Friday, 31 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan is on the largest aircraft-buying spree in the history of the country. This has so far seen the acquisition of M-346 and A-29B combat aircraft, C-27J NG transport aircraft and Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs for the Turkmen Air Force, and a fourth Boeing 777-200LR airliner and two Airbus A330-200P2F cargo aircraft for Turkmenistan Airlines. [1] [2] Also acquired are a single Kazan Ansat and one Mi-17-1V helicopter to provide emergency ambulance services throughout the country. [3] The helicopters were delivered in April and May 2021, entering service with Turkmenistan Airlines, which operates the helicopters on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry. [4] 

Thursday, 30 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans based on data gathered by Gerjon
 
In November 2021 the United Arab Emirates deployed at least six Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Harar Meda air base in Ethiopia to help the embattled Ethiopian government in its fight against Tigray forces. [1] The deployment was the first confirmation that Emirati armed drones had begun operating over Ethiopia after rumours concerning their use over Ethiopia first surfaced in November 2020. [2] New data now suggests that the UCAVs are not the first aircraft to have been deployed to Ethiopia by the UAE during the Tigray War.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
These days Turkish-designed naval vessels ships operate with navies all around the globe as Turkey is rapidly on the way towards attaining near self-sufficiency in the naval sector. As part of this ambitious strive, Turkish shipyards have an ever expanding portfolio of naval ships on offer. When in 2013 Turkey launched a tender for a new class of fast attack craft (FAC) to replace the ones currently in Turkish Navy service, it could make a selection out of close to 30 domestic designs, showing that the scope of the country's naval design craze can hardly be overstated. [1] [2]

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
  
That Turkish-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and Israeli-designed loitering munitions enabled Azerbaijan its striking victory during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War is well established. Less well known is that in addition to Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs and Israeli-designed loitering munitions, Azerbaijan operates a large fleet of Israeli-made surveillance UAVs that by the virtue of their capabilities rank amongst the most advanced in the world. The synergy between this extensive arsenal of UAVs, loitering munitions and UCAVs has meanwhile propelled Azerbaijan to the world's top in terms of unmanned aerial capabilities.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ukraine's acquisition and subsequent use of the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 has been a cause of significant concern for separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine, and for Russia, which has provided the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) with extensive military support. Although separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine operate significant numbers of anti-aircraft (AA) guns and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems supplied by Russia, including the 9K33 Osa-AKM (NATO designation: SA-8) and the 9K35 Strela-10 (SA-13), these lack the range to target UCAVs like the Bayraktar TB2 flying overhead at some 5000 metres.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Egypt has a long tradition of acquiring military equipment from a multitude of sources rather than solely relying on one country in case it's suddenly to be sanctioned, potentially cutting off its military from spare parts and munitions. The Egyptian Air Force currently operates jet aircraft sourced from Russia, France, Czechia, the U.S. and China, and the situation is little different within the other branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Although greatly complicating the inventory of spare parts and weaponry, this situation ensures that Egypt is never without a source of armament.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans based on data gathered by Gerjon 
 
Even as Emirati cargo flights carrying arms and equipment to Ethiopia appear to have come to a halt (but not before delivering six Wing Loong I armed drones), Iranian flights believed to be carrying the same type of cargo continue to reach Ethiopia. [1] [2] In the past month, five Boeing 747-200FSCD cargo aircraft belonging to the Fars Air Qeshm have landed at Addis Ababa Bole Airport. The exact contents of the Boeing 747s can currently only be guessed at, yet it doesn't seem implausible that their flights are related to the deployment of two Iranian Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Semera airport since August 2021. [3] [4]

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Indonesian National Armed Forces are responsible for patrolling an archipelago of 17,000 islands that extend 5,150 kilometers from east to west. For this purpose, it operates a large number of patrol craft and maritime patrol aircraft to keep tabs on illegal entries and activities occurring within its territorial waters. Nonetheless, the sheer size of the archipelago, not to mention the land mass of the islands as well, makes it difficult to monitor. One other way this can be effectively achieved is through the deployment of large numbers of medium-altitude long-endurance MALE UAVs.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
In the 2010s, Armenia embarked on an expansive modernisation programme of its air defences to keep up with Azerbaijan's expanding drone arsenal and to address the obsolescence of its existing surface-to-air missile (SAM) and radar systems. Although acquisitions like the Tor-M2KM and Buk-M1-2, and Russian jamming equipment such as the Repellent-1 and Avtobaza-M would attract the most attention, overhauls and upgrades performed to its older systems occurred as well. This included SAM systems like the 2K11 Krug, 2K12 Kub and the S-125, all of which dated from the 1960s.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
In late October 2021 it was announced that Kyrgyzstan had placed an order for three Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Baykar Tech. [1] The news of the deal came as a surprise not only because Kyrgyzstan was previously not believed to have a requirement for UCAVs, but also because Kyrgyzstan possesses little in the way of an air force in the first place. In fact, the Kyrgyz Air Force only began to operationally deploy fixed-wing aircraft in 2018, and that because the two An-26 transport aircraft in question were donated by Russia. [2] On the 18th of December 2021 the much-anticipated TB2s entered service with the Kyrgyz State Border Guard Service. [3] The TB2s are the first aerial assets known to have entered service with the State Border Guard.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkey has made a shift from being partially dependant on donations of military equipment in the 1970s and 1980s to being the party that donates in the 2010s and 2020s, gifting military equipment to allied countries around the globe. Although Turkey began donating military equipment to neighbouring countries as early as the late 1990s, this policy truly set off in the 2010s as Turkey began to increase its worldwide influence. This has not only included the donation of military equipment, with ambulances, buses and other items finding their way to nations across the world as well.

