Thursday, 23 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
It's no surprise that Istanbul is at the top of so many people's travel lists. From historical sights to atmospheric cafés and restaurants, there's something for all tastes and budgets. As they are more likely to visit an abundance of centrally-located tourist attractions, most visitors are unlikely to learn about two facets plaguing everyday life for İstanbullular: the city's traffic congestion and lack of green spaces. Istanbul is the city with the least amount of green space in Europe, amounting to just 2.2% of its total area (compared to 40% in Helsinki). [1] [2] In fact, only Middle Eastern cities like Baghdad, Cairo, Dubai and Riyadh have less green space. [3]

Friday, 17 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Amid the delivery of more than 230 T-72 MBTs from Poland, 126 M777 howitzers from the U.S. and Harpoon anti-ship missiles (AShMs) from the Netherlands, it is easy to overlook smaller equipment donations to Ukraine even though many more countries have contributed in their own respective ways. [1] One of these nations is Lithuania, which in addition to supplying Ukraine with military equipment from its own stocks, has also been the scene of several remarkable crowdfunding campaigns such as those launched by local journalist and TV anchor Andrius Tapinas.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of Lithuania managed to grab headlines with its successful crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Almost 6 million euro was raised in just three and a half days mostly by Lithuania – a country of only 2.8 million people. During a visit to Baykar to discuss the delivery of the TB2 (which Baykar decide to donate free of charge) in June, Lithuania's Deputy Defence Minister Vilius Semeška revealed that the acquisition of six TB2s for the Lithuanian Air Force had also been discussed. [1]

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As much of Western Europe appears to have finally woken up to the necessity of concrete military power for security, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania already realised the requirement to prepare themselves to deal with Russian aggression in the Baltic region since Russia's annexation of Crimea in early 2014. Correspondingly, each country has since drastically expanded the size and readiness of its armed forces. Whilst initially mostly purchasing small arms, ATGMs and MANPADS to equip active and reserve forces, further investments have meanwhile paved the way for the acquisition of air defence and anti-ship missile systems, long-range artillery and hundreds of AFVs.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Transnistria, officially known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), has churned out a number of highly interesting armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) designs over the past decade. Unable to replace its dated inventory of Soviet weaponry ever since proclaiming independence in the early 1990s, the country has instead sought to supplement its vehicle park with a number of homegrown vehicle designs. Many of these are based on already existing AFVs, which are then modified to suit an entirely new role. Arguably the best examples of this are the MT-LB SPAAG and the BTRG-127 'Bumblebee' APC, the latter of which originally started its career as the GMZ-3 minelayer vehicle. [1]

Friday, 10 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. (By Desmond Tutu)

Western countries have scrambled to provide the Ukrainian military with an expansive arsenal of military hardware and ammunition to help it fend off an onslaught of Russian offensives throughout Ukraine. Many of these weapon systems are relatively easy to use and readily available from Western stocks, while others are of greater complexity, in some cases requiring weeks of training for Ukrainian servicemen to master their new mounts. This includes types such as the PzH 2000 self-propelled gun (SPG) delivered by the Netherlands and Germany, as well as M270 and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) donated by the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. [1] [2]

Thursday, 9 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Türkiye's Navy is set to dominate the depths of the Aegan Sea and beyond through the introduction of six locally-assembled Type-214TN Reis class submarines featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP) throughout the 2020s. [1] Their entry into service is to be followed by the design and production of the MILDEN class of submarines, a fully indigenous type of hunter-killer submarine that will be armed with indigenous 533mm AKYA heavyweight torpedoes, 220+km ranged Atmaca anti-ship missiles (AShMs) and 1000+km ranged Gezgin land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs).

