Skip to content

Armored Cars: Plasan SandCat

June 27, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The SandCat’s origins go back more than a decade ago when it was shown to prospective customers as a lightweight multirole armored 4×4. While not the earliest example of a “modular” truck, the vehicle that emerged from 2005 to 2006 represented a tailored performance-centric approach for a military’s tough wheeled transports.

If the SandCat looks too familiar this is because it’s a Ford F-series pickup with a customized shell. While not a novel idea its creator, Plasan, certainly brought it to new heights with a truck they claim can do almost any job. With years of providing “armor solutions” and maintenance for military motor pools, Plasan’s original Caracal was a serious attempt at branding a vehicle of its own.

Read more…


St. Petersburg Is Hosting The Biggest Naval Arms Show In Russia

June 27, 2017

The eighth International Maritime Defense Show or IMDS begins tomorrow, June 28, and spans the rest of the week.

IMDS is held every two years and takes place at Lenexpo, a seaside complex and event space. This latest installment brings together Russia’s maritime sector under a single roof and is a rare occasion for the rest of the world to behold advanced naval technology developed outside Western Europe.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for IMDS 2017.

Read more…

Inside The 2017 Pentagon China Report

June 26, 2017

One of the best surveys on China’s growing might comes from the Pentagon’s annual Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, also known as the China Military Power Report. Often running several dozen pages the non-alarmist yet detailed writing gives the reader a frank assessment of how the PLA keeps getting better. While it’s true the PLA does lag behind the US military in many areas, China today can aford to close the gap little by little.

Nearly 20 years since the PLA commenced its multifaceted overhaul for each of its branches–a broad effort that was supposed to negate the US’ presence in the Western Pacific–and the results are jarring. This year’s Pentagon report pores over every facet of the growing menace, combining facts-heavy text and useful graphics. Remarkable examples of the latter are found on pages 23, 27, and 30 where headquarters and bases for the PLA ground, naval, and air forces are pinpointed on a map of China.

Read more…

The F-16 Could Soon Be Made In India

June 25, 2017

On June 19 Lockheed Martin announced a partnership with India’s Tata conglomerate for licensed F-16 Block 70 manufacturing. Details of the agreement with Tata Advanced Systems Limited were scarce except for a glowing press release. The breakthrough was hyped some more at the Paris Air Show the following day and it was suggested the long-term goal is helping Tata become a hub for global F-16 sales and supplies.

Read more…

Russian Rearmament Will Last Until 2025

June 20, 2017

This year marked the official rubber stamping of Moscow’s next rearmament program. The timetable and its goals, which span improvements in nuclear forces, smart weapons, and air defense, are supposed to extend the scope of the earlier effort that was menaced by dwindling government revenue.

The new “state program of armaments” is scheduled from 2018 till 2025. This overlaps with the military’s 2011-2020 modernization.

Moscow has been trying to rebuild its armed forces since the 1990s but this didn’t begin in earnest until the end of President Medvedev’s first and only term. Though some sources claim 2008–the same year when Russian tanks almost overran Georgia–marked the true beginning of the Putin-era’s attempt at full-scale rearmament, the changes from 2011 onward were indeed impressive, if sometimes baffling.

Read more…

Highlights Of OEWatch For June 2017

June 12, 2017

This month’s OEWatch marks the publication’s departure from the Foreign Military Studies Office as it migrated to the All Partners Access Network or APAN. The network allows US government employees to share and collect data on strategic issues. In other words, it’s social media for public intelligence.

All previous issues of OEWatch and its vast digital library are now on APAN.

The cover of the June issue is about the Special Essay titled Trends In The Turkish Military Industry authored by Karen Kaya. This month’s OEWatch is 54 pages long and is divided among six sections, with the Special Essay featured at the end. In what appears to be a first, the Asia-Pacific and Russia, Ukraine sections are almost tied with the same page count.

Editorial duties are shared between Tom Wilhelm and Karen Kaya, with design handled by Lucas Winter.

The Middle East, North Africa section launches this issue with a collection of updates on the region’s ongoing wars–Syria, Iraq, Yemen. It’s apparent that Iran now commands the brunt of coverage, with Turkey a close second, as its various activities are scrutinized across six different entries.

