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India And The UAE Are Forming A Military Alliance

January 29, 2017

Indian Su-30MKI

India just found its first genuine ally in the Middle East. Earlier this week Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan announced the signing of 14 MoUs to enhance bilateral ties. This was days before the Crown Prince was an honored guest during the 68th Republic Day parade on the 26th, a Thursday, when a contingent of UAE soldiers joined the martial procession. Beneath the ambiguous official language of the MoUs was one particular linkage that could see Indian weapon systems transferred to the United Arab Emirates soon.

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2016: The Year In War

January 5, 2017

Via Dar Yasin.

In the grand tradition of all those other websites posting Best lists, here is 21st Century Asian Arms Race’s own The Year In War. Seen below are the violent struggles that deepened the world’s insecurity in 2016.

The value of this annual report is for those who appreciate hindsight and the role war plays in shaping societies. It’s best if the lessons imparted by recent experience don’t go to waste, even when old conflicts are rekindled and fought for the same reasons.

There was no shortage of grim lessons from the previous year.

Conflict and mass violence persisted in five continents, with terrorism in the Middle East still on the rise. Specific actors on the global stage orchestrated much of the world’s mayhem; the US, Russia, Iran, NATO, and (surprisingly) the Islamic State. This is ultimate proof that as our century gets underway, modern countries have neither the will nor the foresight to work together and end war.

The sole exception was the recent peace deal in Colombia, which book ended a struggle that has lasted 50 years. Even if Colombians voted against the peace deal’s terms during a referendum in October neither their government nor the FARC appear willing to resume the showdown.

On a positive note, the incidence of warfare around the world subsided with fewer countries listed for 2016.

But still too many frozen conflicts carried on, with little effort spent resolving them at a time when dangerous new technology–including nuclear weapons–is costing less and less. A bleaker assessment of the times must acknowledge how the recent US elections furthered the possibility of a Great Power showdown in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

It’s a state of reality that forces us to think if we live in the best of times and the worst of times. An age of wisdom and foolishness. Of perpetual peace and endless war. For the reader’s benefit, countries and regions are arranged alphabetically rather than according to how severe the conflict is.

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Myanmar And China Are Almost At War

January 3, 2017

myanmar-soldiers-01

As a newly-minted world power China’s actions in the past several years have left its neighbors anxious to deal with an implacable giant. But one Southeast Asian country may be on the verge of a real live shooting war with the People’s Republic. Myanmar, which used to call itself Burma, has spent decades battling ethnic armed groups who oppose its military-run government. Even with a democratic revival in 2010 that established civilian leadership over the country chances at a lasting peace are bedeviled by lingering rivalries.

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Are China And Iraq Working On A Huge Arms Deal?

January 1, 2017

china-hq-9-theater-defense-sam

The government of Iraq could be on the verge of acquiring a theater air defense system this year. But it won’t be coming from the US. In what appears to be a rekindling of old ties Baghdad and Beijing are hammering out a multi-billion dollar deal for advanced weaponry, including long-range SAMs. Although facts are scarce at present the implications of this purchase are worth examining.

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The Endless Wars Of Yemen

December 30, 2016

Yemen Tribal Gunman with AK-47

The mountainous crust of Southern Arabia is a familiar setting for tribal societies and their feuds. As a peripheral region with forbidding geography it’s no wonder Yemen has oscillated from crisis to civil war in the last hundred years.

Should an invading army seize Yemen it gains a vantage point for interdicting maritime traffic from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. It can also guard a passageway to East Africa and either march to the heart of Arabia or strangle the Persian Gulf.

The Roman Empire understood the value of what it called Arabia Felix. So did the Abyssinian and the Sassanian  Persians and whoever else tried to achieve hegemony in the Middle East.

