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Russian Rearmament Will Last Until 2025

June 20, 2017

This year marked the official rubber stamping of Moscow’s next rearmament program. The timetable and its goals, which span improvements in nuclear forces, smart weapons, and air defense, are supposed to extend the scope of the earlier effort that was menaced by dwindling government revenue.

The new “state program of armaments” is scheduled from 2018 till 2025. This overlaps with the military’s 2011-2020 modernization.

Moscow has been trying to rebuild its armed forces since the 1990s but this didn’t begin in earnest until the end of President Medvedev’s first and only term. Though some sources claim 2008–the same year when Russian tanks almost overran Georgia–marked the true beginning of the Putin-era’s attempt at full-scale rearmament, the changes from 2011 onward were indeed impressive, if sometimes baffling.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For June 2017

June 12, 2017

This month’s OEWatch marks the publication’s departure from the Foreign Military Studies Office as it migrated to the All Partners Access Network or APAN. The network allows US government employees to share and collect data on strategic issues. In other words, it’s social media for public intelligence.

All previous issues of OEWatch and its vast digital library are now on APAN.

The cover of the June issue is about the Special Essay titled Trends In The Turkish Military Industry authored by Karen Kaya. This month’s OEWatch is 54 pages long and is divided among six sections, with the Special Essay featured at the end. In what appears to be a first, the Asia-Pacific and Russia, Ukraine sections are almost tied with the same page count.

Editorial duties are shared between Tom Wilhelm and Karen Kaya, with design handled by Lucas Winter.

The Middle East, North Africa section launches this issue with a collection of updates on the region’s ongoing wars–Syria, Iraq, Yemen. It’s apparent that Iran now commands the brunt of coverage, with Turkey a close second, as its various activities are scrutinized across six different entries.

The Africa section is a featherweight this month, with just two entries directly addressing active conflicts (Somalia and Nigeria), while more attention is directed at country-specific local politics. Even the disappointing update on South Sudan’s civil war isn’t concerned with battlefield matters. An interesting read is found on page 19 though, as it discusses the continuing threat posed by malaria to the continent.

The Latin America section is remarkable for its intense focus on criminal activity and local politics. This suggests the continent harbors no serious threat to the US.

The opposite is found in the Asia-Pacific section, whose breadth is a welcome treat for longtime OEWatch readers. There’s further proof of the Philippines’ coziness with China on page 27. It’s an awkward relationship further made unseemly by the open US assistance provided to Filipino soldiers in its ongoing war against ISIS-linked militants.

Another useful insight are blossoming military ties between Thailand and China. The partnership has reached a point where the latter is helping establish an unspecified “arms factory” whose activities are speculated upon on page 28. There’s a lengthy analysis of China’s Belt and Road project from page 30 to 31. Emerging PLA capabilities are discussed on pages 32 and 33. Security concerns in the Southern Philippines and its waters wrap up the section.

The Central Asia, Caucasus section offers little excitement and, as usual, is overshadowed by the heftier portions occupying Russia, Ukraine.

The Special Essay on pages 50-54 give a superb overview of the different projects being undertaken by the Turkish armed forces and its partners in the manufacturing sector. Karen Kaya’s writing here deserves a place in any reading list about Middle Eastern and Central Asian security issues and shares a lot of valuable details on various domestic programs. Simply put, no other NATO member is refurbishing its armed forces on the same scale as Turkey.

OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download copies to find what’s most relevant to their curiosity.

Armored Cars: Ukrainian Armor Varta

June 6, 2017

The Varta is a new armored truck manufactured in Ukraine. Its product literature insists it’s built to NATO standards. Appearance-wise, however, it conforms to the prevailing trends for large wheeled transports. It’s tall, broad, and outlined by sharp angles. Truth be told, its generic looks could leave it mistaken for the competition. It’s best to simply ascertain the “Varta” logo on the cusp of its hood, just above the automatic towing winch.

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The Biggest Arms Show In Israel Begins This Week

June 6, 2017

Via ISDEF.

Thousands will be crowding into the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center from June 6 until 8 for ISDEF 2017. Held every two years, the prestigious homeland security exhibition is a highlight of its host country’s prestige in the global arms business and a magnet for prospective customers.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for ISDEF 2017.

