Thursday, 27 January 2022

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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.

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.

Monday, 17 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
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
 
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.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
''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.

Monday, 10 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
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.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The State of Israel is Azerbaijan's largest supplier of arms and equipment, accounting for a whopping 69% percent of the country'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 expend a significant portion of its ammunition reserves that had to be replenished both during and after the war. [3] While Türkiye is often thought to be a major exporter of military items to Azerbaijan, Türkiye 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
 
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]

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

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By Farooq Bhai in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer

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

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.