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Is The Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter A Flop?

February 18, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently published analysis of the J-20 may have done irreparable damage to the hype surrounding the twin engine stealth fighter. Often hailed as a peer to the US-made F-22 Raptor, the delta wing-and-canards Chinese stealth fighter is the first of its kind in the world. But ever since it entered service in early 2017 and got its combat readiness approved by the PLAAF this February, troubling new details have cast doubt on its abilities.

Two articles in particular raise some very controversial points about the Chinese air force’s most advanced airframe. According to a bombshell report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the J-20 isn’t even good enough for its anointed role.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For February 2018

February 14, 2018

February’s OEWatch takes after previous issues where the cover features the prevailing topic for the magazine. This month it’s Iran: Foreign Perspectives and an entire section is devoted to the Islamic Republic. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

The latest OEWatch runs 72 pages with seven sections. Contrary to its main Iranian theme, the longest part still falls under Russia, Ukraine.

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Chinese Submarines Are Giving The Bangladesh Navy A Boost

February 12, 2018

Archival photo of a Romeo-class submarine, a vessel that was subsequently copied by Chinese shipyards. Via Wikimedia Commons.

As advanced weapons continue pouring into South Asia one local naval arm just acquired a modest undersea warfare option. Bangladesh, with its confusing borders and sweatshop fueled industrialization, has finally caught up with its embittered neighbors India and Pakistan when it comes to submarines. But in a small way.

When Dhaka commissioned its two Ming-class boats last year these represented an improvement of its maritime firepower. The submarines it got from China are old, however, although enhanced with modernized systems. The regional consequences of having these are far from worrisome.

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India Is Trying To Embrace The ASEAN

February 2, 2018

An Indian Army T-90S MBT.

Last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the annual January 26 Republic Day parade to symbolically welcome the 10 member states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into New Delhi’s geopolitical orbit. But there’s neither a binding covenant nor any firm commitment between South Asia’s upcoming world power and the economic bloc next door.

At the head of the military parade that same morning 10 Indian soldiers each carried an ASEAN country’s flag–those of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The gesture was seen as a bold response to China’s own attempts at cultivating these same states, a strategy that can diffuse the risk of conflict over territorial matters, i.e. the South China Sea.

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Armored Cars: Osprea Mamba Mk. 7

January 29, 2018

Via Osprea Logistics.

The Mamba Mk.7 is the newest incarnation of a prestigious mine-resistant 4×4 lineage from South Africa. Developed from the late 1980s and early 1990s as an intermediary wheeled transport, after a long gestation the Mamba Mk. 3 was finally standardized by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The same model was soon spun off into an export variant by the defense contractor Denel called the RG31, which is now recognized as a different vehicle. As the license for building the Mamba was passed among a handful of companies it still enjoyed persistent demand and established itself as the archetype from which most current MRAPs are patterned after.

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Pakistan Is Looking For A New Main Battle Tank

January 28, 2018

Photos have emerged in recent weeks of the Chinese tank called the “VT4/VT-4” parked in an area believed to be a testing ground for Pakistani armored units. This scant evidence is interpreted as the first phase in a transaction to acquire hundreds of the tanks from Norinco so Pakistan can properly modernize its fleet.

But there’s been persistent chatter since 2016 that Islamabad is more enthusiastic about tanks from either Turkey or Ukraine for its ground forces. Although Pakistan assembles its own third-generation tank, the Al Khalid, with 70% of its parts reportedly supplied by local subcontractors, recent innovations in armor technology have left Heavy Industries Taxila’s (HIT) premier model wanting.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For January 2018

January 26, 2018

The first OEWatch for 2018 arrived later than usual. But it also marks a departure from the magazine’s usual format because of its latest focus. Since the cover text reads Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain nearly a third of its contents fall under a new section that examines how different countries are adopting–and struggling with–the new financial tool. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

Editorial duties are still shared between Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and Lucas Winter with contributing writers assigned to different subject areas. This month’s OEWatch runs 69 pages thick with seven sections and the longest one for the January issue is devoted to crypto topics.

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Turkmenistan Is Obsessed With Protecting Its Afghan Border

January 25, 2018

New information has emerged that offers glimpses into Turkmenistan’s fortifications along its border with Afghanistan. In the beginning of the year President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow convened with his security council and discussed their goals for 2018. The meeting was followed by a personal trip to a “frontier outpost.”

Since then a video clip released by dissident news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan showed Berdimuhamedow at a demonstration by border guard troops. This corroborates reports by state media portraying their leader as a hands on figurehead who is equally adept at dishing out commands as he is with extracurricular activities.

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Kazakhstan And France Are Working On Military Cooperation

January 19, 2018

Even with its economy still recovering from the collapse of oil prices in 2014 Kazakhstan is laying the groundwork for a self-sufficient domestic arms industry that may soon export its wares. In December 2017 the defense minister met with the French ambassador, Philippe Martinet, to sign a “military cooperation agreement.”

There’s nothing out of the ordinary with this latest covenant. Kazakhstan is France’s biggest trade partner in Central Asia and Paris has played a key role helping Astana diversify its economy. When it comes to the armed forces, however, Kazakhstan remains a serious customer of Russian conventional weapons but is slowly building a military-industrial sector with help from several partner countries.

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Uzbekistan Plans To Rebuild Its Military

January 17, 2018

Another Central Asian republic–the most populous among the former Soviet -stans–is undergoing a remarkable transformation. The death of Uzbekistan’s career dictator Islam Karimov in 2016 brought about a smooth handover to a dependable replacement, the Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev. As President, one of Mirziyoyev’s most important projects in 2017 was to restore his country’s armed forces.

The foundations of this effort involve consolidating Uzbekistan’s almost defunct military-industrial sector and buying new stuff from abroad. Another is diplomacy. Short of permanent alliances, Mirziyoyev is making friends with his neighbors and trying to improve relations with China and Russia, the two world powers who can sell him the right weapons. Being able to afford these is another problem. It’s not really surprising Tashkent allocated an astronomical 4% of nominal GDP for the military’s budget this year.

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Armored Cars: Volat Defense MZKT V-1

January 12, 2018

Via Volat Defense.

The MZKT V-1 is a new multirole 4×4 from Belarus. It was unveiled in 2016 and entered service with the Belarusian armed forces the following year. The truck is manufactured by Volat Defense, whose catalog spans various wheeled transports for military use, whether it’s hauling supplies or ballistic missiles.

Background and technical information about the MZKT V-1, alternately known as the MZKT-490100, remains outside the public domain. Like many “tactical” 4×4’s in its niche the MZKT V-1 uses commercial parts but its armor is probably strong enough to survive shrapnel fragments and small arms fire.

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Turkmenistan Is Doubling Down On Domestic Security

January 11, 2018

The most secretive country in Central Asia remains committed to defending itself from unnamed threats. This became clear after President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow met with the State Security Council that’s occupied by ministers responsible for the armed forces and police.

The course of the meeting, as reported by the propaganda site Turkmenistan Today, glossed over the activities undertaken by each department–military, internal affairs, border guards, judicial, customs, and intelligence–in 2017. It appears everyone is doing their job as they should, but how it’s being done is unclear.

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