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The VN20 Is The Largest Combat Vehicle In Asia

December 3, 2022
Via Norinco.

With the prestigious Air Show China exhibition switching from a once-every-two-years to a yearly schedule the volume of coverage and hype for the companies involved is, without being ironic, astronomical. (A full-scale replica of the Tiangong space station was assembled for the indoor venue.) But since 2016 more attention is being paid to the event’s military products than the civil aviation that were once the real focus. The shift was unmistakable in 2021 and this year’s installment, which lasted from November 8 until 12, the military-industrial sector owned the venue to an extreme degree. As usual there are some notable firsts and the multirole combat vehicle from Norinco called the VN20 is among them.

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Iranian Drones Are A Menace Over Ukraine

December 3, 2022
Wreckage of a Geran-2 in Kyiv. Via social media.

What could be the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ukraine as its electricity supply dwindles after relentless airstrikes orchestrated by Russia. Since October 10 waves of cruise missiles and loitering munitions wrecked critical infrastructure and other civilian targets as battlefield reversals forced Russia’s army to retreat across the Dnipro River and consolidate its frontline. But the slow retribution Moscow exacted has taken its toll, with most Ukrainian citizens now rationing their power usage as NATO scrambles to have generators and other humanitarian aid delivered as quickly as possible.

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South Korea Is Working On Its Biggest Arms Deal Ever

November 28, 2022
Via Hanwha Defense.

On September 19 one of South Korea’s largest chaebols–the prestigious conglomerates that dominate the national economy–staged an elaborate review in their factory campus outside Seoul to impress a delegation from Poland. The occasion was meant to kick off a huge arms deal signed in July for several hundred K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers manufactured by Hanwha Defense and are constantly being shopped abroad. Current operators of the K9 in Europe are Estonia, Finland, and Norway while it’s assembled under license in India and Turkiye. Since May this year Warsaw has acted on its plans for building what could be Europe’s largest ground force as a response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

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Ansar Allah Have The Best Iranian Missiles

November 21, 2022
Via Ansar Allah media.

The record of arms trafficking to Yemen during the active conflict from 2015 until this year is quite substantial. But when it came to the external support for Ansar Allah, who control much of the northwest, it was always Iran that never failed at sustaining the organization’s war effort. Since 2019 the military controlled by Ansar Allah–an institution that combines its irregulars with the Saleh-era armed forces–have promoted “self-sufficiency.” When a ceasefire in April extended for months they went farther by orchestrating huge public events. This is how Iranian missiles, renamed and painted over, have finally been identified as a critical part of Ansar Allah’s arsenal.

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The Heavily Armed Wing Loong 3 Is For Export

November 15, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

The recent Air Show China 2022 that lasted from November 8 to 13 at its usual venue in Zhuhai has taken on a militaristic bent. This became unmistakable after the long pause between 2018 and 2021 when the civilian aspect of the show retreated to the background and media coverage over-emphasized the big military-industrial enterprises that were participating. The aerospace giant AVIC even topped its previous outing with a brand new combat drone: the Wing Loong 3 or Wing Loong-3. A stationary model was at the center of its indoor pavilion loaded with missiles and bombs.

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The Philippine Military Is No Longer Obsolete

November 13, 2022
BrahMos cruise missiles in their transporters for Republic Day parade. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Thanks to a carefully planned, albeit slow and tedious, modernization program the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) overturned 30 years of decline and rebuilt its arsenal. In 2021 the Department of National Defense (DND) announced it was finalizing discussions with BrahMos Aerospace for the acquisition of its famous supersonic cruise missiles. The AFP’s decision to purchase the missiles goes back years, as early as 2012 when modernization plans were outlined, and by 2016 the air force and navy had determined the cost-effectiveness of the acquisition. However, it wasn’t until the very last day of 2021 when the DND confirmed it awarded a contract worth $374,962,800 to BrahMos Aerospace for the supply of three batteries, each with three launchers.

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Vietnam Keeps A Huge Artillery Stockpile

November 11, 2022
M-30 howitzers in storage. Via Vietnamese media.

