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ATTN CENTCOM: Iran Built Its Own Iraqi Army

July 24, 2021
A Shia militiaman standing behind a Toophan ATGM. Via Iraqi media.

In late June a spectacular military parade took place that was unprecedented in its scale and symbolism. The event was held at a military base to commemorate the seven years since the Popular Mobilization Forces or PMFs emerged in the summer of 2014 as ISIS were rampaging across northern Iraq. At the time, Baghdad was on its knees as its army fell apart and the US dithered for months until it committed to the fight–Operation Inherent Resolve continues until today even as the same PMFs, or at last their most strident partisans, are launching hit-and-run attacks on some 2,500 US forces in the country.

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Armored Cars: Bruiser Tech Bruiser 112

July 22, 2021
Via Bruiser Tech.

South Africa’s military-industrial sector may be stuck in its doldrums but innovation is very much alive and well among smaller companies who aren’t weighed down by crippling debt or poor exports. The Bruiser 112 is a new mine-resistant truck from a little known startup that wanted to fill a gap in the market. That being a need for newer mine-resistant armored transports that were very easy to maintain. The Bruiser 112 continues to undergo testing in various geographical conditions and it has been fitted with a rooftop armament.

At a mere 13 tons fully loaded and with dimensions that fit inside a shipping container (this was tested too) the Bruiser 112 looks like it will be turning heads sooner rather than later.

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The US Is Selling Ballistic Missiles To Taiwan

July 21, 2021
Via US military.

As part of a huge arms deal put together by the Trump administration during its last months in office the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced several dozen ATACMS M57 ballistic missiles together with their HIMARS TELs are being sold to Taiwan for $436.1 million. The arms deal also included more than $3 billion worth of missiles such as the Harpoon Block II and the air-launched SLAM-ER. The significance of these munitions being transferred to Taiwan means Washington is actively fortifying the island and its borders against any attempt at an invasion by China.

The Army Tactical Missile System M57 is a short-range ballistic missile with a 500 pound unitary warhead. It can be loaded and fired from either the tracked M270 MLRS or the wheeled HIMARS.

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The One Arms Deal That Will Change Taiwanese History

July 20, 2021
Via Wikimedia Commons.

In late 2020 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which facilitates sales and transfers of US-made military products all over the world, published an announcement for an impending $2.37 billion acquisition by Taiwan of RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II missiles. The size of the order was historic–400 missiles and 100 transporters equipped with launchers. This meant each transporter carried four missiles each. The DSCA also specified 25 radar trucks (meant for target acquisition) and unspecified spare parts together with four “exercise missiles” Taiwan’s military can use for training.

While the timetable for the delivery of these Harpoons is vague their arrival is a clear message to China that it can’t invade the island nation.

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Russia Is Selling A Dangerous New IFV

July 18, 2021
Via ARMY 2020/Kurganmashzavod.

A decade of reform that began under President Dmitry Medvedev has transformed the Russian military and given it some overmatch versus NATO. When assessing its land forces the Russian Army enjoys a rare numerical and quantitative advantage thanks to a diverse and vastly upgraded tank fleet that includes the T-90M Proryv, the T-80BVM, and the T-72B3–there are still thousands of T-72B and T-64B tanks kept in storage. Russian artillery together with information and electronic warfare have proven their effectiveness in Ukraine and Syria. As if these capabilities weren’t daunting enough Russia’s manufacturers are tailoring new combat vehicles superior to the competition in the West.

During ARMY 2020, an annual show for exhibiting Russian military products, Kurganmashzavod unveiled its new infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) named Manul.

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India Is Forging Ahead With Rocket Artillery

July 3, 2021
Stock image supplied by DRDO/PIB India.

There’s no doubt the country’s armed forces are struggling with inadequate equipment but as far as the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are concerned its technical efforts are hard to beat. In late June the agency announced it successfully tested precision rockets at intermediate ranges. The first was a 122mm munition–better known as “Grad” after its Soviet origins–that India’s state news agency claimed flew “up to 40 kilometers.” Far from obsolete, Grad rockets are the most widely used medium caliber indirect fire munitions coveted by armies in four continents. The Indian Army still maintains a sizable collection of Soviet vintage BM-21 Grads augmented by locally made variants.

