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]