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Russia's anti-aircraft artillery forces are perhaps best known for operating large numbers of vicious-looking 2K22 Tunguska and Pantsir-S1 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAGs). Limited numbers of ZSU-23 Shilkas continue to see service as well, with at least four of them lost during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [1] Newer fighting vehicles in this category and modernisation packages for them continue to be developed to this day, including newer variants of both the Pantsir and Tunguska. Perhaps it's all the more ironic therefore that the latest addition to Russia's anti-aircraft arsenal is in fact a DIY SPAAG currently deployed with the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) in the breakaway state of Transnistria.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is about to mark its one hundredth day. With its goals unreached, its army struck back, a country in ruins, and the scope of its destruction ever escalating, the Special Operation is increasingly starting to resemble the war that should never have been fought – the one that determines not just the future of Ukraine, but also of Russia and with it the entirety of Europe. The Russian military now finds itself in an entirely new phase of the conflict, wherein the dice of fate are recast as Russian objectives have taken on a much more limited and realistic character, yet stocks of modern weaponry are depleting, and Ukraine is beginning to field ever more advanced NATO-supplied armament. [1]

Saturday, 21 May 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
By now, nearly all EU and NATO member countries have provided varying degrees of military support to aid Ukraine in its fight against the Russian Army. While the transfer of a S-300PMU SAM battery by Slovakia and the supply of Javelin and NLAW ATGMs by the U.S. and UK have garnered much public attention, many more countries have contributed in their own respective ways. One of these countries is Greece, which pledged to provide military aid to Ukraine as early as February 27. [1] This consisted of 20.000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 815 RPG-18 disposable rocket launchers and an undisclosed number of 122mm unguided rockets. [1] At least two plane loads worth of armament and munitions were dispatched to Ukraine shortly thereafter, where this armament is currently used in action against Russian forces. [2]

Monday, 25 April 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Netherlands was one of the first European countries to pledge significant military aid to Ukraine before Russia launched its invasion of the country on the 24th of February. This aid consisted of two Thales Squire ground surveillance radars, five AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder weapon-locating radars, two SeaFox autonomous underwater vehicles for mine detection, 100 (anti-materiel) sniper rifles along with 30,000 rounds of ammunition, and 3000 helmets and 2000 flak jackets. [1] After the invasion had commenced, an additional aid package that included 50 Stinger MANPADS launchers with 200 missiles and 50 Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapons along with 400 rockets was quickly announced. [2] Not much later, the Dutch Minister of Defence announced it would no longer provide details on arms deliveries to Ukraine to safeguard operational security. [3]

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As one of the smallest militaries in NATO, Slovakia has nevertheless played an important part in providing Ukraine with the types of armament it requires to hold off Russia's invasion. In addition to 12.000 120mm mortar rounds, MANPADS and ATGMs, this has also included the country's sole S-300PMU surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery. [1] [2] This system essentially constituted the country's only viable ground-based deterrence against enemy aircraft, a capability Slovakia was willing to give up in an effort to bolster Ukraine's battered arsenal of SAM systems. Whilst the resulting gap will be filled by U.S. Patriot SAM systems deployed to Slovakia in the short term, the country will have to acquire a system of its own to replace this capability lost in the long term, or else forgo it entirely. [3]

Slovakia is currently also considering donating its entire fleet of MiG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine, a move that would finally give heed to President Zelensky's long-standing request for additional fighter aircraft. [4] [5] While the actual merit of additional fighter aircraft to Ukraine is debatable (along with many of Zelensky's other requests for heavy weaponry), it is certain that the delivery of MiG-29s to Ukraine would be a huge morale boost to both its citizens and military, and finally satisfy Ukraine's most vocal request ever since Russia began its invasion on February 24.

The Slovak Air Force officially operates nine single-seat MiG-29AS fighters and two MiG-29UBS trainers out of Sliac air base in Central Slovakia. Only five MiG-29AS' and one MiG-29UBS are currently believed to be operational to meet a minimum requirement for air policing while the Air Force awaits their replacement by 12 single-seat and 2 double-seat F-16V Block 70/72s in 2023. All of Slovakia's MiG-29s were upgraded by RSK MiG to NATO standards between 2005 and 2008 and designated MiG-29AS and MiG-29UBS (S for Slovakia), but otherwise retain their original capabilities from when they were first delivered to Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s.
 
Unfortunately, this means the MiG-29AS' are actually less advanced than Ukraine's own 60-strong fleet of MiG-29 9.13s and MiG-29MU1s (an upgraded variant of the MiG-29 9.13), which has thus far suffered at least four (visually confirmed) losses during the 2022 invasion. [6] [7] Although Ukraine has been adamant that it needs additional fighter aircraft to defend its cities and ground forces against Russian aircraft and helicopters, such a task would arguably be better handled by additional mobile SAM systems. Despite popular perception, there has been little indication so far suggesting that Ukrainian fighter aircraft have managed to significantly disrupt the daily operations of the Russian Air Force.