With Yemen ravaged by a civil war fueled by its neighbors it’s worth exploring recent history to find the underlying causes of its endless strife. In a region synonymous with violence Yemen represents a unique case of foreign interference in parochial struggles that thrive when a strong and centralized state is nonexistent.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For December 2016

December 28, 2016

France Stormningen af Halle

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief featuring excerpts of news about ongoing wars and crises. These snippets gathered from various media outlets are accompanied by informed commentary that’s strong on context and analysis.

The FMSO releases OEWatch, together with its vast library of research papers on geopolitical issues, as free downloads.

The December 2016 issue of OEWatch runs just 54 pages. On the cover are stock images of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Vladimir Putin superimposed on their respective capital cities. This accompanies the Special Essay titled The Evolution of Turkish-Russian Relations.

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Armored Cars: Oshkosh JLTV

December 28, 2016

us-oshkosh-jltv-02

Rather than settle for improved Humvees–or a foreign equivalent–the US Army and Marine Corps are betting on a modular truck that may soon be rolling across five continents. The Oshkosh JLTV emerged the winner in a three-way competition to find the US military’s next all-terrain 4×4 workhorse.

In retrospect the Oshkosh JLTV was the safest choice against the contenders from Lockheed Martin and AM General. The secret to Oshkosh’s winning model is it being a lighter variant (L-ATV) of the proven M-ATV MRAP. This made it a perfect fit for the JLTV program that was first approved in late 2006 and launched the following year. The JLTV competition began in earnest on August 22, 2012, and was decided on August 25, 2015 with Oshkosh the clear winner.

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The URO Vamtac Is Now In Pakistan

December 3, 2016
spanish-uro-vamtac-02

Promo photo of the Vamtac ST5. An earlier variant resembling the Vamtac S3 had a demonstration at IDEAS 2016 in Karachi.

URO Vehiculos Especiales S.A.’s premier tactical vehicle the Vamtac was spotted at IDEAS 2016 last week. This is the latest appearance by the 4×4 in a busy year where demand for its capabilities–fast, small, and modular–seems to have peaked.

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Pakistan Is In Love With The Turkish Defense Industry

December 2, 2016

Turkish flag 02

Arms shows are a useful gauge of a country’s preoccupations. If the recent IDEAS 2016 held at the Karachi Expo Center from November 22 until 25 had a single and definitive theme it would be the smoldering dalliance between Pakistan and Turkey. As a matter of fact, Turkish companies–all 19 of them–occupied the largest pavilion during the show. China was a second placer at just 14 exhibiting companies.

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IDEAS 2016 Had An Al Khalid Tank Outside Its Venue

December 1, 2016

pakistan-al-khalid-mbt-ideas-2016

As throngs of visitors made their way inside the Karachi Expo Center for IDEAS 2016 (November 22 to 25), the largest arms show in Pakistan, they were greeted by armored vehicles on static display at the main entrance. These included the Al Khalid, Pakistan’s first indigenous main battle tank and arguably the best of its kind in the region.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for IDEAS 2016.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For November 2016

November 28, 2016

France Stormningen af Halle

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine. It’s a superb brief featuring excerpts of news about ongoing wars and crises. These snippets gathered from various media outlets are accompanied by informed commentary that’s strong on context and analysis.

The FMSO releases OEWatch, together with its vast library of research papers on geopolitical issues, as free downloads.

Read more…

Armored Cars: ICP REVA III

November 28, 2016

south-african-reva-iii-4x4

It’s not surprising to learn South African companies are still making waves in the armored vehicles market. After all, it’s the cradle of the first mine-resistant trucks and when US forces were caught in their Iraqi quagmire the startup called Integrated Convoy Protection heeded the call. The company was founded by a group of former South Africa National Defense Force (SANDF) veterans whose collective backgrounds influenced a product whose best traits are an appealing price point and battlefield ruggedness.

Since then ICP have grown to a formidable player in the arms industry with more of its REVA vehicles in active war zones than the competition from Europe. Its most popular model is the middleweight REVA III. At just nine metric tons it’s considerably lighter than its peers; an advantageous feature when it’s driven over third world roads and highways that would crumble beneath whales like the Kirpi, for example.

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