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.