Even though the U.S. had previously looked at Poland and Bulgaria to potentially secure a supply for additional MiG-29s to Ukraine, the MiG-29 is interestingly enough not on Ukraine's wishlist. In documents setting out the Ukrainian military's requests that were obtained by these authors, the desired aid would have included the delivery of brand-new F-15EXs, F-15SEs and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. Apart from the fact that the F-15SE 'Silent Eagle' was merely a proposal aircraft that was never built and that the USAF is only just receiving the first of its F-15EX Eagle IIs, such a request also completely ignores the fact that it would take months for Ukrainian personnel to become familiar with these types, let alone for them to learn tactics that would allow them to be effectively used.

Slovakia's MiG-29s wear this attractive pixelated camouflage pattern.

Earlier attempts at providing Ukraine with Poland's and Bulgaria's MiG-29s failed to come to fruition, presumably because such a delivery was judged too (politically) risky and cumbersome, especially when compared with the more simple (and politically safer) delivery of ground-based assets such as ATGMs and MANPADS. It's also possible that Poland likewise views the delivery of MiG-29s to Ukraine as excess to Ukraine's actual defensive needs. Combined with the fact that the Polish Air Force would quickly have to find replacements for the air defence capabilities lost by transferring its MiG-29s as tensions with Russia are at an all time high, it is no large surprise that the delivery never materialised.

The same considerations affect Slovakia, which has previously indicated that donation of its MiG-29s is only possible when guarantees are given that its airspace would still be protected after losing its entire fighter aircraft capability (at least until 2023). Such a guarantee could be realised by having the Polish or Czech Air Force take over Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties for Slovakia, or by temporarily stationing NATO aircraft in Slovakia to provide air policing duties instead.

If a transfer does take place, the aircraft will likely be stationed on air bases in Western Ukraine. Their dispersal and frequent relocation around the air base could significantly increase their survivability, and thereby force Russia to increase its current efforts to ground the Ukrainian Air Force. As Russia has still failed to do so after two months of war, there is little indication that they would soon be successful. Though the concrete contribution in terms of enemy equipment destroyed may not be substantial, the mere fact that the opposing side will need to adjust its operations to prevent losses can have a very real effect on the situation on the ground.

In terms of logistics and existing knowledge base, the potential Slovakian delivery would probably be the most realistic plan for air assets to be delivered to Ukraine so far. With pilots already trained on the type, and commonality of weaponry and infrastructure, a smooth transition into Ukrainian Air Force service is likely. This is true not in small part because the delivery can be expected to concern no more than a handful of aircraft, making their integration straightforward, but their potential impact limited.In this sense, the symbolism and heartening effect these aircraft can convey might well outstrip their actual combat efficacy.
 

Components of the S-300PMU battery on their way to Ukraine, April 8, 2022.

Slovakia has already proven that you don't need to be a large country with a sizeable military to provide meaningful materiel support. As other NATO countries like Germany and France have so far hold off on delivering heavy weaponry like AFVs and artillery to Ukraine, Central European countries like Slovakia, Poland and Czechia are picking up the slack and keeping Ukraine fighting. Whether Slovakia's MiG-29AS' will soon join the fray remains to be seen, though their inclusion in Slovakia's immaculate record of support is not needed to prove its status as one of the staunchest allies of freedom in Europe.


[1] Slovakia to send artillery ammunition, fuel worth 11 mln euros to Ukraine https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/slovakia-send-military-material-worth-26-mln-euros-ukraine-media-2022-02-26/
[3] U.S. to place Patriot missile defense system in Slovakia to help with Ukraine swap https://www.npr.org/2022/04/08/1091711705/us-missile-defense-system-slovakia-ukraine
[4] Slovakia ready to donate MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine https://kafkadesk.org/2022/04/15/slovakia-ready-to-donate-mig-29-fighter-jets-to-ukraine/
[5] Slovakia in talks over possible transfer of MiG jets to Ukraine https://www.politico.eu/article/slovakia-mig-jets-to-ukraine-prime-minister-eduard-heger-bratislava/
[6] Guardians of the Ukraine: The Ukrainian Air Force Since 1992 https://books.google.com/books/about/Guardians_of_the_Ukraine.html
[7] List Of Aircraft Losses During The 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine   Slovakia in talks over possible transfer of MiG jets to Ukraine