Since its reunification in 1975 huge quantities of conventional weapons have been stored across the country and refurbished for continued use. But it was only in the past decade when evidence of this long-standing effort began to emerge online. What is now revealed in the public domain through state media is an astonishing cycle of repair and maintenance for an inventory most countries would struggle to match. So far, proof of a thriving armaments sector focused on basic infantry equipment is abundant. But what hasn’t received enough attention is another vital aspect of Vietnam’s military preparedness: vintage towed artillery.

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Iran Cannot Stop Making Anti-Aircraft Weapons

November 2, 2022

Four countries are now producing too many anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses: China, India, Iran, and Russia. Of the four Iran is the most persistent in its goal to attain self-sufficiency with multilayered systems. This means it can still rely on some imported parts but the completed weapons are made at home. During the 2010s—a single decade—the IRGC and the regular armed forces embraced as many as 15 new anti-aircraft weapons, nearly all of them are road mobile SAMs. But in late August this year an outdoor exhibition to showcase recent achievements of the military-industrial sector featured a new anti-aircraft system. (Pictured above.) This time it combined the local variety of Sidewinder missiles with a rotary cannon.

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The IAI Carmel Is A Unique Combat Vehicle

November 1, 2022
Via IAI.

Since 2019 three companies have been involved in the development of Israel’s “Carmel.” In 2021 the program was taken over by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) after the defense ministry selected it as the prime contractor. Despite its limited exposure to land systems IAI’s catalog of air defense missiles and drones are rated the best in the world. The Carmel, as conceptualized in different media, subscribes to the ethos of maximal characteristics in firepower, protection, and mobility. Other countries have attempted the same but with mixed results. The introduction of the Carmel is still years away and details about its cutting-edge subsystems, what they are and what they do, are likely to change.

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Russia Is Pouring Loitering Munitions Into Ukraine

October 24, 2022
On September 22 the official media channel for Ukraine’s armed forces published its regular update on aerial kills. For the first time four Geran-2 or “Shahed-136” loitering munitions are counted.

The war reached its turning point in September when the operational momentum swung back to the Ukrainian military’s (AFU) favor. Having pushed Russian forces out of Kharkiv Oblast and crossed the Oskil River a new weapon was introduced against them on a large-scale: a delta wing loitering munition with a 100 pound high explosive warhead more powerful than the defective KUB-BLA. This turned out to be the “Geranium” that Ukraine’s military identified as Iranian Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 loitering munitions acquired during the summer and are now assembled in Russia as the Geran-1 and Geran-2.

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Iran Is Overproducing Ballistic Missiles

October 22, 2022
The Kheybar Shekan in Tehran on September 22. Via Iranian media.

For all its internal problems Iran’s conventional military power continues to grow. A specific niche that enjoys regular media exposure are its missiles–for reasons of prestige and their strategic value–such such as those belonging to the IRGC rocket force. This year saw the introduction of another medium-range missile called the Kheybar Shekan or “Kheibar Shekan”, whose name refers to a historic battle in Islamic history, and a lesser-known counterpart Rezvan. They both appeared at an annual military parade in Tehran on September 22 and the Kheybar Shekan is reported to have a 1,450 kilometer range. The justifications for adding to the IRGC’s existing missile arsenal may not be well understood but the result is a stockpile of the same magnitude as world powers such as China and Russia.

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The Russian BTR-82A Is An Export Success

October 18, 2022
Via Kazakhstan media.

An outdated Soviet vintage wheeled combat vehicle serves as a reliable indicator for Moscow’s friendship circle. A video clip from Kazakhstan’s defense ministry showed police at a checkpoint with a Humvee donated by the US and at least one Russian-made BTR-82A. The latter is a generational improvement of the BTR-80 that saw extensive combat in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) and remains in production. The BTR-82A is recognizable for its large remote controlled turret installed behind the cab where the driver and another crew member are seated. The armament on the BTR-82A combines a 30mm 2A72 cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun.

BTR-82A Operators: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine (captured), Venezuela,

BTR-80A Operators: Indonesia, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Yemen

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