have surprised the personnel at the base. Around the same time some 450 kilometres away, several loud blasts rocked Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, which similarly came under missile fire by Tigray forces. How Ethiopia and Eritrea ended up under fire of ballistic missiles will be the subject of this article.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

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Images from a music video released in early September this year show Tigray forces handling S-75 and S-125 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) seized from Ethiopian government forces. Although captured as early as November 2020, fairly little is known about their subsequent use by Tigray forces. Still operational at the time of capture, only the defection of enough of their operators to the Tigray side could have allowed their use against the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF). While their latest sighting did not include any of the launching systems associated with the missiles, it confirms that Tigray forces are still in control of several components of the systems.

Monday, 13 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The time when the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) almost solely relied on aging Soviet armament mixed in with some of their more modern Russian brethens is long gone. Over the past decade, Ethiopia has diversified its arms imports to include a number of other sources that presently include nations such as China, Germany, Ukraine and Belarus. Arguably more surprising is the presence of countries like Israel and the UAE in this list, which have supplied Ethiopia with a number of specialised weapon systems.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

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A video released on the 9th of September 2021 shows an Iranian loitering munition impacting a target near Choman, Erbil Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan, as part of an ongoing offensive by Iran in the region. The military offensive comes two days after Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Ground Forces, warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) against allowing groups hostile to Iran to use its territory to carry out attacks against Iran. [1] General Pakpour also threatened to attack the bases of these groups and advised civilians to stay away from their bases. Iran almost immediately made good on the threat, using artillery and loitering munitions to target these same bases just two days later. [2]

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Pakistan conducted a successful test of a newly-developed guided multiple rocket launcher (MRL) designated the Fatah-1 on the 24th of August 2021. [1] The test, which can be viewed here, follows an earlier successful test flight conducted in January 2021. Having proved its functioning and accuracy under realistic conditions, the latest firing might have been the final test before the system enters mass production and joins the ranks of the Pakistani Army.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

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By Farooq Bhai in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The presence of Chinese unmanned aerial combat vehicles (UCAVs) in the ranks of the Pakistani Armed Forces has long been the subject of speculation in the press. No ground images have ever been released that could confirm the presence of the UCAVs on Pakistani soil, further adding to the speculation. Even though Pakistan has so far managed to keep the status of its Chinese-delivered UCAVs highly elusive, a large amount of information can be found through open-source investigations. This reveals an extensive arsenal of Chinese-made UCAVs that are currently in service with the various branches of the Pakistani Armed Forces.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

A war that broke out between the Ethiopian government and its northern Tigray region has thrown the country into turmoil. Armed conflict has been raging since November 2020, killing thousands and displacing millions. The escalation came after months of tensions between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) political party. For nearly three decades, the TPLF was at the centre of power in Ethiopia after defeating the communist-socialist state that existed in Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. Tigrayan officials were able to dominate the government despite only accounting for some five per cent of the Ethiopian population. After a wave of anti-government protests from 2014 to 2016, a new government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. Abiy pressed reforms that sought to curb the power of the TPLF, much to the dismay of the Tigrayans. In response, Tigray, held its own regional elections and tensions increased to the point of open hostilities. The political crisis erupted into war when TPLF forces attacked Ethiopian Army bases in Tigray in November 2020.

Friday, 3 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The 2010s were a time of significant upheaval for the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). Within less than a decade, ageing weaponry dating from the Cold War period was progressively retired (or in some cases upgraded) and replaced by more modern equipment. While in some cases this merely replaced legacy systems, the ENDF also sought to introduce entirely new capabilities through the acquisition of large-calibre multiple rocket launchers, guided rockets and short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

Thursday, 2 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
This list aims to comprehensively catalogue the Afghan aircraft captured at Kabul International Airport (IAP) but rendered disabled by U.S. forces. United States forces stationed at Kabul during the withdrawal efforts from Afghanistan are reported to have rendered 73 aircraft and helicopters inoperable for future use. Although the full extent of damage the aircraft suffered remains unknown, it can be expected that U.S. forces damaged them sufficiently to prevent their use in the near future.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

