Tuesday, 27 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

''Western medicine says you can't cure asthma. I cure asthma in five minutes.'' (By Yahya Jammeh)
 
The Gambia's ousted President Yahya Jammeh had the curious distinction of having Africa's largest luxury car collection and the continent's largest VIP aircraft while being the head of the smallest country (within mainland Africa). He accomplished these feats as his country ranked as one of the poorest in the world, with half of its population living on less than $2 a day. [1] During his 22-year long tenture, Jammeh embezzled tens of million dollars from state enterprises and even used the State's Pension Fund to purchase one of his private jets. [2] From his entry into power after a coup d'etat in 1994 to his ousting in 2017, Jammeh spend much of his ill-gotten fortune on luxury cars, private jets and his palaces.

Monday, 26 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
On display at the Etimesgut Tank Müzesi near Ankara are a great number of exotic AFVs. This includes the country's first true tank, the T-26, which was acquired from the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and even German Panzer III and IV tanks received in 1943. These are generally maintained in a moderately fine condition, though they all have lost their original camouflage patterns and some overzealous museum director has installed massive fake gun barrels on all tanks he must have deemed underwhelming. Between AFVs such as the R-35, the Cemal Tural APC and M48 stands another AFV that although anything but rare, is still a surprising find in a Turkish Army tank collection: A Czechoslovak-made T-55A MBT. [1]

Sunday, 25 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
After we previously covered the world's ugliest 'Air Force One' on this website, it is about time to introduce the polar opposite of The Gambia's President Jammeh's horribly decorated Ilyushin Il-62. [1] As perhaps already apparent to the keen-eyed aviation enthusiast, the majestic De Havilland Comet 4C in question flew on behalf of the Saudi Royal Flight for use with King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Lavishly decorated with a VIP cabin filled with gold and distinguished by a gold, green and white colour scheme, the aircraft was the world's first executive jet. Sadly, the beauty of the aircraft was not to last for long, with a fatal crash in the Alps in 1963 making its glamour short-lived.

Saturday, 24 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Святість життя полягає в робленні добра людям - The sanctity of life lies in helping people (By Hryhorii Skovoroda)

Countries and private companies alike have taken actions in support of Ukraine amidst Russia's 2022 invasion of the country. Countless (private) efforts have been undertaken to make sure it can maintain its independence, whether through the provision of free Starlink satellite internet systems by SpaceX, the donation of 500.000 packs of cigarettes to the Ukrainian Army by Philip Morris International or the handout of 100.000 free flight tickets to Ukrainian refugees located in Eastern Europe by Wizz Air. [1] [2] [3] Military manufacturers around the world have also contributed significantly to Ukraine's Armed Forces, most often through the donation of military gear, ammunition, small drones and weapons. [4]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
''I will develop the areas that vote for me, but if you don't vote for me, don't expect anything.'' (By Yahya Jammeh)
 
It's no secret that the world's top leaders travel in style. Just look at America's 'Air Force One' or the lavish fleet of VIP aircraft owned by the Qatari royal family. While all these planes come with different levels of luxury, one thing is certain: The world's leaders like to travel in style. That is every world leader except for the Republic of The Gambia's now ousted President Jammeh, who boasted a fleet of VIP aircraft that included an Ilyushin Il-62M with arguably the worst looking airplane interior in the world. A Soviet jet airliner with a 1970s interior, flying for an African despot who purchased it with the State's Pension Fund while being maintained and flown by a crew from Cuba: What's not to like?

Friday, 23 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The use of Leopard 1A3 and Leopard 2A4 MBTs by the Turkish Army is quite well known, with Türkiye even deploying the latter in combat against Islamic State in late 2016. Yet the story of German-made Panzers in Türkiye doesn't start with the delivery of the first Leopard 1s in the 1980s, but rather with the delivery of Panzer III Ausf. Ms and Panzer IV Ausf. Gs from Nazi Germany in 1943. Here they joined an exotic inventory of tanks and other AFVs already in service with the Turkish Army. In fact, Türkiye is the only country in the world to have operated tanks from nearly all major players of the Second World War, including the Soviet Union, the UK, Germany, the U.S. and France.