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Saudi Arabia Just Launched Its Military-Industrial Complex

June 3, 2017

Riyadh made good on its plans to establish a domestic arms industry with the formation of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI). The new enterprise, which is organized as a vast state-owned conglomerate, was announced on May 18 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) that controls nearly a trillion dollars in capital siphoned from the absolute monarchy’s oil exports.

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The Indian Navy Wants Four Massive Amphibious Assault Ships

May 30, 2017

India’s defense ministry is laying the groundwork for a marine contingent that will bring Delhi’s hard power to the far corners of the globe. In May the ministry’s Defense Acquisition Council announced two firms, Reliance Defense and Engineering Ltd. and Larsen & Toubro, were each qualified in an ongoing vetting process for the construction of four amphibious assault ships.

The two firms are expected to submit fresh proposals for the contract in a clear sign of growing cooperation between India’s arms industry and the private sector.

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Turkey And Pakistan Have Multiple Arms Deals In the Works

May 23, 2017

A growing military-technological alliance between Islamabad and Ankara reached a new benchmark this month. In what amounts to a marketing coup, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is now finalizing a deal with Pakistan for a batch of its T129 ATAK gunships.

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Inside The Chinese Arms Package To The Philippines

May 19, 2017

One of Asia’s largest defense contractors might be finalizing a hefty arms deal with the Philippines. Though details remains scarce it was reported that during the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing members of Poly Technologies, a military-industrial conglomerate, discussed the matter with President Duterte, who’s made it a personal mission to establish a lasting alliance with Beijing.

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Armored Cars: Nurol Makina NMS

May 17, 2017

Having decades of manufacturing expertise under its belt, Nurol Makina used the recent IDEF 2017 to debut its latest attempt at cornering the tactical vehicles market. It’s a surprise move that reinforces Turkey’s reputation as a clearing house for armored vehicles of whatever variety.

The brand new NMS was unveiled with much fanfare to the press in a commodious exhibit crowded with other armored trucks. But the NMS is different–because it’s meant to fulfill the role once occupied by Humvees and Land Rovers.

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The Drone Index: Harbin BZK-005

May 16, 2017

It’s isn’t hyperbole to acknowledge China’s stature as Asia’s reigning drone power. For perspective, consider how its neighbors, including India, Japan, and Russia, are hard-pressed at deploying UAVs on the same scale and level of sophistication.

The mysterious BZK-005 is a perfect example of Beijing’s commitment to governing its airspace. It’s one of the largest unmanned reconnaissance aircraft flown outside the US even if its true capabilities are still guesstimates at best. The BZK-005 is recognizable for its large air frame and swept wings. A prominent nose blister houses its navigational software and avionics. Underneath is a familiar optronic “eyeball” gimbal. The unspecified propeller engine is located between the tail sections.

The BZK-005 follows a conventional twin-boom layout and is identified as a MALE UAV whose characteristics are–for lack of a better word–extraordinary. It’s worth contemplating whether its origins can be traced to cutting-edge research or, like another Chinese drone, the shadowy influence of an understated technology partner.

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Turkey Is Ready To Export Chinese Ballistic Missiles

May 12, 2017

Roketsan put on a lavish display at IDEF 2017. Its usual assembly of dumb and smart ordnance did have a rare inclusion, however: the Khan, or Bora Kaan, tactical ballistic missile.

The Khan/Kaan is the most advanced battlefield asset developed by a Turkish manufacturer so far. But it’s also a bit of a question mark. It’s deployed by an 8×8 transporter mounting two cells containing one 610mm missile each. Earlier in 2017 Roketsan brought the Khan to Abu Dhabi for the IDEX arms show. Its growing exposure suggests a dedicated effort at finding a buyer insecure enough to acquire a critical product that Roketsan doesn’t even advertise on its own website.

But how did Turkey end up with a ballistic missile of its own?

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The Moscow V-Day Parade Skipped The Flyover

May 11, 2017

You can ignore the short read and watch it [again] upstairs.

Keeping tab on annual military parades is the most convenient way to learn about a country’s armed forces. Besides, as a showcase of old school nationalism and a not-so-subtle boost for a leader’s ego, they compel their organizers and participants to rock out with their cocks out.

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