Saturday, 22 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
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 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 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 and Joost Oliemans

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 and Joost Oliemans
 
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 and Joost Oliemans
 
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.

Monday, 17 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As the number of nations operating unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) grows larger and larger each year, Jordan retired its entire inventory of UCAVs some two years after they first entered service. At the center of this drastic move was the performance of the country's fleet of six Chinese-made CH-4B armed drones, which's unreliability, incompatibility with other Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) assets and apparent inability to operate under jamming environments caused the RJAF to put them up for sale after barely seeing any operational use. [1]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The discovery of Iranian Ghaem-5 precision-guided munition (PGM) remains near the town of Gidami in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia in early January 2022 was a first indication that the Ethiopian Air Force had forward deployed its Iranian-made Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to an airport closer to the Oromia Region. [1] Satellite imagery now suggests that these armed drones have likely been deployed to Asosa in the neighbouring Benishangul-Gumuz Region. [2] From Asosa the Mohajer-6s have sufficient range to cover most of the Oromia Region where the Oromo Liberation Front (OLA) is currently active.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Kemal
 
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 Turkey 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).

Saturday, 15 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Otokar Cobra is one of the world's most successful infantry mobility vehicle (IMV) designs. Since the vehicle's inception in 1997, thousands of Cobra Is have been exported to more than twenty countries worldwide. Otokar would follow up on the original design with the improved Cobra II, which has meanwhile entered service with four more countries. Otokar has also designed a series of larger AFVs, of which the Arma APC and Tulpar IFV are arguably the most famous. Less well known is the export of Otokar Urals along with Cobra Is to Turkmenistan somewhere during the mid-2010s.

Rather than entering service with the Turkmenistan Army, the Otokar Urals were delivered to the Ministry of Internal Affairs while the State Border Service took possession of most if not all of the Cobra Is. The exotic blue camouflage pattern of the Ural IMVs contributes little to masking their presence in about any terrain imaginable, but with the service acting as the country's police force it can be argued that this is actually intended. Nonetheless, the 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun (HMG) installed in the cupola clearly suggests that the Ministry of Internal Affairs has an auxiliary combat task as well.

The more than hundred or so Cobras delivered to the country have been seen in several different camouflage patterns throughout their active career, which in Turkmenistan are known to change on a frequent basis. [1] The most recent one - seen during the 30th anniversary of independence parade in September 2021 - is broadly similar to some of the patterns worn by the soldiers of Turkmenistan's Ground Forces, albeit with far larger pixels or dots. Although arguably less spectacular than the pattern worn by the Urals, it's certainly more effective as an actual camouflage pattern.
 

Otokar Cobra I IMVs of the State Border Service on parade just outside of Ashgabat, September 2021.

Most of Turkmenistan's IMVs are equipped with a remote weapon station (RWS), and this also happens to be the case for the Cobra I fleet. In fact, a Cobra I fitted with a regular heavy machine gun cupola has only been sighted once in Turkmenistan. This consisted of a 12.7mm M2 HMG with a gunshield added, which however only provides meagre protection against incoming fire from the front. It appears plausible that this was a local modification, with most of the Cobra fleet armed with an Israeli IMI Wave 300 RWS fitted with a 12.7mm NSV RWS.
 

Note the Israeli IMI Wave 300 RWS.

Although the Otokar Ural's most plausible use in service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would be crowd control, it can also act as a fast transport for up to seven police officers. The Cobra similarly seats up to seven border guards in addition to the driver and commander. Both vehicle types come with rear doors to allow fast embarkation and disembarkation when needed. The Cobra also has an additional side door and top hatch for use by the passengers, greatly increasing the opportunities of escape when the vehicle has been hit or is on fire.

Unlike most other IMVs in Turkmen service, both the Ural and Cobra feature protection of their windows against the impact of rocks or other debris that could otherwise damage the windscreen and obscure the view of the driver. When dealing with an enemy armed with conventional weaponry, the armour protection of both vehicle types is sufficient to protect its occupants against small arms fire, artillery shrapnel and to a limited degree against anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and IEDs. [2] [3]


Otokar has achieved significant success with its infantry mobility vehicles in Turkmenistan and other countries across the globe. The country currently seems poised to further increase the capabilities of its armed forces through the introduction of new arms and equipment. Perhaps this could one day see the introduction of more Otokar products. Currently operating a large fleet of BTR-80 APCs and BMP-2 IFVs inherited from the Soviet Union, Otokar is certain to one day offer its Arma APCs/IFVs and Tulpar IFVs to act as their replacements.

The Otokar Cobra II (left) and Otokar Arma 8x8 IFV (right).

 
Special thanks to Sonny Butterworth.

