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Cheap Chinese Assault Rifles Are Made In Algeria

July 7, 2022
Via Algerian state media.

More than half a century since China lent its full diplomatic and material support for African nationalists its weaponry remains popular across the continent. One of the biggest customers is Algeria whose armed forces are lavished with funds diverted from oil and gas revenues. But during a recent military parade to mark 60 years since independence it became apparent its soldiers are issued with the most basic, even completely outdated, assault rifle supplied by China. It turns out a state-owned factory called the Mechanical Construction Establishment of Khenchela has been mass-producing Type 56 and Type 56-1 assault rifles since the 1990s.

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Iranian Missiles Come In All Sizes

July 5, 2022
Two Heydar-1 missiles are displayed below a Fotros combat drone. Via Iranian media.

In late May footage of a sizable underground facility showed the latest armaments produced for the Islamic Republic’s always growing combat drone fleet. These include the “Heydar-1” air-launched missile and its larger variant the “Heydar-2” that has a small jet engine underneath is fuselage. By its appearance alone the Heydar-2 is an outsized loitering munition designed to hit targets at extreme ranges. There’s now sufficient evidence all branches of Iran’s military have underground facilities for storing various war material and the contents of these locations are becoming more diverse.

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The HJ-73 Is Never Quitting The PLA

June 25, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

New evidence has revealed, contrary to the hype over its cutting-edge weapon systems, the PLA’s ground force are still training with its oldest portable anti-tank missile–the HJ-73. The Chinese analogue to the Soviet vintage Malyutka (NATO designation is “AT-3 Sagger”) is at least 50 years old by now and boasts few noticeable improvements aside from a redesigned warhead and a portable laser rangefinder that’s operated separately from the launcher supporting the small missile. The current variant of the HJ-73 with a dual warhead penetrates tank armor at least 400mm thick but at ranges far below its 3,000 meter or 3 kilometer maximum envelope.

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Endless War Made The Bayraktar TB2 World Famous

June 21, 2022
Via Baykar.

It must be the decade’s biggest publicity coup in global aerospace, never mind if it’s only the first half of a difficult 2022, and comes from a manufacturer that was little known just 10 years ago. But with the international outpouring of support for Ukraine in its existential war against a full-scale Russian invasion Baykar’s best-selling combat drone is once again front and center. This time a crowdfunding drive in Lithuania proved so successful–the money was being raised to purchase a Bayraktar TB2–that Baykar not only acknowledged the effort but arranged a donation: it will deliver a Bayraktar TB2 to Lithuania free of charge while the actual funds raised are donated to humanitarian organizations in Ukraine.

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Tajikistan Bought So Many Chinese Armored Vehicles

June 10, 2022
VN3 armored trucks supplied to Tajikistan. Via Tajikistan media.

In the last decade sufficient evidence has surfaced proving that China has the clout and resources to outshine any “Great Power” vying for influence over Central Asia. An inarguable metric to assess this transition are arms sales and transfers of military kit. By comparison, after its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 the US is no longer obligated to help protect vulnerable countries in the region; it’s no biggie, since China can fill the void and appears to be doing so. This doesn’t involve excessive and wasteful spending, which is how the US propped up a feeble government in Kabul for twenty years, but has a focus on covering the equipment shortages in small neighboring militaries.

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The Chunmoo Is Elite Rocket Artillery

June 5, 2022
Via South Korean media.

Some of the most potent weapon systems in the global commerce for armaments are made in South Korea. Since the 2010s there’s been a persistent effort by Seoul, through its own diplomacy and full support behind its chaebols, to win large deals in Asia and Europe. Results have been encouraging, if sometimes mixed, as South Korean manufacturers won some high profile contracts. However, the quality of South Korean military products is beyond reproach and this is apparent in the mobile rocket launcher called the K239 Chunmoo from Hanwha Defense.

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Iran Gave Its Military Countless Battle Trucks

June 4, 2022
A convoy of Aras/Aras 1 trucks during an exercise. Via Iranian media.