Friday, 17 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Azerbaijani Navy is lagging behind in modern developments compared to the rest of the country's military and other nations' navies in the Caspian Sea. Instead, Azerbaijan has diverted considerable funds to modernising its Coast Guard, acquiring six Israeli Sa'ar 62 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and six Shaldag Mk V patrol boats fitted with Spike NLOS (25km range) and Spike-ER (8km range) anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) for its State Border Service. [1] Interestingly, the Azerbaijani Navy does not use anti-ship missiles (AShMs) aboard any of its vessels, operating purely as a patrol force in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Thursday, 16 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with Jakub Janovsky, Dan, and COIN
 
Bin atlı o gün dev gibi bir orduyu yendik! - A thousand cavaliers, we beat a giant army that day! (Akıncılar, by Yahya Kemal Beyatlı)

The Bayraktar TB2 has changed the notion of how modern-day conflicts are being fought that, now that it has been tried and tested in at least three separate conflicts, cannot be reverted. The fact that a relatively light and inexpensive drone could not only evade but actively search out and destroy modern surface-to-air missile (SAM) and electronic warfare (EW) systems while suffering little losses in return has rightfully garnered worldwide attention. The result of the TB2's entry into combat was a stunning upset of the status quo, forcing many countries to rethink their approach to defence.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkmenistan is a major purchaser of Italian goods, armament and (notably) marble. Its capital Ashgabat has been recognised by Guinness World Records as having the world's highest density of buildings made from white marble, earning it the nickname of 'white city'. [1] The country's affection for anything Italian is carried over in the inventory of the Turkmen Armed Forces, with anything from combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and anti-ship missiles having been purchased from Italy in recent years. [2] [3] The Italian ARX-160 is also the armed forces' standard issue service rifle, and this year's independence parade showed that arms purchases from Italy are still very much ongoing. [4]

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A number of Moroccan drone strikes on Polisario targets in the Western Sahara has once again brought attention to the long-neglected eponymous dispute. Fears that the fragile peace could soon make way for renewed conflict seem to grow starker by the month, with a lack of any hard response to the drone strikes from the Polisario Front possibly strengthening Morocco's will to use military means to resolve the conflict in its favour once and for all. [1] Although only the United States recognises Morocco's claim over the Western Sahara Region, the Polisario is isolated from any true political and military allies with the exception of Algeria.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
In early June 2020, forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) captured the strategically important city of Tarhuna, marking the official end of the Libyan National Army's (LNA) 14-month long offensive that aimed to capture Tripoli. [1] In the process of sifting through the spoils of war littered about the city, the GNA encountered a number of MRLs that were at the time completely unknown. Tarhuna had acted as a giant supply depot for LNA forces in Western Libya, and since the LNA received significant military support from the UAE, a link was easily established. [2]

Monday, 13 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
After we earlier reported on the deployment of at least six Emirati Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Ethiopia, satellite imagery now indicates that additional infrastructure for the operations of UCAVs is being constructed at Harar Meda air base. [1] [2] New tarmac and hangars are being erected next to the hangar from where Ethiopia's own fleet of three Wing Loong I UCAVs acquired from China in September 2021 are currently operating from. [3] One of these Wing Loong Is was already sighted on satellite imagery of Harar Meda in mid-November. [4]

Thursday, 9 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A report by Al Jazeera from Kabul International Airport (IAP) shows that the new Afghan Air Force is currently working on introducing a fast jet capability to its air force. [1] The footage shows an L-39 undergoing an engine test after languishing in storage at Kabul IAP since the early 2010s. [2] Even though the United States saw little use in the operation of Mi-24 attack helicopters and L-39C jet trainers by the Afghan Air Force, both types were maintainted in operational condition, even though the L-39s are not believed to have flown in the past several years.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The future prospects of business with Turkmenistan must have looked promising for Russian arms manufacturers in the late 2000s, with a steady stream of orders for armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), helicopters and naval ships pouring in. However, after initially mostly relying on Russia to modernise its armed forces, orders for more Russian armament from Turkmenistan quickly began to dry up. Instead, Turkmenistan diversified its arms acquisitions to include a myriad of other nations' arms suppliers, at the cost of arms manufacturers in Russia and Ukraine.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Certainly, no equipment of the mechanised forces is as unappreciated as armoured recovery vehicles. Generally operating in the rear of an advance and only seen when something went terribly wrong, they are nonetheless vital for any mechanised campaign to succeed in its aims. This is reflected in the inventories of most modern militaries worldwide, which nowadays often include sizeable numbers of ARVs and other armoured supporting vehicles. Owing to their importance in the field, the concept of the ARV has continuously evolved to keep up with new challenges and security threats.

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 en medeni memleketleri 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.
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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.

Friday, 3 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.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

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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.
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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!

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

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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.