In addition to operating a number of UAVs sourced from Israel and even Iran, at least one more country has delivered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ethiopia in recent years. This country is of course China, whose readily available and inexpensive UAVs have meanwhile conquered large parts of Africa. Interestingly, these more often than not have consisted of commercial models utilised for a wide variety of military and civilian tasks rather than types specifically designed for military service.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A war that broke out between the Ethiopian government and its northern Tigray region has thrown the country into turmoil. Armed conflict has been raging since November 2020, killing thousands and displacing millions. The escalation came after months of tensions between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) political party. For nearly three decades, the TPLF was at the centre of power in Ethiopia after defeating the communist-socialist state that existed in Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. Tigrayan officials were able to dominate the government despite only accounting for some five per cent of the Ethiopian population. After a wave of anti-government protests from 2014 to 2016, a new government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. Abiy pressed reforms that sought to curb the power of the TPLF, much to the dismay of the Tigrayans. In response, Tigray, held its own regional elections and tensions increased to the point of open hostilities. The political crisis erupted into war when TPLF forces attacked Ethiopian Army bases in Tigray in November 2020.

Monday, 30 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The profileration of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) has accelerated since the turn of the century, with many countries either already possessing armed drones or currently looking to acquire them. Much less common however is the acquisition of UCAVs by a non-state actor. Intriguingly, this is exactly what has happened in Iraq, where the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) have managed to acquire several Mohajer-6s UCAVs from Iran. Their public appearance in Iraq came several months before the delivery of Mohajer-6s to Ethiopia, which is a story we broke in early August.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans  
 
İstikbal göklerdedir. Göklerini koruyamayan uluslar, yarınlarından asla emin olamazlar  - The future is in the skies. Because nations that cannot protect their skies, can never be sure of their future. (By Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)

 
The Bayraktar Akıncı unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) introduces a number of novel capabilities to the field of unmanned aerial warfare. 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.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Images of the devastating explosions in Beirut in August 2020 shocked the world as stunning incompetence and negligence in the storage of 2.750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 207 and caused in excess of 15 billion USD in damages. Also struck was the BNS Bijoy, a Bangladesh Navy vessel stationed in Beirut during its deployment to the Mediterranean as part of the Maritime Task Force of the United Nations mission in Lebanon. Largely spared from the most extreme effects of the explosion thanks to the nearby grain elevators that absorbed much of the blast, the crew still suffered 21 wounded and the vessel had to undergo repairs in Turkey before it could safely make the journey back home. [1]

Thursday, 26 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Su-25 has earned its stripes as a rugged close air support aircraft capable of delivering a wide variety of ordnance while withstanding a significant beating from AA guns and MANPADS. From the onset designed with a limited guided weaponry capability in mind, Soviet designers would eventually expand on these capabilities through the development of the Su-25T dedicated anti-tank hunter version. Although offering a number of highly advanced features for its time, its inception during the final years of the USSR ultimately prevented the aircraft from entering into service.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Having proved itself in combat thrice over, the Bayraktar TB2 is quickly becoming an international export success. In addition to entering service with a number of countries worldwide, the Bayraktar TB2 has also been acquired by several different military branches of these nations. In Turkey, the TB2 has entered service with the Land Forces, Naval Forces, Gendarmerie General Command, General Directorate of Security (Police) and the National Intelligence Organization. This distribition ensures that each branch of the military and other state institutions can use its TB2s for the respective tasks required by them, for example to conduct surveillance in the Aegean Sea or to monitor wildfires in southern Turkey.