Friday, 2 December 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) is known to operate a modest fast jet force comprised of some nine Chengdu F-7NII and FT-7N fighter aircraft and ten Hongdu K-8E jet trainers acquired from China in the late 1980s and mid-2000s respectively. Unbeknownst to many however, older jet aircraft types once thought long retired from operational service continue to see limited use as well, being maintained in operational condition and occasionally flown to ensure their airworthiness in times of need. These consist of the MiG-23UB, the BAe Hawk T.Mk 60 and even the Hawker Hunter FGA.Mk 9 and T.Mk 81 continue to be operated some 60 years after they were originally produced. In doing so, Zimbabwe is the last air force in the world to operationally deploy the Hunter, an absolute unicum!
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg boasts a small yet well-equipped military that since 2020 also includes an Air Component. Despite not actually being an independent service branch of the Luxembourg Armed Forces, it constitutes world's most modern air arm by virtue of its sole current aircraft (an A400M), which was delivered as recently as 2020. Setting aside this underwhelming feat, Luxembourg has in recent years further expanded its Air Component through the acquisition of two Airbus H145M helicopters, one Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and RQ-11 Raven, RQ-20 Puma and RQ-21 Integrator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The acquisition of additional aircraft and helicopters for tactical airlift and maritime surveillance is also planned in the near future. [1]

Monday, 28 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The following list attempts to keep track of foreign military equipment delivered to Russia by Belarus and Iran during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War. 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 Russia. Private purchases and commercially available military gear purchased for mobilised troops are not included in this list. This list will be updated as further military support is uncovered.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Iran's drone success sets the stage for an expansion of its sphere of influence as the number of countries where Iranian UAVs operate is growing. This not only includes a vast number of non-state actors such as Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, but also countries like Ethiopia (which began to operate its Mohajer-6 UCAVs in late 2021 after some initial teething issues), Russia and Tajikistan. It seems like the number of state actors operating Iranian UAVs is only set to increase in the future, while non-state actors like the Houthis will continue to receive new Iranian drone designs as the country's UAV designs are rapidly evolving despite the implementation of foreign sanctions specifically targeting Iran's drone industry and its exports abroad.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Few Russian weapons systems have managed to impress international audiences during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War. Though this is partially the result of decades of hyping up Russian weapons systems to standards they could never live up to by Western think tanks, Russia also failed to timely invest in certain technologies and thus is a latecomer to systems such as unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and loitering munitions. Despite having designed a host of guided weapons systems, few were ever acquired by the Russian Air Force in any meaningful numbers, which mostly continues to make use of 1980s-era Kh-25s and Kh-29s and even unguided bombs. Even Russia's most modern precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have been observed to be lacking in accuracy, especially compared to Western PGMs.

Friday, 25 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The use of Iranian-designed loitering munitions by Russia has received a large share of international media attention. Though they are a menace to Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, Russia has so far largely refrained from using them against Ukrainian military targets. A more serious development to Ukraine's Armed Forces comes in the form of the indigenously-designed Kub and Lancet-3(M) loitering munitions that Russia has increasingly been deploying to strike Ukrainian artillery, radars and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems out of reach from Russia's ground-based assets.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Transnistria, or the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) as it is officially called, is a breakaway state situated between Moldova and Ukraine that has largely escaped the world's attention ever since its self-proclaimed independence as a Soviet republic in 1990 and the subsequent violent secession from Moldova in 1992. When Transnistria took control over most of the weapons storage depots located on its territory, it inherited large amounts of highly specialised vehicles while being left without any significant numbers of (self-propelled) artillery or infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). The limited amount of such equipment that was present in Transnistria was returned to Russia after the conclusion of hostilities, leaving the PMR with an extensive arsenal of engineering vehicles only in service with a few countries in the world, while being almost completely deprived of equipment such as artillery and IFVs. 

Thursday, 24 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Moldovan Armed Forces is one of the most elusive fighting forces in Europe. As the poorest country on the European continent, Moldova has the dubious honour of not having made one acquisition for its military since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Instead, it has been the recipient of military aid from Romania in the 1990s and the United States throughout the 2000s and 2010s, and has in recent years attempted to improve the fighting efficacy of its forces by launching a number of upgrade projects for its armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs).

