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North Korea Is All Missiles, Less Tanks

May 18, 2022
Via North Korean media.

This year’s first big parade for the armed forces’ 90th anniversary continued the main themes of its predecessors since late 2020; the emphasis is on advanced weapons and ballistic missiles. It looks like Kim Jong Un is justified in organizing these displays when his military always puts on a lavish show crowded with marching troops and their assorted vehicles. The spectacle on the evening of April 25 was broadcast with dramatic editing, explosive excerpts, and an updated musical score in a clear departure from the usual script. This didn’t spare military equipment that rolled by in columns from observation; some of them were strange to behold like the small trucks carrying eight missile launchers behind their cabs. (Pictured above.)

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Turkey Can Export Bespoke Rocket Artillery

May 14, 2022
Via Roketsan.

In the course of a single decade the state-owned aerospace manufacturer Roketsan built up an impressive catalog for its rocket artillery systems and surface-to-surface missiles. The result is what looks like the best selection of “long-range fires” in the NATO alliance and an arsenal that rivals Iran and Israel’s achievements in the same niche. But Turkey’s ground forces can only operate a specific number of rocket artillery systems and exports have been modest rather than highly profitable. It has now come to light that Roketsan repackaged the catalog it worked so hard to establish for potential sales abroad.

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The Kurganets-25 Is Fully Unemployed

May 12, 2022
Via Russian media.

As its war on Ukraine devolves into an ugly stalemate the army’s enormous fleet of mechanized transports are being laid to waste in astonishing numbers. But these are, on average, 40-year-old models such as the BMP-1 and BMP-2. For the annual May 9 victory parade held in Red Square the cream of Russia’s military technology returned for another impeccable performance even when fewer vehicles participated this year. Among the tracked cohort categorized as infantry fighting vehicles or IFVs the Kurganets-25 is by far the largest and most lethal ever presented to the ground forces. Except it’s still not in service.

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South Korea Wants Customers For Its Boramae

May 8, 2022
Via Wikimedia Commons.

After its heavily promoted revival last year Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is eager to find customers for its twin engine stealthy fighter jet that can reach speeds of Mach 2.3 and perform teaming missions with drones. Although nowhere near as sophisticated as the US-made F-22 the KF-21 Boramae’s success in the coming years will determine South Korea’s ranking in global aerospace the same way consumer electronics and shipbuilding became prestigious sectors of the national economy. Time is of the essence as the competition is daunting–Lockheed Martin’s F-35A/B will enjoy very strong exports to Asia this decade–and funds must be shared between the South Korean government agencies involved and, possibly, a foreign benefactor.

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The Drone Index: AVIC Cloud Shadow

May 6, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

It’s no longer surprising how China’s aerospace manufacturers offer some of the most sophisticated combat drones ever assembled. Unencumbered by export controls and transparency there are almost no barriers for countries in whatever part of the world to scale up their air power by acquiring UAVs such as the Cloud Shadow. Since it was first displayed at a Middle Eastern arms show in 2017 this specific model represents the bleeding edge in its class of jet-powered multirole combat drones.

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The Philippine Army Wants More Rocket Artillery

May 3, 2022
Via Wikimedia Commons.

Large caliber rocket artillery is the next big acquisition of the ground forces now that its self-propelled 155mm howitzer battalion is operational. Although specifics are hazy the ADAS 2022 arms show from April 27 to 29 served as a rare public event for the military. The Philippine Army in particular have medium-term plans for adding to the batch of donated South Korea-made Kooryong rocket artillery systems with a more contemporary launcher. During ADAS 2022 stock images on tarpaulins used by the army and the Government Arsenal, a state-owned munitions factory, showed the US-made HIMARS but there are no credible indicators its purchase is underway.

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Turkey Is Creating A Better Somali Army

May 1, 2022
Via Somali media.

Decades of turmoil left Somalia at bottom place in most indicators for development. A formal economy is almost non-existent and the population is on the verge of famine due to climate risks. But a rare success is emerging within the feeble government thanks to the persistence of Turkey. Critical institutions needed for the survival of the state, such as the military and civil service, are now becoming stronger as Ankara lays a new foundation for a country whose location is vital to global trade. The results are most apparent in the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF) whose soldiers now carry MPT-76 battle rifles.

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Iran Has Another New Air-To-Ground Missile

April 30, 2022
The new missile is highlighted in a purple box. Via Iranian media.

Each year, on April 18, the various branches of Iran’s regular armed forces perform elaborate demonstrations for their special holiday. A lot of antiquated and familiar hardware gets shown to the public although newer systems are revealed as well. Iranian media does its part with some glowing coverage but, surprisingly, a new missile seems to have eluded journalistic inquiry despite its appearance in multiple photos. The unnamed air-to-ground munition was spotted among a flight of Cobra gunships that conducted a flyover at the venue where the usual crowded Army Day parade took place.

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China Is Donating Military Equipment To Somalia

April 27, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

The gradual establishment of a viable state in the troubled country remains a work in progress. But with the US having scaled down its role helping Mogadishu contain the terrorist group Al Shabaab, which controls territory in the south and southwest, other international allies have stepped in to help. Since 2011 Turkey has gone above and beyond to ensure the government remains functional and even runs a long-term program for training civil servants, law enforcement, and soldiers. But China is also restoring its ties with Somalia using established methods: generous security assistance.

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The Pakistan Army Is Loyal To Its Very Old APCs

April 26, 2022

As the country’s armed forces proceed with a remarkable transformation of all its branches–an effort willingly assisted by China–there’s still inventory that resists obsolescence. During last month’s annual Republic Day parade the army in particular carried the event with an impeccable display of its arsenal. But an unmistakable fixture were the M113A2 APCs and their local variants that represent the branch’s mechanized workhorse. Some estimates reveal there are more than 1,000 in service with the army although this figure is likely a gross underestimation. Thanks to an active production line in the state-owned Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) these reliable tracked APCs can be assembled en masse as long as they’re needed.

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Iranian Combat Drone Production Is Non-Stop

April 24, 2022
Via Iranian media.

At a military parade in Tehran last week the country’s regular armed forces showed off their equipment such as the latest unmanned aircraft that are entering service. An unexpected model was the “Ababil-5” or “Ababil 5” that’s supposed to be the most recent addition in a storied drone lineage. These combat UAVs arrived in two variants at the parade–a twin-boom with four munitions under its wings and another twin-boom carrying six munitions under its wings. A strange detail about the Ababil-5 is its larger variant (pictured above) was on public display in its yellowish anti-rust coating. This is one of the last stages in aircraft assembly where the airframe and its appendages are given a weather resistant finish before they’re painted.

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North Korea Keeps Making Tactical Missiles

April 22, 2022
Via North Korean media.

Another road mobile launcher and its munition was tested last week in what is now a regular pattern of demonstrations attended by Kim Jong Un. On April 17 the “new-type tactical guided weapon” as described by North Korean propaganda sent a projectile toward a rocky islet in a coastal area known for artillery exercises. The “tactical guided weapon” as seen on photographs is a short-range ballistic missile whose appearance is comparable to the US-made ATACMS. An interesting detail is the transporter was a new type of vehicle that probably used an 6×6 chassis to support the rectangular launchers on its bed.

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