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.