Arms shows are a useful gauge of a country’s preoccupations. If the recent IDEAS 2016 held at the Karachi Expo Center from November 22 until 25 had a single and definitive theme it would be the smoldering dalliance between Pakistan and Turkey. As a matter of fact, Turkish companies–all 19 of them–occupied the largest pavilion during the show. China was a second placer at just 14 exhibiting companies.
As throngs of visitors made their way inside the Karachi Expo Center for IDEAS 2016 (November 22 to 25), the largest arms show in Pakistan, they were greeted by armored vehicles on static display at the main entrance. These included the Al Khalid, Pakistan’s first indigenous main battle tank and arguably the best of its kind in the region.
21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for IDEAS 2016.
Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief featuring excerpts of news about ongoing wars and crises. These snippets gathered from various media outlets are accompanied by informed commentary that’s strong on context and analysis.
The FMSO releases OEWatch, together with its vast library of research papers on geopolitical issues, as free downloads.
It’s not surprising to learn South African companies are still making waves in the armored vehicles market. After all, it’s the cradle of the first mine-resistant trucks and when US forces were caught in their Iraqi quagmire the startup called Integrated Convoy Protection heeded the call. The company was founded by a group of former South Africa National Defense Force (SANDF) veterans whose collective backgrounds influenced a product whose best traits are an appealing price point and battlefield ruggedness.
Since then ICP have grown to a formidable player in the arms industry with more of its REVA vehicles in active war zones than the competition from Europe. Its most popular model is the middleweight REVA III. At just nine metric tons it’s considerably lighter than its peers; an advantageous feature when it’s driven over third world roads and highways that would crumble beneath whales like the Kirpi, for example.
This year’s Airshow China, also known as the Zhuhai Air Show, distinguished itself for overt martial displays that seemed to mix Farnborough with Eurosatory. Not only were China’s latest fighter jets, including the fifth-generation J-20, soaring above the venue but an inordinate amount of hardware from state-owned defense contractors outshone the civilian exhibitors for almost a week in sun-drenched Guangdong.
The Zhuhai Air Show, by the way, is a venue for international (civilian) aerospace firms wanting to do business in China.
Just as Norinco and Poly Technologies indulged their products with vehicles either brooding in static display or running obstacle courses, another class of weapon systems were debuted with gravitas fit for their roles. These were armed long-range UAVs that, judging by their appearances, could make a difference on the world stage sooner rather than later.
Last week the Times of Israel reported an alleged sale of an Iron Dome battery to Azerbaijan. Citing a Hebrew news site and unspecified Azeri media as its source without further attribution, the short article from the Times did admit the sale couldn’t be independently confirmed.
For Israel’s famous missile defense system to be purchased by Azerbaijan isn’t too far-fetched, however. The Caspian oil state ruled by President Ilham Aliyev has spent years splurging on arms from regional suppliers, including Israel, a generous merchant of drones, artillery, and missiles to their wealthy patron in Baku.
Officers and suits are trooping back to the Czech capital this week for Combat Engineer. As its name reveals the conference from November 1 to 3 is devoted to structures, logistics, and built environments for military operations. The event organizer, The Development Network UK (TDNUK), have waived registration fees at the venue–the Prague Marriott–for “all serving military and public sector personnel.”
Now on its third installment Combat Engineer begins with a “Focus Day” devoted to power solutions, i.e. electricity, for NATO and allied installations on deployment. The next two days of the conference proper are filled to the brim with brief sessions hosted by defense ministry types and NATO commanders. On November 2 the focus is on combat engineers’ role in “camp solutions.”
The subject matter on November 3 is about mobility and its relevance to expeditionary forces. The conference ends at 15:15 with a chairman’s summary delivered by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Sir Mark Mans of the British Army’s Royal Engineers.
21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for Combat Engineer.