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
How to provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with military aid when your country barely possesses a military in the first place? That's a question the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg must have asked itself in late February shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. But while Belgium is still struggling for an answer to this question even in November 2022, the Lëtzebuerger Arméi reacted quickly, and immediately donated seven Jeep Wranglers, 102 NLAW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and 15 military tents to Ukraine on the 28th of February 2022. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Chechen forces are an integral part of Russia's Armed Forces. Its military formations have generally been described as 'Feuerwehr Der Front' during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, leading assaults and plugging holes in Russia's defensive lines. The tendency of some Chechen fighters to film and upload their exploits in combat on TikTok has also resulted in the less glamorous title of TikTok Brigade. In reality, Chechen forces appear to be faring better than most analogous units in the Russian military. Though Chechen units are part of the National Guard, and thus trained and equipped to combat internal threats, they have been mostly deployed to fight a conventional conflict in Ukraine.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The conclusion of the two-year-long First Chechen War in 1997 gave rise to internal chaos as the government of President Aslan Maskhadov proved unable to rebuild Chechnya and reign in the increasing number of Islamist factions in the Republic. Despite Maskhadov's decision to abolish the Chechen parliament and introduce aspects of Sharia law to appease Islamist factions, figures such as Shamil Basayev and Saudi-born Ibn al-Khattab effectively continued to undermine Maskhadov's rule. In April 1998, the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade, led by Basyev and al-Khattab, publicly declared its goal of creating an Islamic Emirate on the territory of Chechnya and Dagestan and the expulsion of Russians from the entire Caucasus: The seeds for the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) had been sowed.

Monday, 21 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
For a list of Russian equipment losses during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War click here.
 
The First Chechen War was fought between Russia and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from December 1994 to August 1996, ultimately leading to a peace treaty and de-facto independence for Chechnya in 1997. Russia's invasion and the two-year long conflict that ensued was preceded by a covert intervention carried out in support of a coup attempt by pro-Russian Chechen factions and Russian intelligence agencies in November 1994, which unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the regime of President Dzhokhar Dudayev. After successfully repelling a Russian armoured assault on the capital Grozny, Dudayev threatened the execution of dozens of Russian Army prisoners to force Russia to admit its involvement in the coup. By now more than fed up with the lawlessness that marked Chechnya during that period, and realising that its covert attempts at regime change in Chechnya had failed, Russia began to draw plans for an invasion of Chechnya, ultimately invading the unrecognised post-Soviet state on the 11th of December.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As the Russo-Ukrainian War inches forward towards the one-year mark, Türkiye has used its unique position – as a NATO member and as the only remaining connection of Russia to the West – to both arm Ukraine as well as host several rounds of peace talks and negotiating the Black Sea grain deal. Though Türkiye has remained the friendliest of all the NATO countries towards Moscow, it is also the only NATO country that has supplied armament to Ukraine without the explicit condition not to use these against targets located inside Russia. Ukraine has gladly made use of that operational flexibility, using its Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs to strike targets in Russia's Kursk and Belgorod Oblasts on numerous occasions. [1] [2] Its strategic leniency is not the only thing that distinguishes it amongst Ukraine's allies however, with its military support ranking as one of the most expansive of all NATO members.

Monday, 14 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Battered and bloody Hostomel airport stands as a monument to Ukraine's struggles against Russia's invasion force. Like a true David against Goliath, it broke the back of the Russian assault on Kyiv, in the process sadly losing its own gentle giant the Antonov An-225 Mriya (meaning: dream). Yet like the dream of a Ukrainian nation free from enemies and oppressors, the An-225 Mriya lives on in its unfinished sister airframe. Its construction, like the construction of this free Ukraine, is set be accomplished in memory of those Ukrainian pilots who perished during the war and to act as a flying symbol of Ukrainian national identity and a free and democratic country filled with Mriyas (dreams). [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Armenia's attempts at increasing the fighting efficacy of its forces has seen it designing and producing anything from lightweight MRLs, remote-controlled machine guns that can be fired from the safety of a trench to various types of drones and even IR dazzlers to protect tanks against the threat of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). [1] [2] Most of these designs have remained shrouded in obscurity as a result of their low production numbers and the fact that little attention was ever devoted to the Armed Forces of Armenia, despite it being engaged in active conflict for decades.

Friday, 11 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Su-30 was a notable absentee from the air war over Nagorno-Karabakh during the 2020 conflict. Hailed by Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as "our most important acquisition this year" in 2019, many expected to witness the Su-30's participation in the conflict sooner or later, combatting Bayraktar TB2 drones and deterring Azerbaijani Su-25 close air support aircraft from releasing their deadly ordnance on Armenian soldiers below. [1] But as days turned into weeks, it became increasingly clear that the Su-30s were deliberately kept out of the fighting, earning them the title of 'White Elephant' in the eyes of some. This article will attempt to provide a rationale for why the Su-30s didn't participate in the conflict and look into Armenia's decision to acquire the aircraft in the first place.