Friday, 14 January 2022

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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 force to defend its territory and counter an increasingly assertive China. Among planned acquisition 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 drones from China and the design of the indigenous Elang Hitam (Black Eagle) system. [1]

Thursday, 13 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Most know about Turkey's rise to a global drone power. Not nearly as well known is that the precision-guided munitions carried by Turkish drones are being introduced just as swiftly as the drones carrying them. This meanwhile consists of 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 the 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.
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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 latest escalation of the unresolved conflict over the region. Hailed by Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as "our most important acquisition this year" in 2019, many expected to see the Su-30's participation in the conflict sooner or later, combatting Bayraktar TB2 drones and deterring Azerbaijani 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 the Su-30 the status of 'White Elephant' for 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.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Bayraktar Akıncı is the 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.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
''Don't bother to devote your energy to achieving impossible dreams. Just establish a bridge between us and them [western defence manufacturers], act as our translators, that's enough.'' (Address to Selçuk and Haluk Bayraktar by a bureaucrat at the Presidency of Defense Industries, mid-2000s) [1]
 
The concept of swarm-UAVs could drastically alter the way wars are being fought, with swarms of nimble UAVs attacking ground and air targets, carrying out reconnaissance missions and conducting electronic warfare missions all the while remaining in close contact with each other, providing a layer of independent operations not yet seen on the battlefield before. For all their novelty, most swarm-UAV concepts that are currently being tested are still years away from being fielded operationally.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
An air bridge between Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates and Iran has ensured Ethiopia is equipped with all the armament it needs to defeat the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) in the ongoing conflict. Despite totalling some 140 flights by January 2022, relatively little is known about the types of arms and equipment delivered to the embattled Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). [1] This is not in the least through the enforcement of strong operational security (OPSEC) rules throughout the entirety of the ENDF, forbidding soldiers to take photos of their equipment. Prior to the outbreak of the Tigray War, Ethiopia was known for its laxity in adhering to proper OPSEC procedures, a welcome fact for analysts like us.

Monday, 10 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Soviet Union is famous for the extravagant metro systems constructed in the cities of a number of Soviet republics. Major cities like Minsk, Tashkent, Moscow and Baku are all home to metro lines with lavishly decorated stations. The capitals of Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were simply too small to make the construction and operation of expensive metro systems feasible. This still holds true for most cities in Central Asia today, with many cities still relying on buses and marshrutkas (shared taxis) to get from one place to another.
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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 six 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 more Chinese-made UCAVs, in 2021 Kazakhstan turned to Turkey to press on its armed drone programme. Another supplier of UAVs to Kazakhstan is Israel, which however doesn't export UCAVs abroad.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Israel is Azerbaijan's largest supplier of arms and equipment, accounting for a whopping 69% percent of Azerbaijan's major arms imports in the period from 2016 to 2020. [1] [2] This number is likely to have risen even further after the conclusion of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which saw Azerbaijan expending a significant portion of its ammunition reserves that had to be replenished both during and after the war. [3] While Turkey is often thought to be a major exporter of military items to Azerbaijan, Turkey accounted for only 2,9% percent of Azerbaijan's imports of major arms from 2011 to 2020. [4]

Saturday, 8 January 2022

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By Lukas Müller in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer
 
This is an updated and expanded version of an article that was first published in the August/September 2020 newsletter of the Asian Air Arms Research Group. The article also updates information on Afghan L-39s featured in the author's book Wings over the Hindu Kush.
 
The Czechoslovak-made L-39 Albatros jet trainer was widely exported and enjoyed a long and successful career in service of many countries around the globe. Afghanistan received its first L-39s in 1977 with the last two examples being withdrawn only in the late 2000s or early 2010s, after at least 30 years of service. The story of Afghan L-39s might not be over yet, though: in December 2021, mechanics at Kabul airport, now under the command of the Taliban, began testing the engines of the remaining L-39s, with a clear ambition of bringing the long-grounded jets back to service. [1]

Friday, 7 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Not even a week after our earlier revelation that Wing Loong I armed drones operated by the United Arab Emirates over Tigray have possibly been involved in series of airstrikes on the town of Alamata that caused the deaths of dozens of civilians, Iranian unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) are now implicated in the same act. [1] New photographs depict the remains of an Iranian Ghaem-5 precision-guided munition (PGM) encountered near the town of Gidami in the Oromia Region in Ethiopia. [2] Although the drone strikes are reported to have resulted in the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the killing of civilians, these reports have not been independently verified. [2]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Indonesia continues to field large numbers of light tanks. The oldest of these, the AMX-13/75 and the PT-76, operated by the Army and Marine Corps respectively, were originally required in the 1960s. Despite having been upgraded throughout their career to help them retain at least some form of combat efficiency, both types now lag far behind in firepower, armour protection and fire-control systems and are scheduled for replacement. While the Indonesian Marine Corps intends to replace all of its PT-76s with BMP-3 IFVs, the Indonesian Army selected the Turkish Kaplan MT medium tank to replace its aging AMX-13s. In Indonesia, the Kaplan is known as the Harimau (meaning Tiger).
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A Ukrainian drone strike on a howitzer belonging to DNR seperatist forces in the contested region of Eastern Ukraine led several countries to voice their concern for the use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in the War in Donbas. [1] Interestingly, this not only included Russia, but also Germany and France. [2] [3] Since the strike, which took place on the 26th of October 2021, tensions between Ukraine and Russia have risen to their highest in years, with a large Russian troop build-up close to the border with Ukraine sparking fears that all out war could be imminent. [4]