Monday, 23 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ethiopia recently caught headlines for its acquisition of Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Iran. Historically a close ally of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the choice for an Iranian system is remarkable to say the least, and might have been motivated more by sheer desperation for an UCAV capability to change its fortunes in the ongoing Tigray War rather than a true preference for the Iranian Mohajer-6 over contemporary UCAVs from China or Turkey.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Chinese Y-8 transport aircraft is unlikely to receive an award for the originality of its design – it being a 1970s reverse engineered variant of the Soviet An-12 with marginal changes to suit Chinese requirements. From the 1970s onwards, the Shaanxi Aircraft Factory set out to improve on the proven design, building on experiences gained with the serial production of the Y-8 but also taking advantage of foreign expertise through Lockeed Martin as well as Antonov, the original designer of the An-12. The resulting aircraft, the Y-8F-600 and Y-9, still have a clear outward resemblance to the earlier Y-8 variants but feature a stretched and redesigned fuselage, a glass cockpit and the ability to use Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines.

Friday, 20 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As new information on the delivery of Iranian Mohajer-6 UCAVs to Ethiopia continues to come to light, their deployment to the country has yet to bring about a reversal of fortunes for the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). Largely unproven and equipped with subsystems (including its FLIR camera and munitions) of inferior quality than found on contemporary UCAVs from China and Turkey, it seems unlikely the Mohajer-6 will end up as the crucial asset that could finally turn the Tigray War into Ethiopia's favour.

Monday, 16 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

 
The list only includes captured Afghan aircraft of which photographic or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of aircraft captured is undoubtedly higher than what is listed here. Not all aircraft captured in intact condition are operational at the time of capture. Thus, the number of aircraft captured by the Taliban thus doesn't translate into an operational fleet of similar size. Civilian aircraft are not included in this list.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Military analysis circles have lately been abuzz with speculation suggesting that Bulgaria is eying the acquisition of at least six Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Turkey. If this procurement goes through, it would reintroduce capabilities long lost to Bulgaria and simultaneously add to a rapidly growing list of countries interested in acquiring the TB2 or currently already in the process of doing so. Bulgaria is said to have kickstarted its attempt at purchasing TB2s in 2020, but postponed the decision because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [1] If the TB2 does eventually arrive to Bulgaria, it will be the second country (or third pending Latvia's acquisition) in the European Union to purchase the system after Poland acquired 24 TB2s in May 2021.

The Central and Eastern European interest in the Bayraktar TB2 is undoubtedly a result of its repeated successes over Libya, Syria and more recently Nagorno-Karabakh. Another obvious factor at play is the system's low initial price and operating costs, which actually for the first time makes the cost-benefit analysis of operating modern U(C)AVs a favourable one to countries like Bulgaria, with contemporary systems such as the MQ-9B Reaper simply being too expensive. The fact that the TB2 can be bought from a fellow NATO member will surely also be appreciated, providing an additional degree of security as well as a guarantee of quality that might be lacking from other providers.

It is little known that Bulgaria once operated a significant fleet of reconnaisance aircraft that at one point even included a number of MiG-25RBT 'Foxbats'. Bulgaria was the only Warsaw Pact country to operate the mighty Foxbat, the highly specialised nature of which and prohibitive operating costs were apparently enough to dissuade all other Warsaw Pact members from acquiring the aircraft. Bulgaria itself would only purchase four MiG-25s, which likely did little to improve the operations and maintenance costs per unit while they were in operational service.

Presumably for this reason, but also the drastically changed post-cold war security climate, the remaining MiG-25s were retired already within ten years of entering service and exchanged for five MiG-23MLD fighter-aircraft with Russia in 1991. Although this marked the end of 'Foxbat' operations in Bulgaria, Ukraine would continue to operate its MiG-25PD(S) interceptors and MiG-25RBTs until 1996 while Russia only retired its last MiG-25RB(T)s in November 2013, some 50 years after the type first entered service.