 

Saturday, 16 April 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

There's little denying at this point that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been an unmitigated military and economical disaster. What was meant to be a quick operation with the aim of surrounding and seize Kyiv and Eastern Ukraine, forcing Western powers to the negotiation table over the future status of the country, has now turned into a bloody war of attrition in the East that Russia is not in a position to sustain. Russia's offensive has laid bare a host of problems with Russian military leadership, tactics and equipment, together culminating in a catastrophe that will surely be analysed for years to come.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
  
Six weeks into Russia's invasion of Ukraine it can be argued that the full array of issues affecting the Russian military and its operational planning have been laid bare. Setting out to first seize Kyiv within days in order to have a strong position in negotiations with the West about the future status of Ukraine in exchange for a reduction of sanctions, it suddenly finds itself a month past that deadline with meagre territorial gains, an army in tatters and severe reputational damage, not to mention an economy buckling under some of the heaviest sanctions ever instated on a nation. [1]

Monday, 11 April 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
The following list attempts to keep track of heavy military equipment delivered or pledged to Ukraine during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The entries below are sorted by armament category (with a flag denoting the country of delivery), and due to the confidential nature of some arms deliveries they can serve only as a lower bound to the total volume of weaponry shipped to Ukraine. Private donations or purchases, ATGMs, MANPADS, mortars and commercial UAVs are not included in this list. This list will be updated as further military support is declared or uncovered.

Friday, 8 April 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
In a conflict that is shaping up to be one of the most intense and rapidly developing of our time, drones have come to play an increasingly important role, and could well end up being one of the pivotal factors in its eventual conclusion. Thus, the delivery of at least 16 additional Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, on top of the 18 already in Ukraine's pre-war inventory, constitutes perhaps one of the most significant instances of support to Ukraine's plight yet. [1] Now evidence has emerged that Turkey's drone contributions have not remained limited to the TB2, with new combat footage of Baykar's Mini-Bayraktar UAV confirming their delivery to the country. [2]

Thursday, 7 April 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
With modern U.S., Chinese and Turkish UCAVs already operationally deployed in a multitude of nations and conflicts worldwide, Russia has been notably lagging behind in the development and production of such drones. Favouring instead (manned) attack helicopters like the Ka-52 and Mi-28(N) to perform strike missions while loitering over the battlefield, they adhere to a doctrine that disregards the UCAV's carefully executed reconnaissance and strike operations for more aggressive search and assault missions. Each new conflict of the modern age seems to showcase the merit of the UCAV to greater detail however, and Russia has thus increasingly opted to invest in the concept as well.

Thursday, 24 March 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
As a conflict that is quickly becoming established as one of the most ferocious and costly wars of the modern era continues to rage in Europe's East, more and more evidence of staggering losses on both sides becomes apparent. [1] Ukrainian cities are being reduced to rubble overnight in bombardments that are brutal both for their intensity and disregard for civilian life, while equipment losses, especially on the Russian side, are astonishing. Amidst this chaos, Ukraine has been the recipient of a steady influx of armament that nevertheless falls far short from being decisive, with some of its most generous (though involuntary) donations so far in fact coming from the Russian Army. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Joost Oliemans Kemal, Dan and Jakub Janovsky
  
A detailed list of destroyed, damaged and captured ships of both sides can be seen below. This list will be updated as additional footage becomes available.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Joost Oliemans, LotA, Kemal, Dan and Jakub Janovsky
  
A detailed list of destroyed, damaged and captured aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of both sides can be seen below. This list is constantly updated as additional footage becomes available.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer
 
The still early but shockingly brutal invasion of Ukraine by Putin's Russia has thrown the historically tragedy-ridden country back into some of its darkest days. Besieged from three directions whilst a vastly larger military force rains down fire on any target with little to no regard for civilian life, it is struggling for its very right to exist – with Vladimir Putin repeatedly making allusions to his intention of essentially dissolving the country into Russia. Under these circumstances, and with this grim prospective, the Ukrainian people would be forgiven for feeling hopeless and abandoned.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Kemal, Dan and Jakub Janovsky
 