Thursday, 6 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The last few months have seen a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the Ethiopian government. After a large Ethiopian Army offensive against Tigray forces in early October 2021 backfired spectacularly, the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) commenced a counteroffensive that at one point even threatened the security of the capital Addis Ababa. [1] Possessing little in the way of air defence systems that can counter (armed) drones flying high overhead, Tigray forces eventually succumbed to the pressure of unabated drone warfare and withdrew to the borders of the Tigray Region in mid-December 2021. [2]
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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)
 
Istanbul's intercontinental Marmaray Line has been hailed as a modern-day Silk Road. Connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul via a tunnel runing underneath the Bosphorus, the Marmaray is a modern engineering marvel that has drastically improved transportation in the whole of Istanbul by the number of stations it attends to and its connection with other modes of transportation including the metro, tram, and bus rapid transit. The 76.6km-long commuter line has 43 stations, fourteen of which are located in the European part of Istanbul.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

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By Farooq Bhai in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Pakistan has been a prolific user of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) since the late 1990s. In 2004, the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) inducted the indigenous Satuma Jasoos II ''Bravo+'' UAV, becoming the first branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces to operate UAVs. The Pakistani Army (PA) soon followed suit with another indigenous type, the Uqab P1 UAV designed by Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS), which entered entered active service with the Pakistani Army in 2008. The design of the Uqab P1 was further refined after incorporating lessons learned during its service with the PA and an improved version, known as the Uqab P2, was later adopted by the Pakistani Navy (PN) in 2010.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkmenistan is a large recipient of Israeli arms and equipment, so far including weaponry like the TAR-21 assault rifle and several types of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs). Arguably lesser known is Turkmenistan's inventory of Israeli-produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This until 2021 consisted of familiar types like the Elbit Skylark and Aeronautics Defense Orbiter 2B, both solely used for reconnaissance missions. These were acquired in the early-2010s, presenting Turkmenistan's first UAVs that were not target drones inherited from the Soviet Union.

Monday, 3 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Just a month after the deployment of six Emirati Wing Loong I unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and their operators to Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates is already implicated in a series of airstrikes on civilian infrastructure in the town of Alamata in the Tigray Region. The strikes resulted in the deaths of 42 civilians and the wounding of at least 150 as munitions struck the town's hospital and market. [1] [2] The majority of deaths are believed to have resulted from unguided bombs dropped by the Ethiopian Air Force's (ETAF) Su-27 fighter aircraft, which Ethiopia has repurposed as makeshift bombers armed with dumb bombs and cluster munitions. [3]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As naval shipbuilders in Europe face fierce competition by catering to a market that has meanwhile become too small for all of them to survive the coming decades, naval shipbuilding in Turkey is booming. Currently offering a wide range of naval vessels and arguably just as important, the associated armament and radar systems, at prices that are actually attainable for most countries worldwide, Turkish naval shipyards have achieved significant successes during the last decade. The most successful of these shipyards are Yonca-Onuk, STM and Dearsan. The latter two offer anything from small submarines to large frigate designs, one of which will be the subject of this article.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Satellite imagery from early December 2021 indicates that the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) has deployed Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to Harar Meda air base near Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. [1] The ETAF is known to have acquired two Mohajer-6s from Iran in early August, which it subsequently deployed to Semera airport in northeastern Ethiopia. [2] It is unknown whether the Mohajer-6 sighted at Harar Meda is one of the two examples delivered in August or a newly-delivered example that recently arrived to the country on board the Iranian air bridge that is still ongoing. [3]
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkey's rich aviation history spans far more time and projects than most people are presently aware of. Unfortunately, many of the country's indigenous aviation projects have received little attention, and even in Turkey itself some designs remain unknown even to seasoned aviation enthusiasts. Of course, it doesn't help that many of the country's early aircraft designs were destined to remain limited to the drawing board - as was the case with the Nu.D.40 fighter aircraft by Turkish aircraft manufacturer Nuri Demirağ - or limited to prototypes only. [1]