Thursday, 10 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has seen NATO countries scrambling to strengthen their defensive posture by acquiring additional weaponry. For no country is this more true than for Poland, which has embarked on a military shopping spree unprecedented in modern European history. This has so far included the purchase and planned purchase of 1,000 K2 MBTs, 672 K9 SPGs and 288 K239 MRLs from South Korea and 366 M1 Abrams MBTs and 92 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the United States. Meanwhile, domestic defence producers are to provide the Polish Armed Forces with almost 1,500 IFVs and hundreds artillery pieces in addition to systems such as drones and tank destroyers.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Indonesia's stated desire to procure Bayraktar unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Türkiye could one day also see an interest in the Bayraktar TB3, which was designed as a heavier version of the TB2 that can operate from aircraft carriers and landing helicopter docks (LHDs). [1] The Indonesian Navy has already experimented with deploying the indigenous LSU-02 UAV from the helicopter deck of one of its Diponegoro-class corvettes. Although the LSU-02 could only take-off from the vessel and in no way represents an operational capability, the test appears to indicate that Indonesia is interested in operating shipborne fixed-wing UAVs in addition to VTOL examples.

Monday, 7 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

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, Djibouti, Rwanda, Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Togo and Burkina Faso have all received the Bayraktar TB2. Other Sub-Saharan African countries like Angola and Mozambique have hinted at an acquisition of the TB2. [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.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Indonesian Air Force is currently undergoing a re-equipment programme with the aim of building up a qualitative and quantitative force to defend its territory and counter an increasingly assertive China. Among planned acquisitions of assets such as multirole combat aircraft, tanker aircraft and new attack helicopters, the Indonesian Armed Forces are also investing in the acquisition and development of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). This has so far included the purchase of six CH-4B armed drones from China and the rumoured acquisition of Turkish-made UCAVs from Baykar Tech. [1]

Sunday, 6 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Serbian arms industry is flourishing, with anything from small arms to advanced guided weaponry being designed and produced for the Serbian Army and for a number of international customers including the UAE, Cyprus, Turkmenistan and Bangladesh. This meanwhile has come to include a number of unmanned aerial vehicle designs that have already entered service with the Serbian Army in limited quantities. More ambitious designs are also in the pipeline, including the Pegaz 011 UCAV, the Gavran 145 loitering munition and the X-01 Strsljen helicopter UCAV.

Saturday, 5 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The possible participation of Belarus in the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War has been speculated about on more than one occasion. Yet others argue that Belarus is already a participant in the war simply by allowing Russia to stage a part of the invasion from its territory and by allowing Russian missile launchers stationed inside the country to fire at targets inside Ukraine. Nonetheless, with a direct Belarusian participation in the war all but certain to trigger a chain of events that would ultimately see the end of the Belarusian regime, President Lukashenko is likely to do everything in his power to prevent an increased Belarusian participation (i.e. providing troops) in the war in Ukraine.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of China (ROC), popularly known as Taiwan, has seen the number of countries that recognise it as a sovereign country diminish from 24 in 2012 to 14 in 2022. The election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016 and in 2020 was met by a diplomatic offensive by the PRC to steal away the few remaining countries that still recognise the ROC as the sole legal government of China. Nonetheless, it can be argued that the de-jure recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign nation ultimately matters little, as it is de-facto already treated as one. Indeed, Taiwan has been lauded for its highly effective Covid-19 response, and Eastern European countries (including Ukraine) have not shied away from cosying up to Taiwan even under diplomatic pressure from the PRC. Still, international recognition is an important matter of national pride and Taiwan has invested significant resources in keeping countries committed to it.

Friday, 4 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer, Lukas Müller and Joost Oliemans
 
For an article on the development of the Islamic Emirate Air Force click here.
 
