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Iran Is Struggling With Anti-Aircraft Artillery

September 14, 2021
Via Iranian media.

Arms shows are enjoying a resurgence across the Middle East after a decade of little to no traction save for popular brands in Jordan and the UAE. But some important ones were held in unexpected places and received very little attention. For example, when Yemen’s Ansar Allah organized an indoor exhibition of their homegrown arsenal in March it didn’t attract serious scrutiny. The same happened in Iran last May when a large indoor/outdoor exhibition was held to showcase domestic armament production. In fact, so many different kinds of weapons were displayed at the event it remains a challenge trying to analyze them all even with exposure from Iranian media.

A real eye catcher in the same event (see photo above) appears to have eluded the usual concerned parties–Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the USA–when its very existence should come as a shock.

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Qatar Is Spending A Fortune On Air Power

September 3, 2021
Via Boeing Defense/Qatar defense ministry.

One of the largest transactions for combat aircraft is now underway between the US aerospace manufacturer Boeing and its premium client–natural gas and oil-rich Qatar. In late August an F-15QA dubbed “Ababil” was unveiled to a select audience as part of Boeing’s push for recognition as the main fighter jet supplier for the world’s most ambitious kingdom. Since 2016, in fact, Qatar’s military spending has ballooned to beat the uncertainty posed by its unpredictable neighbors. Faced with an economic blockade from Saudi Arabia and its allies Doha embarked on what seemed a ludicrous acquisition spree to give it a real air force. In hindsight, the results are now indisputable.

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Armored Cars: Otokar Akrep II

September 1, 2021
Via Otokar.

In 2019 one of Turkey’s leading manufacturers unveiled a hybrid electric armored vehicle it designated the Akrep II. Although Otokar emphasized it was just a demonstrator–a new fully electric variant is in the works–it succeeded in raising the company’s profile and offering a glimpse at the new direction Turkey’s domestic technological leaders want to take. Hybrid electric vehicles are far from experimental, even more so in a military context, but their economies of scale were never viable. Turkey is now the third NATO member whose military-industrial sector developed an indigenous hybrid armored vehicle. The Akrep II is so unique its closest competition is all the way in France.

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The Philippines Badly Needs Air Power

August 28, 2021
Via Wikimedia Commons.

In late June the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a “possible Foreign Military Sale” to the Philippines of 12 single engine F-16C/D multirole fighters along with armaments and spare parts worth $2.43 billion. The DSCA detailed two additional batches of arms sales that included a dozen AGM-84L Harpoon missiles and 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The total value of this package is an estimated $2.7 billion making it among the largest in ASEAN this decade. The US government is also pursuing FMS’ with Indonesia, whose air force is rumored to be vying for the F-15EX, and Singapore–a future operator of the fifth-generation F-35A–that are meant for solidifying alliances with these countries.

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Turkish Anti-Tank Missiles Are Extremely Sophisticated

August 27, 2021
The OMTAS is an ATGM with alternating guidance options. Via Roketsan.

With the exception of the United States no other NATO ally is advancing its military-industrial sector as fast as Turkey. At the recent IDEF 2021 arms show that took place in Istanbul from August 17 until 20 all the major state-owned companies under the SSB’s authority participated. The remarkable indigenization of Turkish aerospace and naval technology is hard to ignore. But even less scrutinized are Turkish missiles, especially the portable kind. Roketsan developed a new generation of anti-tank missiles tailored for ease-of-use and extended ranges. Once these are exported abroad and prove themselves the outcomes for belligerents in any conflict can shift dramatically.

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Israel Exports Some Of The Best Rocket Artillery

August 25, 2021
Via Elbit Systems.

Many aspects of the Jewish state’s military-industrial sector manage to avoid outside scrutiny. The name recall of the Iron Dome air defense system is understandable and UAVs such as the Hermes 450/900 enjoy strong demand from end users outside the Middle East. Yet the scale and variety of medium and long-range ordnance that are made in Israel don’t enjoy the same prestige. Elbit Systems now exports rocket artillery that used to be under the state-owned Israel Military Industries Systems purview. What Elbit Systems does offer modern armies is breathtaking; foremost is the rebranded PULS modular launcher. (Pictured above.)