Two decades earlier, in November 1982, three MiG-25RBTs (serials: 731, 736 and 754) and a single MiG-25RU two-seat conversion trainer (serial: 51) arrived at Dobrich Air Base in northeastern Bulgaria. The aircraft subsequently entered service with the 26th Reconnaissance Air Regiment for photo reconnaissance and electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) duties. Tragedy struck on the 12th of April 1984 when a MiG-25RBT was lost after running out of fuel in bad weather, forcing the pilot to eject. Luckily the pilot was unharmed, and this would be the only loss of a MiG-25 in Bulgarian service. In May 1991, the three remaining aircraft roamed through Bulgarian airspace for the last time as they departed for an uncertain future in a crumbling USSR. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the aircraft were taken over by the Russian Air Force and flown from Lipetsk and later from Shatalovo, later even seeing action during the Chechen Wars. [2]

 
During the 1950s the 26th Reconnaissance Air Regiment was initially equipped with a hodgepodge of aircraft that weren't particularly well-suited to the reconnaissance role, mostly comprising bomber aircraft that were flown in their original configuration. But in the decades that followed, the unit eventually grew out to become the best-equipped aerial reconnaissance unit in the Warsaw Pact.

In the course of the 1950s, it received fourteen Il-28R (and one Il-28U trainer) aircraft, supplemented by some twelve MiG-15bisR at the start of the 1960s. Though their service in Bulgaria wouldn't be exceptionally longlasting, it bears mentioning that such aircraft have elsewhere weathered the ages and found use even in today's day and age, with North Korea still maintaining them in operational condition. [3]

The Il-28Rs and MiG-15bisRs were later supplemented and replaced by MiG-21R combat-capable reconnaissance aircraft and MiG-21MFs modified for the same role. The 1980s would see the unit's golden decade with the delivery of the MiG-25RBTs as well as Su-22M-4s. [4] [5] As the last remaining MiG-21R and MiG-21MF-R aircraft were retired from service, Dobrich Air Base closed its doors in 2002, followed by the retirement of the Su-22M-4s two years later. Since then, no dedicated reconnaissance aircraft are operated by the Bulgarian Air Force.
 

A Bulgarian MiG-25 is flanked by two MiG-21s, clearly showcasing its massive size

When equipped with multiple ejector racks (MERs), the reconnaissance-configured MiG-25RBT could be turned into a high-speed bomber armed with up to eight 500kg FAB-500Ts. There is no evidence to suggest Bulgaria ever received MERs for its MiG-25s or had any interest in deploying its aircraft as bombers in the first place however. [6] This was likely the case because of the terrible accuracy associated with using MiG-25s as bombers, which were originally supposed to deliver nuclear weapons only, so that accuracy wasn't of too great importance. 


The days of Bulgaria operating dedicated reconnaissance aircraft are long gone, with the air force struggling to maintain and eventually completely replace its other Soviet-era air assets like the MiG-29 and Su-25 with more modern Western aircraft. In this respect, a UCAV like the TB2 could present not only a valuable reconnaissance asset, but also form a cost-effective option to take over at least some the roles of the Su-25s and Mi-24s currently still in service, propelling Bulgaria into the age drone-powered warfare at a price more compatible with its current expenditures.

Whether an acquisition ultimately materialises or not, the odds that Baykar's TB2 has seen its last sale in the European Union are slim indeed. In fact, current interest in the type seems to indicate a virtual wave of exports spanning more than just the European subcontinent is at hand. At present, Bulgaria could well be among the first EU nations to ride this wave, ensuring the continuation of its rich history of operating reconnaissance aircraft.
 

