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Who Wants To Buy Chinese Stealth Fighters?

August 9, 2022
Via Chinese social media.

Only three countries (China, Russia, the USA) today are selling genuine stealth fighter jets but the United States is alone enjoys massive profits from exporting the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B. During the Zhuhai Air Show last year, also known as Air Show China, a twin engine model branded as “FC-31” was put on display to mark the achievements of the national aerospace manufacturing sector. Not to be confused with the PLAAF’s J-20, at the time Chinese media claimed the FC-31 was destined for the navy’s aircraft carriers–a very prescient admission as the completed hull of the Fujian was launched in June.

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How To Join The Number One Defense Exports Conference

August 3, 2022
“Defense”-centric conferences and exhibitions are a lot of fun!

The course of global politics in this decade has set the stage for huge leaps in defense expenditures by national governments and the alliance networks they belong to. This makes industry events all the more urgent such as the 16th Defense Exports Conference happening in London this September. The two-day conference held from September 13 until 14 involves government speakers and senior international trade compliance professionals who will discuss regulation controls including ITAR, EAR, ECR, Dual-Use and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Registration is now open for professionals who want to join the leading event in its category. 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for the 16th Annual Defense Exports Conference.

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The Chinese Navy Keeps Growing

July 30, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

The PLAN is now poised to receive the largest warship in Asia and the first aircraft carrier with an electro-magnetic launch system made in Asia. To be clear, the Indian Navy operates one ski-jump carrier (with another on the way) and the Japanese naval branch have Izumo-class “destroyers” whose flight decks are suited for vertical take off fighter aircraft such as the US-made F-35B. On June 17 the completed hull of the ship that was immediately named the Fujian–its smaller predecessors are Liaoning and Shandong–was launched in a spectacular ceremony. It’s important to make the distinction between a launch and a commissioning; a launch is when construction of the hull is finished but once the Fujian is handed over to the PLAN in a few year’s time, it undergoes a commissioning that starts its service in the branch.

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Iran Dreams Of Naval Power

July 24, 2022
Via Iranian media.

This month saw the latest demonstration of the Islamic Republic’s sea power albeit in a curious exercise. At least three ships and a diesel-electric submarine sailed together and launched various drones. The occasion brought fresh evidence of the new vertical take off models now in service with the naval branch. (The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC have their own naval drone inventory, most of them fixed wing.) A surprising addition was a landing craft employed for launching combat drones–these included at least one surveillance drone, the Arash loitering munition, the Ababil drone, and the jet-powered Karrar.

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South Korea Can Export The Raybolt (Almost) Anywhere

July 22, 2022
Via LIG Nex1/South Korean media.

The value of portable anti-tank missiles can’t be ignored and the trend lines are racing toward a point where they become universally available in excessive quantities. Although the emergence of craft-made low tech missiles made from commercially available parts is still some years off when it comes to fire-and-forget ATGMs options are aplenty. A struggling newcomer is the AT-1K Raybolt, the “mid-range infantry missile” made by LIG Nex1, that is comparable to the Lockheed Martin/Raytheon FGM-148 Javelin in its appearance and operation. To date exports abroad are scarce, except for a Middle Eastern buyer who distributed them in Yemen, but customers might be scrambling for it soon.

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Azerbaijan Takes Care Of Its Big Tank Fleet

July 19, 2022
Via Azerbaijan defense ministry.

Fresh propaganda released by the defense ministry showed a bustling maintenance and repair plant in the capital Baku. This is the most up to date proof yet of the country having a substantial industrial sector for supporting the armed forces. According to the defense ministry this location was activated in 1992 and is equipped for overhauling artillery, tanks, rocket artillery, and all types of vehicles. In the footage it shared a row of disassembled T-72 tanks occupied the facility. Azerbaijan’s ground force operate the T-72 and T-72B1 along with old T-55’s and more advanced T-90S’.

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Cheap Chinese Assault Rifles Are Made In Algeria

July 7, 2022
Via Algerian state media.

More than half a century since China lent its full diplomatic and material support for African nationalists its weaponry remains popular across the continent. One of the biggest customers is Algeria whose armed forces are lavished with funds diverted from oil and gas revenues. But during a recent military parade to mark 60 years since independence it became apparent its soldiers are issued with the most basic, even completely outdated, assault rifle supplied by China. It turns out a state-owned factory called the Mechanical Construction Establishment of Khenchela has been mass-producing Type 56 and Type 56-1 assault rifles since the 1990s.

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Iranian Missiles Come In All Sizes

July 5, 2022
Two Heydar-1 missiles are displayed below a Fotros combat drone. Via Iranian media.

In late May footage of a sizable underground facility showed the latest armaments produced for the Islamic Republic’s always growing combat drone fleet. These include the “Heydar-1” air-launched missile and its larger variant the “Heydar-2” that has a small jet engine underneath is fuselage. By its appearance alone the Heydar-2 is an outsized loitering munition designed to hit targets at extreme ranges. There’s now sufficient evidence all branches of Iran’s military have underground facilities for storing various war material and the contents of these locations are becoming more diverse.

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The HJ-73 Is Never Quitting The PLA

June 25, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

New evidence has revealed, contrary to the hype over its cutting-edge weapon systems, the PLA’s ground force are still training with its oldest portable anti-tank missile–the HJ-73. The Chinese analogue to the Soviet vintage Malyutka (NATO designation is “AT-3 Sagger”) is at least 50 years old by now and boasts few noticeable improvements aside from a redesigned warhead and a portable laser rangefinder that’s operated separately from the launcher supporting the small missile. The current variant of the HJ-73 with a dual warhead penetrates tank armor at least 400mm thick but at ranges far below its 3,000 meter or 3 kilometer maximum envelope.

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Endless War Made The Bayraktar TB2 World Famous

June 21, 2022
Via Baykar.

It must be the decade’s biggest publicity coup in global aerospace, never mind if it’s only the first half of a difficult 2022, and comes from a manufacturer that was little known just 10 years ago. But with the international outpouring of support for Ukraine in its existential war against a full-scale Russian invasion Baykar’s best-selling combat drone is once again front and center. This time a crowdfunding drive in Lithuania proved so successful–the money was being raised to purchase a Bayraktar TB2–that Baykar not only acknowledged the effort but arranged a donation: it will deliver a Bayraktar TB2 to Lithuania free of charge while the actual funds raised are donated to humanitarian organizations in Ukraine.

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Tajikistan Bought So Many Chinese Armored Vehicles

June 10, 2022
VN3 armored trucks supplied to Tajikistan. Via Tajikistan media.

In the last decade sufficient evidence has surfaced proving that China has the clout and resources to outshine any “Great Power” vying for influence over Central Asia. An inarguable metric to assess this transition are arms sales and transfers of military kit. By comparison, after its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 the US is no longer obligated to help protect vulnerable countries in the region; it’s no biggie, since China can fill the void and appears to be doing so. This doesn’t involve excessive and wasteful spending, which is how the US propped up a feeble government in Kabul for twenty years, but has a focus on covering the equipment shortages in small neighboring militaries.

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The Chunmoo Is Elite Rocket Artillery

June 5, 2022
Via South Korean media.

Some of the most potent weapon systems in the global commerce for armaments are made in South Korea. Since the 2010s there’s been a persistent effort by Seoul, through its own diplomacy and full support behind its chaebols, to win large deals in Asia and Europe. Results have been encouraging, if sometimes mixed, as South Korean manufacturers won some high profile contracts. However, the quality of South Korean military products is beyond reproach and this is apparent in the mobile rocket launcher called the K239 Chunmoo from Hanwha Defense.

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