The Africa section is a featherweight this month, with just two entries directly addressing active conflicts (Somalia and Nigeria), while more attention is directed at country-specific local politics. Even the disappointing update on South Sudan’s civil war isn’t concerned with battlefield matters. An interesting read is found on page 19 though, as it discusses the continuing threat posed by malaria to the continent.

The Latin America section is remarkable for its intense focus on criminal activity and local politics. This suggests the continent harbors no serious threat to the US.

The opposite is found in the Asia-Pacific section, whose breadth is a welcome treat for longtime OEWatch readers. There’s further proof of the Philippines’ coziness with China on page 27. It’s an awkward relationship further made unseemly by the open US assistance provided to Filipino soldiers in its ongoing war against ISIS-linked militants.

Another useful insight are blossoming military ties between Thailand and China. The partnership has reached a point where the latter is helping establish an unspecified “arms factory” whose activities are speculated upon on page 28. There’s a lengthy analysis of China’s Belt and Road project from page 30 to 31. Emerging PLA capabilities are discussed on pages 32 and 33. Security concerns in the Southern Philippines and its waters wrap up the section.

The Central Asia, Caucasus section offers little excitement and, as usual, is overshadowed by the heftier portions occupying Russia, Ukraine.

The Special Essay on pages 50-54 give a superb overview of the different projects being undertaken by the Turkish armed forces and its partners in the manufacturing sector. Karen Kaya’s writing here deserves a place in any reading list about Middle Eastern and Central Asian security issues and shares a lot of valuable details on various domestic programs. Simply put, no other NATO member is refurbishing its armed forces on the same scale as Turkey.

OEWatch often runs several dozen stories in a single issue. Readers should download copies to find what’s most relevant to their curiosity.

Armored Cars: Ukrainian Armor Varta

June 6, 2017

The Varta is a new armored truck manufactured in Ukraine. Its product literature insists it’s built to NATO standards. Appearance-wise, however, it conforms to the prevailing trends for large wheeled transports. It’s tall, broad, and outlined by sharp angles. Truth be told, its generic looks could leave it mistaken for the competition. It’s best to simply ascertain the “Varta” logo on the cusp of its hood, just above the automatic towing winch.

Read more…

The Biggest Arms Show In Israel Begins This Week

June 6, 2017


Thousands will be crowding into the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center from June 6 until 8 for ISDEF 2017. Held every two years, the prestigious homeland security exhibition is a highlight of its host country’s prestige in the global arms business and a magnet for prospective customers.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for ISDEF 2017.

Read more…

Saudi Arabia Just Launched Its Military-Industrial Complex

June 3, 2017

Riyadh made good on its plans to establish a domestic arms industry with the formation of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI). The new enterprise, which is organized as a vast state-owned conglomerate, was announced on May 18 by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) that controls nearly a trillion dollars in capital siphoned from the absolute monarchy’s oil exports.

Read more…

The Indian Navy Wants Four Massive Amphibious Assault Ships

May 30, 2017

India’s defense ministry is laying the groundwork for a marine contingent that will bring Delhi’s hard power to the far corners of the globe. In May the ministry’s Defense Acquisition Council announced two firms, Reliance Defense and Engineering Ltd. and Larsen & Toubro, were each qualified in an ongoing vetting process for the construction of four amphibious assault ships.

The two firms are expected to submit fresh proposals for the contract in a clear sign of growing cooperation between India’s arms industry and the private sector.

Read more…

Turkey And Pakistan Have Multiple Arms Deals In the Works

May 23, 2017

A growing military-technological alliance between Islamabad and Ankara reached a new benchmark this month. In what amounts to a marketing coup, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is now finalizing a deal with Pakistan for a batch of its T129 ATAK gunships.

Read more…

Inside The Chinese Arms Package To The Philippines

May 19, 2017

One of Asia’s largest defense contractors might be finalizing a hefty arms deal with the Philippines. Though details remains scarce it was reported that during the One Belt One Road summit in Beijing members of Poly Technologies, a military-industrial conglomerate, discussed the matter with President Duterte, who’s made it a personal mission to establish a lasting alliance with Beijing.

Read more…