[4] Bulgarian Air Defence and Air Force’s Tactical Air Units in January 1, 1983 http://www.easternorbat.com/html/bulgarian_tactical_air_force_8.html
[5] Bulgarian Air Defence and Air Force’s Tactical Air Units in January 1, 1988 http://www.easternorbat.com/html/bulgarian_tactical_air_force_81.html
 

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Friday, 13 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Much attention has been devoted to Turkey's rise to a global drone power in the past several years. While some argue that Turkish developments in this field have been highly beneficial to NATO and several individual member states in particular, others view Turkey's drone industry and profileration as a threat that should be contained through suspending exports of drone technology or even by imposing further sanctions on Turkey. The subject is frequently covered by political spectactors, which has given rise to arguments of highly politicised character on more than one occasion.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

A sudden violent outbreak of civil war in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region has thrown the nation into turmoil. After years of uneasy peace with its northern neighbour, Ethiopia suddenly finds itself at war with an unexpected foe equipped with the very same armament it stockpiled in preparation for a conventional war with Eritrea. With the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) making steady gains and government forces seemingly unable to stem the tide, the country is now frantically looking for anything to change its fortunes. In so doing, it has found support in more than one unlikely ally of opportunity. Most recently, it appears Ethiopia has managed to secure a hasty contract with Iran for the delivery of a number of Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

Monday, 9 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan has embarked on an ambitious re-equipment programme with the aim of modernising its air force through the acquisition of various types of new combat and transport aircraft. This acquisition drive has included types like the M-346 combat jet aircraft and the C-27J NG transport aircraft that have both been ordered from Italy. Another introduction that had been anticipated is the Brazilian A-29B Super Tucano turboprop light attack aircraft, which has so far been bought by more than fifteen countries around the globe. Turkmenistan was long rumoured to have been eying the acquisition of the popular attack aircraft, and one Super Tucano was even tested in the country for a short period in 2019.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Like many Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan operates an exotic fleet of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) it inherited from the Soviet Union or purchased from other nations in the past decades. The latter acquisitions manifested themselves in the sourcing of modern AFVs like the T-90S, BMP-3 and BTR-80A from Russia, and large numbers of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) from countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE and China. Other sources of AFVs include the United States, Austria and Belarus, together culminating in a highly diverse arsenal of military vehicles.

Monday, 2 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkey is currently battling a series of deadly forest fires that are raging through the southern part of the country. With high temperatures and strong winds plaguing the region, the wildfires have so far proven difficult to put under control, with new fires quickly spreading to other provinces. The relentless fires also put several tourist areas along the Mediterranean Sea under threat, leaving behind a path of destruction as the flames slowly crawled closer to the coast. The wildfires have so far resulted in the death of eight people with hundreds more evacuated as houses go up in flames and precious lifestock is lost to smoke and heat. [1]

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 
 
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.

Monday, 7 June 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
Relegated to the annals of history by the most of the world since roughly 1918, the YPG on the other hand remains an active user of so-called Sturmpanzers: uparmoured infantry support platforms that hearken back to their Second World War namesakes. Bulky and monstrous in appearance, these vehicles have begun to symbolise the YPG's resistance against Islamic State and Free Syrian Army forces that sought to dislodge the YPG from the territory it holds in Northern Syria on numerous occasions. While the presence of these DIY monstrosities in the ranks of the YPG is well-acknowledged, little attempts have been made at inventorising the types of Sturmpanzers in servicec. Thus, this article is long overdue.

