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Armored Cars: IMI CombatGuard

August 1, 2017

The CombatGuard, also known as Combat Guard or Combatguard, is a novel approach to rugged vehicular design. It’s a truck mashed up with a dune buggy and outfitted for war in civilization’s fringes. It was first revealed to the global arms industry in 2014 and since then has become something between an oddity and a outlier.

The appeal of the CombatGuard is its appearance–it looks like it can roll up and down the roughest terrain imaginable. It does so with panache.

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The Entire Modern Arsenal Of The PLA Was Paraded At Zhurihe

July 31, 2017

Via Xinhua.

With the PLA marking 90 years since its founding in 1927 a rare event took place at Zhurihe last weekend. The barren expanse whose land area stretches 1,000 kilometers is often used as a training ground for elaborate combined arms exercises. But on July 30 a parade was held for the benefit of President Xi Jinping, who showed up in battle dress and delivered a speech to the assembled troops.

Chinese media reported extensively on the occasion and Xi’s words to his soldiers suggest how Beijing sees the world now that the national GDP per capita is almost on par with the United States.

“Today, we are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than any other time in history,” Xi said from his podium, which was on a giant stage covered in camouflage netting. “We need to build a strong people’s military more than any other time in history,” he added.

Though the PLA conducts military parades each year to commemorate the Communist victory over the Kuomintang in 1949, the Zhurihe event was different from the usual pageantry in Tiananmen Square.  Not only was it carried out in a remote location but it featured an assortment of vehicles and weapons that haven’t been seen by the public. Some are pictured below with an accompanying description.

The parade did have another understated aim. This was to cement Xi’s absolute control of the PLA, an institution he has reorganized and cleaned up since assuming office in 2012. The PLA is believed to have languished for decades from rampant corruption and obsolete equipment. No wonder Xi made it a point to remind the assembly of troops with their weapons why they exist in the first place.

“Officers and soldiers, you must unswervingly stick to the fundamental principle and system of the Party’s absolute leadership over the army,” he said. “Always listen to and follow the Party’s orders, and march to wherever the Party points to.”

Events in Zhurihe also involved theatrical demonstrations of a mock helicopter assault and awesome flyovers by different aircraft, including three J-20 stealth fighters–their second high profile appearance since the Zhuhai air show last year. Before the parade commenced in earnest the PLA’s helicopter gunships flew by in a unique formation; the Chinese characters for the armed forces and the number “90.”

These can all be viewed on the official video clip broadcast by Chinese media.

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Iraq And Iran Now Have A Formal Military Alliance

July 31, 2017

The Defense Ministers of both countries signed multiple agreements on July 23, a Sunday, that were light on specifics but laid the groundwork for what looks like a military alliance in all but name.  The news first broke in Iranian media and was then shared by Reuters:

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday to step up military cooperation and the fight against “terrorism and extremism”, Iranian media reported, an accord which is likely to raise concerns in Washington.

Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart Erfan al-Hiyali signed a memorandum of understanding which also covered border security, logistics and training, the official news agency IRNA reported.

“Extending cooperation and exchanging experiences in fighting terrorism and extremism, border security, and educational, logistical, technical and military support are among the provisions of this memorandum,” IRNA reported after the signing of the accord in Tehran.

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The US Is Still Resupplying The Philippine Military

July 30, 2017

Stock image of US Air Force C-17 Globemaster. Via Wikimedia Commons.

As the battle of Marawi enters its third month the US lived up to its role as the Philippines’ favorite armorer. While the Duterte administration publicized a recent delivery of small arms from China the US has done more than its fair share bolstering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its struggle against a local ISIS franchise.

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The Philippines Has No Choice But To Appease China

July 29, 2017

In less than a year Manila has succeeded in building stronger ties with Beijing as part of a strategy led by President Rodrigo Duterte, who visited the Chinese capital last October and declared fealty to his host’s “ideological flow.”

The goal, of course, is straightforward enough. China is already the Philippines’ largest trade partner, followed by Japan and the US, but its actions in the South China Sea risk a regional war with unimaginable consequences. By mending relations with China the threat it poses diminishes and Manila can even solicit aid and foreign investment.

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The PLA Is Hyping Its 90th Birthday

July 28, 2017

The past month has seen a careful itinerary of events rolled out for the Chinese armed forces’ birthday. The institution known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), recognized as the largest of its kind in the world, is celebrating 90 years since its first significant battle on August 1, 1927.

commemorative page for its 90th anniversary was released by the PLA’s English-language news site.

