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Iranian Combat Drones Have Reached Europe

October 2, 2022
A graphic using public imagery of Shahed-136 loitering munitions shared by Ukraine Media Center on its social media.

With Ukraine facing a new aerial threat to its troops on the ground and the cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv its government wasted no time coming up with a response. On September 23 the foreign ministry dealt a “revocation of accreditation” to Iran’s ambassador as well as sanctions on the embassy, whose staff must now leave. While this isn’t a full severance of diplomatic ties it served as a public warning that Kyiv won’t tolerate Tehran’s arms deliveries. Although the Russian Federation never purchased weapon systems from Iran–it’s the other way around–the circumstances of its brutal war on Ukraine created a watershed moment for the Islamic Republic’s opaque commerce in weaponry.

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Ansar Allah Are Switching To The AK-103

September 30, 2022
Via Youtube.

The war that engulfed the country in 2015 may have finally reached an inconclusive end when a truce prevailed earlier this year. Although it put a stop to active combat Yemen is effectively partitioned between Ansar Allah, the military organization that holds the capital Sana’a and much of the north and northwest, and its rivals. In the south a separate government, who are bankrolled by Abu Dhabi, hold sway while the east of the country is under Riyadh’s de facto control.

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India Is Ready To Export A Lot Of Guns

September 27, 2022
Via AWE India Ltd.

The state-owned AWE India Ltd. is now offering its entire catalog for export with an emphasis on small arms and artillery. At the recent Africa Aerospace and Defense (AAD) 2022 exhibition, which took place from September 18 to 22, the manufacturer displayed its products for a regional audience–AAD 2022 is still considered the most high profile arms show in southern and central Africa. But there was little to surprise potential end users unless they were looking for familiar alternatives that can replace their existing weaponry. Kalashnikov rifles and their clones are still spreading across the continent and AWE India Ltd. has its own AKM copy it can mass-produce.

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Azerbaijan Makes Its Own Heavy Machine Gun

September 25, 2022
Via ADEX 2022/

Small arms production continues to flourish as MODIAR–a state-owned holding called the the Ministry of Defense Industry of Azerbaijan Republic–expands its production beyond light weapons. At the ADEX 2022 arms show that took place from September 6 until 8 in Baku a new weapon was shown at MODIAR’s stall. The heavy machine gun had a familiar appearance but careful scrutiny showed little in common with the Russian-made Kord. The weapon looks like an unlicensed copy of a Soviet NSV machine gun featuring many small improvements over the original model it imitates.

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What Caused The Iran-Iraq War?

September 19, 2022

Via Wikimedia Commons.

With its society under pressure from the lasting effects of war and the pandemic Baghdad was once again in turmoil this July as angry mobs overran the legislature and nearly unraveled Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Khadimi’s fragile government. But further chaos was averted weeks later when the Sadrists, the fanatical loyalists of the cleric and parliamentarian Muqtada al-Sadr, backed down from open battles with the military. Opposing them were, ironically, the neutral armed forces and the pro-Iran factions who’ve become entrenched in the Iraqi state since the US military’s 2011 withdrawal. This drama was just the latest violent turn in a conflict that dates back to the 1930s and has haunted both countries since.

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China Is Betting Hard On The J-16

September 14, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

Since August 3 an undeclared siege has been imposed on Taiwan’s airspace as large formations of Chinese military aircraft are flown over the strait to threaten the “Median Line.” This contentious boundary is an artificial border drawn on open sea serving as a threshold for China’s hostile actions; the erasure of the line is a clear signal an assault on the island is underway. While constant flights might be interpreted as pure symbolism and are non-hostile their daily presence over the strait for the past month and a half is staggering. In just the first two weeks of September Taiwan’s defense ministry identified over two hundred military aircraft flying circuitous routes along the Median Line’s edges.

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Iran Makes All The Drones It Needs

August 26, 2022
Via Iranian media.

Exercises held in the summer of 2022 revealed new vertical take off drone models operated by the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the regular army and navy that have never been seen before. The importance of these aircraft is how they continue to advance and transform the real time intelligence and situational awareness Iranian commanders need. The existence of three distinct fixed wing vertical take off and landing (VTOL) models also serves as proof that Iranian manufacturing processes for shaping composite materials like carbon fiber used on lightweight airframes have matured since the 2010s. The same goes for their systems integration and electro-optical parts fabricating, whether these are imported from abroad or not, in the assembly process for VTOL drones.

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The J-20 Will Have A Very Long Career

August 20, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

After its usual acrobatics at Air Show China 2021 fresh public evidence–leaked through social media earlier this year–revealed the PLAAF‘s first operational stealth fighter is evolving. At least a couple of photos have appeared months apart of J-20’s with enlarged cockpits for two pilots. The speculation so far has polarized between competing themes. Either the “fourth-generation” stealth fighter is in full rate production and is being tailored for pilot training or the J-20 will soon have a long-range strike role aside from its original air superiority role. To date, the J-20 doesn’t carry munitions externally as these are stored in the “belly” along with two adjacent ports for extra missiles.

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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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