A list of Russian targets confirmed to have been destroyed or neutralised by Bayraktar TB2s over Ukraine can be viewed below. This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. In some cases this solely consists of footage that was recorded on the ground. In these cases, the use of an armed drone was reported by witnesses on the ground. In an effort to attract as little attention to its operations as possible, very little footage of TB2 strikes over Ukraine has been released. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed by TB2s is likely significantly higher than recorded here. Hits on strategic targets of which no footage is available (such as fuel depots struck in Russia) are not included in this list. The list will be updated as additional footage becomes available. The list will be updated as additional footage becomes available.  

Thursday, 24 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Joost Oliemans, Kemal, Dan and Jakub Janovsky
  
This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here. Small arms, ATGMs, MANPADS, loitering munitions, drones used as unmanned bait, civilian vehicles, trailers and derelict equipment are not included in this list. All possible effort has gone into avoiding duplicate entries and discerning the status of equipment between captured or abandoned. Many of the entries listed as 'abandoned' will likely end up captured or destroyed. Similarly, some of the captured equipment might be destroyed if it can't be recovered. When the origin of a piece of equipment can't be established, it is not included in the list. The Soviet flag is used when the equipment in question was produced prior to 1991. This list is constantly updated as additional footage becomes available.
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By Stijn Mitzer in collaboration with Joost Oliemans, Kemal, Dan and Jakub Janovsky
  
This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here. Small arms, ATGMs, MANPADS, loitering munitions, drones used as unmanned bait, civilian vehicles, trailers and derelict equipment (including aircraft) are not included in this list. All possible effort has gone into avoiding duplicate entries and discerning the status of equipment between captured or abandoned. Many of the entries listed as 'abandoned' will likely end up captured or destroyed. Similarly, some of the captured equipment might be destroyed if it can't be recovered. When the origin of a piece of equipment can't be established, it is not included in the list. The Soviet flag is used when the equipment in question was produced prior to 1991. This list is constantly updated as additional footage becomes available.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

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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
 
Turkey's rise to a global drone power has drawn attention from all corners of the world. While there likely have been few developments in the past years that have benefited NATO as much as the profileration of the Bayraktar TB2, others maintain that Turkish drones pose a threat to NATO or even world peace. Disregarding the fact that two NATO countries have so far ordered the TB2 and five more NATO member states are presently considering their acquisition, some of the claims from certain American politicians seem to be made on their personal background or family ties. [1]

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Malaysian government seeks to turn the country into Southeast Asia's testing ground for drones, in which international companies will design and produce unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for carrying out deliveries and to provide other unique services. [1] With these unmanned ambitions in mind, it is perhaps all the more surprising that the Malaysian government has invested little in the acquisition of UAVs for its armed forces, this despite the presence of an indigenous drone industry that has come up with several military-grade drone designs since the early 2000s.

Monday, 21 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Russia and Russian-backed separatist forces have been staging a number of false flag operations in Eastern Ukraine throughout mid-to-late February 2022 to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. Russia has long conducted such false flag operations to portray itself or allied nations as victims, evade responsibility (for MH17 for example), sow confusion and create a pretext for war. In typical Russian fashion, these operations are conducted with an amateurish approach that appears inherent to most Russian intelligence operations. [1]

Saturday, 19 February 2022

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By Thomas Nachtrab in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer
 
The S-125 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system gained wide popularity for its performance during the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars. Initially supplied to a number of countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the S-125 (NATO designation: SA-3 'Goa') quickly found its way to a great number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well. One of these countries was Mali, which received its S-125 systems somewhere during the early-to-mid 1980s.