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The KF-21 Has Very High Hopes

August 20, 2021
Via South Korean media.

Asia’s newest fixed wing combat aircraft enjoyed a lot of hype in April when no less than President Moon Jae-In attended its official launch. The KF-21 Doramae is a twin engine “4.5 generation” multirole fighter that was hailed as a triumph of South Korean technology–the initial press coverage emphasized how its development was a departure from reliance on US-made combat aircraft. The ROK Air Force (ROKAF) in its current structure is a formidable mix of Cold War vintage fighters. Older F-4J’s an F-5E’s are still in service alongside the combat proven KF-16 and F-15K. With the KF-21, however, Seoul is determined to beat the naysayers and shift its military strength to complete and total self-reliance.

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Turkey Is Rebuilding The Somali Armed Forces

August 17, 2021
Via Turkish media.

This week the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF) announced the arrival of new vehicles from its ally Turkey. The delivery consisted of eight BMC Kirpi mine-resistant/ambush protected trucks and 14 BMC 253-16P logistics trucks. Hundreds of Kirpi MRAPs are in service with the Turkish Army and these have seen extensive combat. Operators of the Kirpi include Libya and Turkmenistan. Ankara and Mogadishu spent much of the 2010s establishing a two-way alliance with mutually beneficial goals; for Turkey, it will secure a permanent foothold in the Horn of Africa, while Somalia’s government is able to consolidate its power. In 2017 the “TURKSOM” base outside Mogadishu opened its gates to Somali recruits and Turkey hopes to graduate 10,000 policemen and soldiers in this facility.

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Armored Cars: AM General Humvee NXT 360

August 16, 2021
Via AM General.

In 2018 the US manufacturer AM General unveiled a brand new “light tactical vehicle” to attract end users long familiar with its iconic Humvee, whose role in the US armed fores and with allied countries is entering its fifth decade. The Humvee NXT 360, or just “NXT 360” for short, re-imagined its predecessor with many of the same automotive parts. At the time AM General emphasized how the NXT 360 was both a new vehicle and an “upgrade kit for existing [Humvee] fleets.” This was a calculated move on their part since the global market for protected 4×4’s had become very crowded and budget-conscious militaries were eschewing armored trucks for commercial pickups.

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Iranian Rocket Artillery Just Got More Dangerous

August 15, 2021
Via Iranian media.

With the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy committed to perpetual undeclared war against Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the US the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) are enjoying a broad modernization of its arsenal. The past few years each had at least two events where current and upcoming military technology were displayed for exposure by the national press. This serves to inspire a sense of pride and advertises the country’s hard power. A huge exhibition for the IRGC’s top brass took place in July at a military base for the same reasons. The impressive amount of equipment parked outdoors and shown indoors featured weapon systems that have never been seen until now.

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South Korean Naval Power Gets A New Assault Ship

August 10, 2021
Via South Korean media.

In late June the ROK Navy commissioned its newest landing platform helicopter designated LPH-6112. With a flight deck 199 meters long and 31 meters wide the second Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship supports as many as a dozen transport helicopters along with a full battalion of marines. Whether the ROK Navy expects a third and last Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship to join the fleet this decade is uncertain. Even with just two Dokdo-class ships Seoul will have achieved a credible naval deterrent whose assets can participate in multilateral operations beyond the Asia-Pacific. This marks a turning point in Korean history and is a strong indicator that South Korea itself is a regional power.

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India Keeps Improving Its SAMs

August 5, 2021
Via Indian PIB/DRDO.

On July 23 the DRDO announced it conducted a successful launch and flight test for the Akash-NG, the generational improvement of the Akash SAM, that integrated a radio frequency seeker, a multi-function radar, and a command and control (C2) unit coordinating the operation. The Akash is a short to medium-range SAM system that has partially replaced the Indian Army and Air Force’s Soviet origin anti-aircraft defenses. For decades the Indian military was among the largest operators of Kub, Osa, and Pechora SAMs. The success of the original Akash paved the way for its potential exports; the defense ministry claims there are multiple inquiries for the Akash but no sales have been confirmed yet.

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