Friday, 28 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 

The casual reader may be forgiven for thinking that Armenia's armed forces operate solely Soviet-legacy weaponry inherited from the USSR, or armament received from Russia in recent years. In reality, operating alongside familiar types such as the T-72 MBT, BM-21 MRL and 9K33 Osa SAM are several types of equipment acquired from more surprising sources. This includes Sako TRG-42 sniper rifles bought from Finland, Swathi artillery-locating radars acquired from India and also 273mm WM-80 multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) sourced from China.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Cuba is widely known for its former leader Fidel Castro, a surprisingly enduring devotion to communism and its world-renowned cigars, exporting the latter two to numerous countries across the globe. By contrast, its role as an exporter of arms remains much more obscure. While Cuba has begun converting and manufacturing a wide range of arms-related equipment in recent times, this industry has so far mostly been serving the needs of Cuba's own Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR). The presence of Cuban 'David' infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) in service with the Forças Armadas Angolanas is thus highly notable.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As Ukraine continues to build up its military forces to face the ever present threat of Russian interference in its Eastern regions, it has gradually managed to rejuvenate its battered inventories thanks to much increased funding. This has resulted in acquisitions such as those of Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs and Ada-class corvettes from Turkey, but also in the introduction of numerous indigenous weapon systems and upgrades for equipment already in active service. Together, these introductions have enabled Ukraine to restore the combat readiness of its embattled military to a point where capability gaps with Russia are swiftly decreasing, and actually allow it to outperform its foe in some areas.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Bayraktar TB2 has gained a formidable reputation for its role in deciding the fate of nations and enemy offensives from the skies of Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and Syria. The TB2's consistent successes are unmatched by any other type of unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) in the world, attracting considerable attention and the interest of several countries across the globe. While the acquisition of significant numbers of TB2s by Ukraine and Azerbaijan has meanwhile become widely known, it is nearly not as well-established that half a dozen examples are also operated by Qatar, which is in fact the first foreign country to have purchased the type.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Benden bu millet için bir șey istiyorsanız, en mükemmelini istemelisiniz. Madem ki bir millet tayyaresiz yaşayamaz, öyleyse bu yaşama vasıtasını başkalarının lütfundan beklememeliyiz. Ben bu uçakların fabrikasını yapmaya talibim. - If you want something from me for this nation, you should ask for the most splendid. Seeing that a nation cannot live without a plane, we shouldn't expect this means of living from the grace of others. I aspire to build the factory for these planes. (By Nuri Demirağ)
 
Turkey's ascension as a global aviation giant has in modern history been unrivalled in the scale, scope and speed of its achievements. This accomplishment is in no small part due to the country's determined endeavours towards attaining near self-sufficiency in the defence sector, in turn becoming less dependent on foreign suppliers and countries that have sanctioned Turkey on more than one occasion. Although the fruits of this policy are already in active service in most sections of the Turkish Armed Forces, arguably the most ambitious attempts at achieving self-sufficiency are the development of the Hürjet advanced jet trainer and the TF-X stealth air superiority fighter, both of which are slated to make their first test flights this decade.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
On the 6th of May 2021, protests erupted in Jerusalem over a decision to evict Palestinian residents in favour of Israeli settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem that under international law is a part of Palestine. Israeli authorities violently cracked down on the protests, injuring scores of Palestinians and bringing both camps closer to the brink of armed confrontation. As protests continued with many more wounded, Hamas issued an ultimatum under which Israel was required to pull back its forces from Jerusalem's religiously sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque by the 10th of May. Following Israel's failure to adhere to the ultimatum, Hamas then commenced rocket fire at Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip, which has been the scene of many comparable clashes in the past decades.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
The turn of the 21st century marked the start of a period of decay for Ukraine's military, with masses of military hardware facing early retirement while replacements for its surviving inventory were nowhere in sight. The 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and the war in Donbas brought about a dramatatic reversal of this policy, and factory yards previously filled with surplus tanks began to be emptied to reinforce the ranks of the battered Ukrainian military. This has so far resulted in the reactivation of hundreds of T-64, T-72 and T-80 main battle tanks (MBTs) and BMP infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
For everyone that ever landed at Istanbul Atatürk International Airport while sitting on the right hand side of the plane, the aircraft featured in header image should be an all too familar sight. Three blue and white Airbus A300s standing in a remote corner of the airport, seemingly waiting for their inevitable scrapping in the near future. Ever since landing at Atatürk Airport for the first time, I've taken an interest in the three aircraft. Why were they parked there? How long did they operate in this livery before eventually being retired?

Monday, 10 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ever since the takeover of Crimea by Russia and the outbreak of armed conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine has launched an ambitious re-equipment programme to make up for the decades of neglect of its armed forces. In addition to pulling older equipment out of storage to overhaul and upgrade them, it has also begun to introduce entirely novel capabilities to its armed forces. Notable examples include the indigenous Neptune anti-ship missile (AShM) the Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) and the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV).