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The Great Middle Eastern Fighter Jet Scramble

November 25, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

By 2022 more than 500 advanced combat aircraft would have been delivered to Middle Eastern states. The majority of these assets are US-made fourth and fifth-generation fighters paid for by its regional allies. Smaller quantities of the same are arriving from alternate sources, such as France, Russia, and the UK. The volume of these transactions should rank among the largest collective arms deals ever recorded. Only India, with its manic urge to rebuild its air force, could come close to ordering as many airframes over such a brief period.

This ominous trend is undeniable proof the  region is preparing for a war whose form and shape remains difficult to ascertain. But what Gulf Arab states want isn’t any different from the privilege of stealthiness and precision that Israel has enjoyed for decades. The same qualities are cherished in Iran, which is laying the groundwork for a domestic aerospace sector, even if it can’t seem to find vendors.

What is now unfolding is a competition that will definitely have lethal consequences for millions of people, just like Yemen’s battered populace. So how is this scramble going to pan out? Here’s a convenient guide to all the action.

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Armored Cars: KMW Dingo

November 21, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

With the German military committed to deployments abroad rather than territorial defense, it’s not surprising a humble light truck has become an indispensable part of its vehicular fleet. The Krauss-Maffei Wegmman (KMW) ATF Dingo 1 entered service at the turn of the century and was soon deployed to the Balkans and the Middle East. Not to be confused with the smaller AMPV that’s competing against other European 4×4’s, the Dingo lineage is closer to MRAPs in form and function.

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Highlights Of OEWatch For November 2017

November 20, 2017

After a week’s delay, the November issue of OEWatch arrives with an intense focus on the recent ZAPAD exercises in Belarus. This month’s cover spells out ZAPAD: Views From The Neighborhood, which is a theme borrowed from last month’s North Korean selections. OEWatch is available as a free download from the APAN Community Network.

Editorial duties are still shared between Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and Lucas Winter with a familiar pool of contributors filling up the sections. November’s OEWatch is shorter this time, running just 66 pages.

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The Indian Army Is Looking For A New Tank

November 18, 2017

India’s defense ministry just relaunched a program known as the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) to find a cutting edge tank for the mid-2020s and beyond. A Request For Information (RFI) was published on November 8 to receive submissions from vendors who can match the Indian Army’s criteria.

The FRCV’s ambitious scope makes it the largest of its kind in the world. The Indian Army needs 1,770 new main battle tanks based on a universal hull and chassis. The still unnamed tank is then adapted for different roles. Under the new requirements imposed by the defense ministry, the winning vendor must help a local “strategic partner” manufacture the tank.

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The US Army Just Published Its Predictions Till 2050

November 15, 2017

In July 2017 the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) published a report that described how a chaotic and uncertain future lies ahead for American power–whatever this still means beyond the 2020s. The Operational Environment And The Changing Character Of Future Warfare, hereby shortened to TOEATCCOFW, isn’t classified and is available as a free download. TRADOC even used its annual Mad Scientist Conference to promote it.

The value of the 21 page report, whose ominous cover is crowded with badly photo edited images of American soldiers, is its most startling revelation: unfettered technological progress will bring about chaos.

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The Thai Arms Industry Is Getting Bigger And Bigger

November 12, 2017

One of the largest militaries in the ASEAN has reason to be optimistic about its future. The Defense and Security arms show held in Bangkok this week served as a convenient venue for advertising the Thai military’s ambitious plans. While entire pavilions were commandeered by some countries in the course of the event, the local defense manufacturing sector had ample space to shine.

It’s now apparent Thailand’s defense ministry is committed to a road map for not just modernizing, but rebuilding the entire armed forces. Although importing weapons remains a critical part of the military’s force structure, there are now tangible programs for sourcing production to local firms.

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The Philippines Plans On Buying Israeli And Russian Weapons

November 11, 2017

The Duterte administration has revealed its new defense modernization policy–ordering weapons from two trusted suppliers. And neither is the United States. In a speech delivered to the Philippine Marine Corps on November 7, President Duterte thanked regional allies for their support during the battle of Marawi and praised Russia for the AKMs and trucks it sent over.

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Armored Cars: Textron SCTV

November 10, 2017

Over the years many attempts have been made to upgrade the AM General Humvee that still enjoys widespread use with American forces and their allies. Perhaps the most impressive yet is a rare build process carried out by the defense contractor Textron that results in the Survivable Combat Tactical Vehicle (SCTV). The SCTV is a cost-effective option for armies who can’t afford newer armored cars but still need a battlefield truck.

The SCTV’s origins are fairly recent. Textron and a partner firm named Granite Tactical Vehicles began promoting its re-manufacturing kits for Humvees in 2011. These eventually grew into the SCTV, which is exclusive to the M1100 series.

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The Evolution Of Modern Israeli Tanks

November 8, 2017

No other modern country thrives in constant warfare the way Israel does. Rather than crumble from repeated attacks by hostile neighbors, the Jewish state tipped the scales in its favor with a huge conscript army supported by a world-class manufacturing base.

The best proof of this remarkable convergence is Israel’s impressive tank fleet and its vanguard, the unique Merkavas. But examining the origins and development of its armored corps reveals many decades of hard lessons and improvisation.

Often outgunned by its Arab foes, Israel spent years harnessing the knowledge and technology needed for producing tanks that could fight and survive against extremely dangerous adversaries. The results have been and very much are, for lack of a better word, spectacular.

Israel’s desperate need for armor goes back to its War of Independence in 1948, when it relied on modified trucks and old French tankettes for leveling the odds. The urgent need to always have better weapons continued for the next 65 years. It’s a long and fascinating evolution that may never end.

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Indonesia Just Ordered New Anti-Aircraft Missiles

November 7, 2017

A $77 million contract for SAMs was signed by Indonesia’s defense ministry and the defense contractor Kongsberg in late October. A press release from the Norwegian manufacturer hailed the deal for its NASAMS air defense system as a breakthrough that opened up new opportunities in the Asia-Pacific. No further details were shared by either party surrounding this acquisition.

The Norwegian advanced surface to air missile system or NASAMS is a medium-range complex intended for defending military and civilian facilities against airstrikes. It can be armed with a selection of missiles, the most common being the dual-purpose AMRAAM. Kongsberg’s NASAMS have been exported to several international customers, including the US. American defense contractor Raytheon will be supplying AMRAAM missiles to Indonesia.

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Xi Jinping Paid A Visit To His New Command Center

November 7, 2017

Via Xinhua.

No other Chinese leader has appeared in digital battle dress uniform as much as Xi Jinping. Just two weeks after cementing his grip on power and reshuffling the Central Military Commission (CMC), an office that manages the PLA’s activities, Xi was hobnobbing with his generals again in their headquarters. That would be the nondescript five story building where a “Joint Command Center” is located.

Described by state media as the PLA’s “highest operational brain,” the CMC’s command center is packed with offices and a workplace-auditorium setup equipped with interactive maps. Referring to it as “new” is fitting, since it was only launched between 2014 and 2015, when Xi Jinping began reforming the Party’s armed forces. Last week wasn’t his first time in the CMC’s main office though, since Xi’s military visits are part of his work routine.

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The PLA Gets Two Huge Industrial Parks For Its R&D

November 4, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

This week marked a crucial turning point for China’s military-industrial complex. On November 2, a Thursday, a barely publicized ceremony in Shaanxi Province was held to launch two important projects. The significance of the event merited a cursory press release whose mileage didn’t extend beyond the usual state-owned media.

Two new industrial parks are now open for attracting private sector firms to embark on military-related ventures. Both are located outside the historic city of Xi’an. The Xi’an Electronics Valley and the Western China Civil-Military Integration Valley are reported to offer a “1.45 million square meter area” for manufacturing and research enterprises.

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