To mark the occasion President Xi Jinping will be at a military training facility in Inner Mongolia on the last weekend of July. The area known as the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base is a huge expanse of open terrain where the PLA conduct brigade and division-level mock battles. Xi Jinping’s visit isn’t remarkable for Chinese leaders, whose numerous official functions include visiting PLA maneuvers.

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Armored Cars: IAI RAM Mk3

July 25, 2017

This unusual truck from Israel really belongs to a class of its own. The RAM is a throwback to a time when the IDF depended so much on mobility for waging war and keeping the peace that it adopted an improvised transport bristling with machine guns.

The RAM Mk 3 or RAM III is a rare offering from Israel Aerospace Industries, the same state-owned conglomerate that sells cutting edge missiles and advanced UAVs everywhere, as part of its ill-defined ground warfare portfolio. The RAM’s distinctive cab and sloping armor sets it apart from the cumbersome trucks saturating today’s armored vehicle market.

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These Battle Rifles Are Perfect For The Indian Army

July 23, 2017

It’s common knowledge the Indian Army spent years seeking a replacement for their INSAS rifle, a Galil clone that entered service in the 1990s. Almost a quarter century since jawans first took it to battle the army desperately wants a new model chambered for the 7.62x51mm round, the same cartridge as their original FAL’s from the days of Indira Gandhi.

But even the Ordnance Factory Board’s heroic efforts at producing a local alternative were shot down. Disappointing tests conducted on a 7.62mm OFB rifle in June 2017, involving a small arm that still looked like an INSAS, forced the army to dig its heels and open an invitation for prospective alternatives.

Of course, there are no shortage of options and the battle rifle concept is regaining popularity among the world’s militaries, anyway. In early 2017 even the US Army advertised its requirement for a squad level marksman rifle that surpasses their browbeaten M4 carbines. Small arms manufacturers everywhere have anticipated this trend away from NATO’s favorite light cartridge and readied shiny new battle rifles for those who can afford them.

But the Indian Army needs 185,000 battle rifles in the coming years, with a million to go until the 2030s. That’s more than anyone else. The prospective candidates aren’t too many but what they have to offer–weapons suited for the 7.62x51mm round–should meet India’s standards. If not, what will?

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Iraq Is The Latest Customer Of The T-90S

July 22, 2017

Not a T-90S but a T-72M. Via Mahmud Saleh.

Russian media confirmed the sale of an estimated 73 T-90S and SK tanks to Iraq in a new but previously undisclosed arms deal. It was a Kremlin official named Vladimir Kozhin who acknowledged the transaction to Izvestiya. His statements prove earlier claims that a public report from Uralvagonzavod listed upcoming deliveries to both Vietnam and Iraq.

The sale of the T-90S and its command tank variant, the T-90SK, is a return to form for the Iraqi Army, whose experience with Soviet T-series tanks began in the 1970s. The T-90S is the most advanced MBT for export by Russia and is popular among operators with previous experience driving and fighting with its ancestor, the T-72.

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The South Korean T-50 Trainer Wins In Southeast Asia

July 21, 2017

Thailand is the latest customer for Korea Aerospace Industries‘ impressive light attack jet. Though often recognized as a trainer the FA-50 variant of the original T-50 Golden Eagle earned valuable combat experience performing close air support in the Southern Philippines.

On July 11 the Thai government announced a further acquisition of eight T-50’s to augment four ordered in 2015. The eight T-50’s cost a total of $258 million that will be paid via yearly tranches until 2019. This gives the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) a dozen new trainer-light attack aircraft by the 2020s with ample leeway for additional orders.

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The Philippine Military Has A Dozen New 155mm Howitzers

July 19, 2017

A batch of Soltam M-71 155mm towed howitzers were delivered to the Philippines in mid-2017. They came on separate dates; three were received on June 8 and nine more followed on July 14. This howitzer acquisition fulfills an order dating to 2015 and is part of a longstanding modernization plan for the Philippine Army and Marine Corps. Each branch will be assigned a battery of the howitzers made by Israel’s Elbit Systems.

The 12 new 155mm towed howitzers along with a supply of high explosive shells are a welcome addition to the existing artillery used by the country’s armed forces. The bulk of these consist of portable mortars and light howitzers such as the  World War Two vintage 105mm M101. The Philippine Army in particular is a keen user of fire support during operations against Muslim secessionists.

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Indonesia Joins The South China Sea Fray

July 18, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

On July 14 an Indonesian official presented a new map to a collection of journalists. The geography and appearance of Southeast Asia’s reigning giant hadn’t changed but it did have new borders. According to Arif Havas Oegroseno of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs the open sea surrounding the remote Natuna Islands is now irrevocably Jakarta’s domain.

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