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.