Monday, 14 February 2022

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By Farooq Bhai in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer
 
The coronavirus pandemic (COVID) has engulfed the nations of the world. Globally, COVID has caused approximately 7 million deaths, a number that is likely even higher due to limited testing and problems in the attribution of the cause of death. COVID also gave rise to a pandemic power play between world powers that sought to aid other countries in their fight against the pandemic. In Africa, the great power competition occured between China and the United States, both of which supplied large quantities of aid to the continent. A major part of that aid consisted of mobile field hospitals, which gave African nations the capability to rapidly deploy state-of-the-art hospitals to the worst-hit areas.
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By Stijn Mitzer

The Central Asian region isn't exactly well-known for its armed-drone prowess. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan currently operate small numbers of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), with Kyrgyzstan having entered the age of drone-powered warfare only in late 2021. [1] Whilst Uzbekistan possesses a modest unmanned aerial reconnaissance capability in the form of several RQ-11 Ravens received from the US in 2018, it can be argued that only one Central Asian country has been expanding its unmanned arsenal to keep up with the newest trends: Turkmenistan.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Turkey's ambitions in the field of aviation have spawned advanced aircraft designs like the TF-X stealth fighter, the Hürjet advanced jet trainer and the T625 Gökbey helicopter. Equally great strides have been made in the design and production of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), most notably the Bayraktar Akıncı and the MIUS combat jet. Research, development and production of these designs (often within short timeframes) by Turkey is impressive, showing just what teams of motivated engineers supported, but not micromanaged, by its government can achieve.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The past two decades has seen the modernisation of Turkey's rail transport on a broad basis - and the Turkish government appears dead set to further advance the country's rail network in the coming years. Turkey currently possesses more high-speed rail than countries like South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom, and once it completes lines currently under construction or in the planning phase it is set to have the third largest high-speed rail network in the world. [1] [2] Ambitions hardly stop there, with the country on track to becoming a rail superpower: as in addition to building the necessary rail infrastructure Turkey will also design the trains that operate on it.

Monday, 7 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

As a pioneer in the aerospace sector, Turkey has designed a number of advanced manned and unmanned aircraft types. Most of these have been for the benefit of the Turkish Air Force and other air arms around the globe. Still, Turkey once had ambitious plans to enter the civilian aviation market with its TRjet domestic airliner project, which was cancelled in 2017. While this appeared to have put an end to any concrete plans to design and produce civilian aircraft at that time, it is certain that Turkey's ambitions in this sector continued to simmer in the background.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Armed with several torpedoes and nimble in their movements, these hunters and killers of the deep dare not be dismissed by their smaller size. The potency of small submarines was reaffirmed when a North Korean midget submarine sunk the ROKS Cheonan, a Pohang-class corvette of the South Korean Navy, in 2010. The Cheonan's active sonar had failed to detect the North Korean submarine that had been lurking in the area for the past day, which fired a single 533mm torpedo at the unsuspecting target. The submarine that had caused this tragedy slipped back into the dark waters of the North unnoticed, providing a tragic reminder of the effectiveness of small submarines.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The heavy infantry fighting vehicle (HIFV) concept has found little success with militaries around the world. Although the HIFV's heavy firepower and increased armour protection is of particular use during fighting in urban areas, the hefty pricetag of most HIFVs and their niche role have been enough to dissuade most militaries from ever acquiring them. Still, new HIFVs are designed to this day, with the Russian T-15 Armata, the Israeli Namer (HIFV) and the Chinese VT4 being some of the more recent examples. Of these, only the Namer has so far entered service.

Monday, 31 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Indonesia's stated desire to acquire drones from Turkey could one day also see an interest in the Bayraktar TB3, which was designed as a heavier version of the TB2 that can also operate from aircraft carriers and landing helicopter docks (LHDs). [1] The Indonesian Navy has already experimented with using fixed-wing UAVs from the helicopter deck of one of its Dutch-built Diponegoro-class corvettes. [2] Although the UAV could only take-off from the vessel and had to land at an air base, the effort clearly indicates that Indonesia is interested in operating shipborne fixed-wing UAVs.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