The Islamic Emirate Air Force (IEAF) has surprised friend and foe alike by not only continuing to exist as a functional air force, but also by continuously expanding its operational inventory of aircraft through overhauling both damaged and decommissioned aircraft. Though still only a fraction of the size of the Coalition-supported Afghan Air Force, the IEAF's operational inventory meanwhile includes more than a dozen attack helicopters, more than twenty transport helicopters and half a dozen transport aircraft. While the Taliban was expected by many to be unable to operate its UH-60A+ Black Hawks for more than a few months, at least six Black Hawks currently continue to see service as well.
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By Lukas Müller in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
This article summarises the development of the Islamic Emirate Air Force or the 'Taliban Air Force' as the service is popularly known as in the West, and attempts to answer oft-asked questions such as: 'Who are the Taliban's pilots?', 'What aircraft does the Taliban operate?' and 'How can they maintain these aircraft?' For an inventory assessment of the Islamic Emirate Air Force click here.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
It is scarcely known that the Polish Navy operated two guided-missile destroyers from 1970 until 2003. Although by no means modern ships even for 1970s and 1980s standards, these vessels nonetheless constituted one of the few classes of naval vessels armed with surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) operating in the Baltic Sea that were not operated by the Soviet Union for a significant part of the Cold War. The decommissioning of the Project 61MP-class destroyer ORP Warszawa in 2003 brought an end to 73-years of consecutive destroyer operations by the Polish Navy.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Belarusian Army has for the most part experienced a drought in new acquisitions since its founding in 1992. Much of the scarcely available funding for new acquisitions has been used for the purchase of combat aircraft and air defence systems, most often acquired at friendly prices from Russia. The Ground Forces have been the recipient of 25 T-72B3 Obr. 2016 MBTs and some 65 BTR-82A(M) IFVs from Russia, while China has donated 22 EQ2058s and an unknown number of CS/VN3 infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) since 2012. China is also the source of the technology behind the Belarusian Polonez guided MRL/SRBM system, which entered service with the Belarusian Army in 2015.

Monday, 31 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Most who follow international affairs know about Türkiye's rise to a global drone power. Not nearly as widely known is the fact that the precision-guided munitions carried by Turkish drones are being introduced just as swiftly as the drones carrying them. This meanwhile comprises an expansive arsenal of guided munitions cleared for use on several types of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and combat aircraft. The latter includes the upcoming Hürjet jet trainer and TF-X stealth fighter. The fact that all of these munitions adhere to NATO standards for munitions means that countries can easily integrate Turkish-produced munitions on their own aircraft, which might be precisely what ensures their commercial success.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Spurred on in the early 2010s by the growing international unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market, Belarus has gone on to develop a wide range of UAVs. But despite the country's success as an exporter of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, foreign clients have so far largely avoided Belarus as a source of their UAVs. Only Angola and Turkmenistan are currently confirmed to operate Belarusian UAVs, which the latter also produces under license. Further deals signed with Egypt, Ecuador and Vietnam for cooperation and possible production of Belarusian UAVs in these countries has so far not led any of these countries to actually operationally deploy any Belarusian UAV types. [1] [2]

Saturday, 29 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
  
The 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War has laid bare the issues affecting the Russian Armed Forces and the farce that was Russia's military build-up of the 2010s after a lengthy period of decay throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Having lost the initiative across the whole frontline and so far unable to change the tide, Russia's only remaining hope at stabilising the front are the country's mobilisation and the potential mass use of (Iranian) loitering munitions and ballistic missiles to force Ukraine to the negotiation table at terms favourable to Russia. Whatever their eventual effects on the course of the war, there can be no doubt the Russian leadership completely overestimated its own capabilities while at the same time severely underestimating the Ukrainians' resolve in defending their country.

Friday, 28 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Few countries have weaponised disinformation to the extent Russia has over the past decade. Yet for all its attempts at influencing foreign opinion through fabrications and false narratives, Russia generally puts surprisingly little effort into crafting most of its propaganda claims. Whether it's denying the use of cluster bombs over Syria while at the same time publishing a video showing Syrian-based RuAF aircraft carrying cluster bombs or using footage from a video game as evidence of the United States supporting ISIS in Syria, most false narratives serve to convince Russias's domestic audience or a foreign audience that is already inclined to believe Moscow's narrative in the first place. [1] [2]

Thursday, 27 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Bayraktar Akıncı is world's first production multi-role unmanned combat aircraft. Arguably the most innovative aspect of the Akıncı is its capability to use air-to-air missiles (AAMs), consisting of the indigenous Bozdoğan IIR-guided AAM and the (fire-and-forget) Gökdoğan BVRAAMs. Another novel feature is the ability to use the 275+km-ranged SOM family of cruise missiles designed to be used against enemy command posts, SAM sites, hardened bunkers ships or any other target that requires a precision hit.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Although most military analysts are well aware of Türkiye's rise as a major drone power, meanwhile also boasting the first production multi-role unmanned combat aircraft in the world, not nearly enough know about the strides it is making 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), Türkiye is well on its way to becoming the market leader in unmanned weapons systems.

