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Armored Cars: IAI RAM Mk3

July 25, 2017

This unusual truck from Israel really belongs to a class of its own. The RAM is a throwback to a time when the IDF depended so much on mobility for waging war and keeping the peace that it adopted an improvised transport bristling with machine guns.

The RAM Mk 3 or RAM III is a rare offering from Israel Aerospace Industries, the same state-owned conglomerate that sells cutting edge missiles and advanced UAVs everywhere, as part of its ill-defined ground warfare portfolio. The RAM’s distinctive cab and sloping armor sets it apart from the cumbersome trucks saturating today’s armored vehicle market.

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These Battle Rifles Are Perfect For The Indian Army

July 23, 2017

It’s common knowledge the Indian Army spent years seeking a replacement for their INSAS rifle, a Galil clone that entered service in the 1990s. Almost a quarter century since jawans first took it to battle the army desperately wants a new model chambered for the 7.62x51mm round, the same cartridge as their original FAL’s from the days of Indira Gandhi.

But even the Ordnance Factory Board’s heroic efforts at producing a local alternative were shot down. Disappointing tests conducted on a 7.62mm OFB rifle in June 2017, involving a small arm that still looked like an INSAS, forced the army to dig its heels and open an invitation for prospective alternatives.

Of course, there are no shortage of options and the battle rifle concept is regaining popularity among the world’s militaries, anyway. In early 2017 even the US Army advertised its requirement for a squad level marksman rifle that surpasses their browbeaten M4 carbines. Small arms manufacturers everywhere have anticipated this trend away from NATO’s favorite light cartridge and readied shiny new battle rifles for those who can afford them.

But the Indian Army needs 185,000 battle rifles in the coming years, with a million to go until the 2030s. That’s more than anyone else. The prospective candidates aren’t too many but what they have to offer–weapons suited for the 7.62x51mm round–should meet India’s standards. If not, what will?

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Iraq Is The Latest Customer Of The T-90S

July 22, 2017

Not a T-90S but a T-72M. Via Mahmud Saleh.

Russian media confirmed the sale of an estimated 73 T-90S and SK tanks to Iraq in a new but previously undisclosed arms deal. It was a Kremlin official named Vladimir Kozhin who acknowledged the transaction to Izvestiya. His statements prove earlier claims that a public report from Uralvagonzavod listed upcoming deliveries to both Vietnam and Iraq.

The sale of the T-90S and its command tank variant, the T-90SK, is a return to form for the Iraqi Army, whose experience with Soviet T-series tanks began in the 1970s. The T-90S is the most advanced MBT for export by Russia and is popular among operators with previous experience driving and fighting with its ancestor, the T-72.

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The South Korean T-50 Trainer Wins In Southeast Asia

July 21, 2017

Thailand is the latest customer for Korea Aerospace Industries‘ impressive light attack jet. Though often recognized as a trainer the FA-50 variant of the original T-50 Golden Eagle earned valuable combat experience performing close air support in the Southern Philippines.

On July 11 the Thai government announced a further acquisition of eight T-50’s to augment four ordered in 2015. The eight T-50’s cost a total of $258 million that will be paid via yearly tranches until 2019. This gives the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) a dozen new trainer-light attack aircraft by the 2020s with ample leeway for additional orders.

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The Philippine Military Has A Dozen New 155mm Howitzers

July 19, 2017

A batch of Soltam M-71 155mm towed howitzers were delivered to the Philippines in mid-2017. They came on separate dates; three were received on June 8 and nine more followed on July 14. This howitzer acquisition fulfills an order dating to 2015 and is part of a longstanding modernization plan for the Philippine Army and Marine Corps. Each branch will be assigned a battery of the howitzers made by Israel’s Elbit Systems.

The 12 new 155mm towed howitzers along with a supply of high explosive shells are a welcome addition to the existing artillery used by the country’s armed forces. The bulk of these consist of portable mortars and light howitzers such as the  World War Two vintage 105mm M101. The Philippine Army in particular is a keen user of fire support during operations against Muslim secessionists.

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Indonesia Joins The South China Sea Fray

July 18, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

On July 14 an Indonesian official presented a new map to a collection of journalists. The geography and appearance of Southeast Asia’s reigning giant hadn’t changed but it did have new borders. According to Arif Havas Oegroseno of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs the open sea surrounding the remote Natuna Islands is now irrevocably Jakarta’s domain.

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Armored Cars: KMW Fennek Spähwagen

July 18, 2017

At first glance the Fennek, or Desert Fox, looks like a superb all-terrain vehicle for any environment–and it is. But when it entered service in 2003 with the armies of Germany and the Netherlands it was ordained to fulfill a very specific role.

Conceived as a private venture by a Dutch engineering firm, what became the Fennek was picked up by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and marketed as a high tech scout vehicle with a reduced noise signature.  Light enough for air transport, the 11 ton Fennek proved a very tough cookie with NATO troops in Afghanistan, where it endured the heat and dust while absorbing its fair share of damage.

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The India, Japan, US Alliance Blossomed In Malabar 2017

July 17, 2017

One of the largest joint naval exercises in the world took place during the past week. Malabar 2017 saw ships from the Indian, Japanese, and US navies conduct drills over a 10 day period, from July 7 to 17, in the Bay of Bengal. The scope of the exercises were seen as a concerted effort to anticipate a future showdown against China over sea lanes.

Although the PLAN and its capabilities were never officially brought up for the duration of this year’s Malabar, with officers from both Indian and US navies insisting their activities weren’t “aimed at China,” the focus on anti-submarine warfare did suggest who the imagined adversary was. Only two other countries can deploy submarines in the Indian Ocean–these are Iran and Pakistan–but neither can challenge India’s dominance either above or under water.

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Turkey Is Paying Billions For The Russian S-400

July 16, 2017

Via Kirill Kallinikov.

After almost a year of negotiations Ankara has agreed to pay $2.5 billion for the S-400 Triumf. The Russian air defense system is considered one of the most advanced in the world and this deal marks a breakthrough between the former rivals.

Though it may appear surprising a staunch NATO ally is buying an advanced weapon system from Russia, this isn’t too controversial in light of Ankara’s coziness with Chinese military technology for its own ballistic missile program. The Turks have never hesitated seeking alternatives to whatever NATO can’t provide.

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Vietnam Wants To Buy T-90S Tanks

July 15, 2017

The Vietnamese government is believed to have ordered an undisclosed number of T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod. This recently came to light after years of speculation whether the Southeast Asian country is once again boosting its ground forces.

News of the buy hasn’t been corroborated by enough sources, or even Vietnamese media, but an investor report from the Russian armored vehicle manufacturer is cited as proof that 64 T-90S tanks were scheduled for delivery to an Asian client. This was first revealed by the press agency Tass citing a document where separate orders of T-90S and T-90SK tanks were assigned to country codes for Vietnam and Iraq.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For July 2017

July 14, 2017

This issue of OEWatch features a Russian combat robot on its cover to accompany the headline Russian Advances In Military Technology. July’s OEWatch runs 53 pages and is divided between six sections, with Russia, Ukraine being the longest. It’s available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

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China And Belarus Are Forging A Military Alliance

July 13, 2017

Via Xinhua/MND.

A small contingent of Chinese paramilitaries arrived in Belarus this week for joint exercises with their counterparts from the host country. United Shield 2017 brings together members of the People’s Armed Police Force and the Belarusian Interior Ministry. Both organizations are trained and equipped for suppressing revolts.

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