After the recent success of Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in Central Asia, all eyes are now set on the profileration of Turkish drones in Africa. [1] Tunisia has ordered the Anka UAS by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) while Morocco, Libya and Niger have all purchased Bayraktar TB2s. Other Sub-Saharan African countries like Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Togo have either hinted at an acquisition of the TB2 or have already placed an order for the type. [2] More countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are almost certain to follow as the TB2 is arguably the first UCAV that manages to combine reliability and affordability with devastatingly effective results on the battlefield.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
A great number of military projects currently pursued by Turkey have the potential to drastically alter the military balance in the Aegean Sea to the point that Greece is unlikely to ever subside the difference in quality and quantity. This includes the Bayraktar Akinci and MIUS unmanned combat aircraft, the TF-2000 air-defence destroyers, an indigenous fleet of armed unmanned surface vessels (AUSVs), six Type-214TN Reis class submarines with air-independent propulsion and the prospective introduction of small attack submarines. All of these weapon systems are to strengthen Turkey's fleet of some 200 armed drones already conducting regular patrols over the Aegean.
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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The Azerbaijani Navy operates a hodgepodge of naval vessels mostly inherited from the Soviet Union after the country achieved independence in 1991. While Azerbaijan's State Border Service has in recent years introduced a large number of Israeli patrol boats, the Azerbaijani Navy has to do with the leftovers, with its only 'new' acquisitions presenting a number of Soviet-era patrol boats and tugs transferred from the State Border Service. Perhaps as a result of its seemingly unremarkable inventory of ships, little attention has been devoted to the operations of the Azerbaijani Navy.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Countries across the African continent are becoming increasingly aware of the need for efficient public transportation. 2018 witnessed the inauguration of the first high-speed rail line in Morocco, with four more African countries set to follow Morocco's example. In 2021, Senegal made great strives towards more efficient public transport when it inaugurated the Train Express Régional (TER) commuter rail service, which seeks to connect the capital Dakar with the country's new international airport. TER uses modern Alstom trains with an operating speed of 160km/h.
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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The success of Chinese-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) once seemed unstoppable, with countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa acquiring ever larger numbers of Wing Loong and CH-series of UCAVs. This impressive sales record seems to have had little to do with an apparent preference for Chinese UCAVs however. Rather, the UCAV market featured very little competition during the first half of the last decade, particularly if the country looking to acquire UCAVs didn't have the luxury of being able to purchase arms from the United States.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Although many military analysts are well aware of Turkey's rise to a drone power, meanwhile also including the first production multi-role unmanned combat aircraft in the world, not nearly enough know about Turkey's strives in the design of unmanned surface vessels (USVs). [1] The year 2021 witnessed the unveiling of three armed unmanned surface vessel (AUSV) types, the ULAQ-series by ARES, the NB57/RD09 by Sefine and the USV 11/15 by Dearsan. Thanks to these designs, its UCAVs and a great number of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), Turkey is well on its way to becoming the market leader in unmanned weapon systems.

Friday, 21 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

Vietnam has sought to address its security requirements by fielding a large military apparatus equipped with mostly Soviet-era weaponry that can be quickly reinforced by a massive reserve force armed with anything from World War II-era Soviet rifles to U.S. Main Battle Tanks dating from the 1960s. Modern equipment is relatively lacking in the inventory of the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA), with Vietnam instead preferring to upgrade existing weaponry to keep these combat relevant in the 21st century. A prime example of this is the T-54M3 tank upgrade project.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

During the 2021 edition of Teknofest in Istanbul it was announced that Turkey intends to organise its Teknofest technology festival in other countries as well. [1] Several nations come to mind that maintain a strong relationship with Turkey and are a recipient of Turkish arms and technology, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). One such country is Azerbaijan, which has made significant investments in the acquisition and production of various types of unmanned weapon systems and is currently looking to expand on its domestic technology base.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Out of all the aerospace collaborations currently discussed between Ukraine and Turkey, the possibility of completing the second An-225 Mriya, the world's largest cargo aircraft, is arguably the most fascinating. Turkey's interest in the An-225 was first reported in October 2020, when President Erdoğan raised the idea of completing the aircraft during a visit of Ukrainian President Zelensky to Ankara. [1] Although little has been heard of the plan since, Turkish involvement could mean a breakthrough in providing the stimulus and funds to finally complete the second An-225 and bringing it into service.
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By Stijn Mitzer
 
Unbeknownst to many, Azerbaijan has designed a vast range of unguided and guided munitions for use with its air force. Whilst it is unknown how many of these designs have actually entered service, it is certain that the design of air-to-ground munitions represents one of the more promising parts of the country's fledging arms industry. In addition to including a number of unguided bombs based on Soviet-pattern designs, several guided variants also exist. These use either laser-guidance, GPS/INS or a wing guidance kit to hit targets up to 65 kilometres away with high accuracy.