After decades of failed and pointless efforts to develop indigenous armored vehicles a humble pickup truck is becoming a clear favorite for every military branch in the Islamic Republic. Back in the 2010s the original single cab Aras arrived on time to join Tehran’s epic campaigns across Syria and then Iraq where they helped equip various militias. With an appearance evoking the Agrale Marruá and the Land Rover Defender the Aras was further improved with the Aras 2 unveiled in mid-2019. To tell either model apart it’s best to check the bonnet or hood and spot a rectangular air intake on the Aras 2. Both remain in production and are being adapted as mobile weapon systems.

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China Keeps Evolving Its Best APC

June 3, 2022
Via Chinese state media.

Recent footage of mobility tests for the PLA’s largest wheeled troop carrier, known as the ZBL-09 and given the export designation “VN1,” showed a redesigned hull where the roof over the passenger compartment is elevated. A remote weapon station for a 12.7mm heavy machine gun made by Norinco was added and next to it is what looks like a pivoting EO/IR sight wrapped in fabric that’s likely controlled by a separate operator. Two small square hatches behind these mountings suggest where the operators are seated behind their control panels. The PLA ground force operate as many as 2,000 of these 8×8 APCs alongside older tracked models such as the Type 63, the Type 85, and the Type 86 (BMP-1) infantry fighting vehicles or IFVs. The heaviest troop carrier and IFV of the PLA is the ZBD-04/08 that’s analogous to the Russian-made BMP-3.

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North Korea Has A Brand New Portable Missile

May 31, 2022
Via North Korean media.

Outside its growing inventory of nuclear missiles a broad rearmament is taking place to a granular degree. The army in particular are being issued new weapon systems to be shown off and these are now appearing whenever spectacular public events are scheduled. The latest military parade on April 25 saw a welcome change in how it was filmed and broadcast through official propaganda. But the tiniest details such as an unnamed portable anti-tank launcher provided to one unit (pictured above) are the most intriguing. Apparently, North Korea’s armed forces have quit looking like relics from a bygone era.

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A Massive Drone War Can Engulf Afghanistan

May 30, 2022
A TB2 combat drone in Ashgabat at a military parade from 2022. Via Turkmenistan media.

Since the fall of Kabul in mid-August last year the new Taliban regime consolidated their grip on power helped along by enablers in Islamabad, Beijing, Tehran, and even Moscow. But the absence of international recognition and violence orchestrated by the resident ISIS franchise have frayed their attempts at governance. Making matters worse, the Taliban’s unreliable border guards fought with their counterparts in four countries in the past six months just when the holdouts calling themselves the National Resistance Forces (NRF) are organizing a rebellion. The looming disorder raises the frightful possibility unrestricted airstrikes by a new generation of combat drones are launched by vengeful neighbors.

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China Is Arming Its European Friends

May 23, 2022
Serbian media.

In late April the Serbian Armed Forces showed its newest air defense weapon system during the SHIELD 2022 exercises at an airbase. The event was attended by the country’s leadership and thousands of visitors who were allowed to view the military equipment on display. Carefully orchestrated exercises on an open field served to advertise national strength at a time when Belgrade is disenchanted with the EU and cultivates a long-term alliance with Beijing and Moscow. During SHIELD 2022 this alliance was best represented by at least one battery of Chinese-made HQ-22 SAMs (pictured above) operating alongside the Russian-made Pantsir-S1’s. Yet Serbia’s high tech military-industrial sector manages to collaborate with suppliers from NATO member countries.

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North Korea Is All Missiles, Less Tanks

May 18, 2022
Via North Korean media.

This year’s first big parade marking the armed forces’ 90th anniversary continued the main themes of its predecessors since late 2020; the emphasis is on advanced weapons and ballistic missiles. It looks like Kim Jong Un is justified in organizing these displays when his military always puts on a lavish show crowded with impeccable infantry squares and their assorted vehicles. The spectacle on the evening of April 25 was broadcast with dramatic editing, explosive excerpts, and an updated musical score in a clear departure from the usual script. This didn’t spare the equipment that rolled by in columns from observation; some of them were strange to behold like the small trucks carrying eight missile launchers behind their cabs. (Pictured above.)

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