But wait, there’s more!

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This South Korean APC Is A Winner

July 1, 2021
Via South Korean media.

Ten years since its development commenced the ROK Army’s K808 has settled into its role as a dependable wheeled transport for the country’s vast ground forces. This puts it should-to-shoulder with the new generation of Asian wheeled APCs that includes China’s very successful ZBL family and its immediate rival the CM-32/34 from Taiwan. Japan’s own army was ahead of the competition in the 1990s with the Type 96, a model that’s now outdated due to space constraints. This has spurred a fresh attempt at fielding another wheeled 8×8 APC that can fit into the JGSDF’s current emphasis on territorial defense. Refusing to be left behind, North Korea continued pouring resources into wheeled combat vehicles, and the previous year saw the first public appearance of a tank destroyer armed with missiles.

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Armored Cars: Volat Defense MZKT 490101

June 30, 2021

As dated as the term “former Soviet republic” is it still best describes a collection of less-than-liberal countries that are awkwardly thriving despite the world’s present tumult. Belarus is one of them and as its ongoing popular revolt drags on Minsk has directed state-owned enterprises such as vehicle manufacturer Volat to keep doing business abroad. As it should, since Volat’s catalog–be it commercial or “defense”–has evolved into a remarkable selection of transports for any job. For this year’s IDEX 2021 arms show in Abu Dhabi Volat revealed its MZKT 490101 in a suitable desert tan; a clear nod to regional customers needing a new APC for their troops.

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The Australian Army Really Really Likes The Abrams

June 29, 2021
The Australian Army’s M1A1 SA. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In late April the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a “possible Foreign Military Sale” to Australia of surplus Abrams tanks and parts worth $1.685 billion. Breaking down the package reveals the Australian Army is adding 75 M1A2 SEPv3 to its existing fleet along with 29 Assault Breacher Vehicles, 18 Joint Assault Bridges, and 6 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles. These are all variants being assembled from existing M1A1 Abrams hulls kept in US Army storage and transferred to Australia.

The Australian Army has several dozen M1A1 SA tanks in service. When this new acquisition is fulfilled it will grow the tank fleet to 135, representing a substantial expansion of the army’s combat power. Of course, the DSCA insists the delivery of advanced MBTs and their support vehicles to Australia “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

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Iranian Anti-Tank Weapons Are Multiplying

June 27, 2021
Via Iranian media.

Even if its scale couldn’t match similar events from neighboring countries the arms show that took place in Tehran during the latter half of May was still important. The stream of delegates and VIPs who attended were treated to tours outside and inside the venue and the resulting media coverage was exceptional. For the indoor exhibition the full range of Iranian military products was put on display including some that have never been shown to the public. The row of shoulder-fired launchers pictured above are one example and their appearance suggests a serious effort at enlarging the arsenal provided to Iranian infantry.

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Iraqi Anti-Aircraft Guns Are Back In Business

June 25, 2021
Via Iraqi MoD.

A news clip from Iraq’s defense ministry meant to show off the army’s anti-aircraft systems revealed a surprising comeback for a particular weapon. In its Baathist heyday the Iraqi armed forces boasted a separate air defense branch patterned after the Soviet model. The branch enjoyed a historic expansion in the eight years of war against Iran (the Israeli strike on Osirak was another contributing factor) and prior to Operation Desert Storm in 1991 the US-led coalition worried about several thousand surface-to-air missiles and an estimated 8,500 anti-aircraft guns used by the Iraqis. At the time, US war planners identified 1,300 anti-aircraft guns around Baghdad alone.

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Chinese Rocket Artillery Is Constantly Improving

June 24, 2021
Via Chinese state media.

Online Chinese military propaganda is now so widespread it’s hard to imagine what it doesn’t reveal. Photos released this month on the defense ministry’s news website showed the 80th Group Army’s artillery during a live fire exercise somewhere in northern China. The “Group Army” is best understood as a corps-sized formation (50,000-70,000 strong) that operates autonomously from within a specific theater. To the best of the Pentagon’s knowledge, China’s PLA have 13 Group Armies spread over five commands–north south, east, west, and central–encompassing the whole country. With the exception of the Group Army tasked with attacking Taiwan, the rest of the PLA’s Group Armies are equipped for territorial defense.

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