Sunday, 23 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
In late October 2021 it was announced that the mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan had placed an order for three Turkish Bayraktar TB2 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 first began to operationally deploy fixed-wing aircraft in 2018, and that only because it received two An-26 transport aircraft from Russia free of charge. [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. In October 2022 it was further revealed that Kyrgyzstan is eyeing the acquisition of several Bayraktar Akıncıs. [4]

Thursday, 20 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

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

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Bangladesh is the eighth-most populated country in the world with a population of more than 168 million. Despite boasting a force of some 225.000 military personnel that frequently deploys on peacekeeping missions throughout the world, the Bangladesh Armed Forces are notably lacking in long-range weaponry and modern combat aircraft. Forces Goal 2030, a modernisation programme that was originally launched in 2009, seeks to introduce these and other new capabilities as neighbouring Myanmar already has made great strides in expanding the capabilities of its military.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan has accumulated an exotic arsenal of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) acquired from a colourful range of countries worldwide. Intriguingly, at least some of those acquisitions appear to stem from an intention of increasing ties with a particular country rather than of actually fulfilling a genuine military requirement for that type of equipment. This 'friendship through arms' policy comes at the cost of an increasingly complicated logistic system that by now has to source spare parts from nine different countries for Turkmenistan's fleet of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) alone!

Monday, 17 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

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 constantly expanding its unmanned arsenal to keep up with the newest trends: Turkmenistan.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

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 it combat effective in the 21st century. A prime example of this is the T-54M3 tank upgrade project.

Friday, 14 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Egemenlik verilmez, alınır – Sovereignty is not given, it is taken (By Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)

The Turkish Navy is set to build at least four TF-2000 air-defence destroyers that will be the most capable and heavily-armed naval vessels in the Mediterranean Sea once they enter service throughout the 2030s. The TF-2000 will incorporate almost every technological achievement made by Türkiye in the field of naval systems in the last decade, including an indigenous vertical launch system (VLS) fitted with domestic surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and Gezgin land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) and (notably) directed-energy weapons including high-energy lasers (HELs).

Thursday, 13 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Russia is notably lagging behind in the development and production of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). Its attempts to catch up have included weaponising the Forpost UAV, which is a licensed copy of the Israeli IAI Searcher, and designing an indigenous UCAV known as the Kronshtadt Orion. Several more advanced UCAV designs are also in the pipeline, including Sukhoi's Okhotnik-B, and Kronshtadt's Sirius and Grom projects. The future of these systems, already in some doubt due to a lack of access to certain key technologies, will be even more so now that Russia finds itself buckling under the weight of international sanctions. Regardless of the continued course of their development, it is certain that Russia has all but missed the boat when it comes to cashing in on the worldwide drone revolution. To add further insult to injury, Russia has recently found itself forced to turn to Iran for the acquisition of Mohajer-6 UCAVs and Shahed-131/6 loitering munitions to satisfy its operational needs during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

In November 2021 it was announced that Kazakhstan had signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for the delivery of three TAI Anka unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). [1] Their purchase comes some five years after the Kazakh Air Force first acquired an armed drone capability in the form of four Wing Loong Is from China. [2] Rather than acquiring additional Chinese-made UCAVs, in 2021 Kazakhstan thus turned to Türkiye to press on with its armed drone programme. Other suppliers of UAVs to Kazakhstan are Israel and Russia, which both have delivered a number of reconnaissance UAVs.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Republic of China, more commonly referred to as Taiwan, continues to invest billions into its domestic arms industry to safeguard R&D and production capabilities. While Taiwan is already self-sufficient in the design and production of most weapons systems or well on its way towards attaining such a capacity, the nation still makes regular purchases from the United States, its biggest supplier of arms and munitions. Recent purchases have included 108 M1A2T MBTs, 29 M142 HIMARS MRLs along with 84 ATACMS SSMs and 864 guided rockets, and Harpoon coastal defence missile systems. [1] [2] The latter two systems will serve alongside their Taiwanese-designed counterparts.

Monday, 10 October 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Though home to elements of the 17th Army Corps of the Central Asian Military District, Kyrgyzstan inherited little in the way of (modern) military equipment after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, it can be argued that Kyrgyzstan was the worst off of all post-Soviet states when it comes to the military assets they inherited (with the exception of the Baltic states). With little investments having been directed to the Kyrgyz Army since, the country's inventory in many ways resembles that of the Soviet Army during the late 1970s. The acquisition of three Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs for the State Border Guard in 2021 represents the biggest military investment by Kyrgyzstan so far, and these were used with high effect during the September 2022 border skirmishes with Tajikistan. [1]