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Highlights Of OEWatch For April 2020

April 30, 2020

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine as a free download on the APAN Community Network. OEWatch’s April issue runs 77 pages and features a stock image of a pathogen on the cover to keep up with the difficult times facing humanity amid a pandemic. But the usual five section format is maintained spanning Eurasia, the Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa, and Latin America. Editorial duties are shared among Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and designer Thomas Tolare with input by a large pool of contributing writers.

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Armored Cars: VPK Atlet

April 29, 2020

Via Russian media.

A mild surprise at the ARMY 2019 exhibition in Russia was the public display of two new protected 4×4’s from the Military Industrial Company or VPK–the same manufacturer responsible for the GAZ Tigr. Parked side-by-side in the sprawling outdoor venue was the AMN-2 Atlet or “Athlete” and its heftier sibling the VPK Ural mine-resistant truck. Both are in the final stages of testing and will soon enter service with the Russian armed forces. Weighing just 10 tons fully loaded the Atlet is a comprehensive upgrade of the Tigr whose protection level is now deemed lacking. Available in single and double cab variants the Atlet boasts improvements in all aspects that count–armor, combat, and mobility.

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The Clouded Leopard APC Is Designed To Protect Taiwan

April 26, 2020

Via Military News Agency / Taiwan.

The ROC Army is continuing its transition to a universal wheeled platform as its primary troop carrier after more than 50 years of maintaining its tracked M113’s. This month the official news agency for the armed forces revealed the CM-34, the latest version of the the Clouded Leopard 8×8 APC, is entering service and as many as 200 are expected to augment the existing CM-32 fleet. The CM-32 8X8 APC is an indigenous design based on a Timoney chassis, which is also used on other wheeled APC’s such as the Singaporean Terrex and the Serbian Lazar. Numerous performance issues marred the CM-32 a decade since it was adopted by the army and this no doubt influenced the CM-34’s development.

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Japan Is Preparing To Launch Its Own Space Force

April 25, 2020

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The annual Defense Programs and Budget of Japan report provides a helpful overview of the country’s national security goals and the resources needed for achieving these. But the 2020 edition shared by the defense ministry goes above and beyond expectations with its detailed outline for a “space operations squadron.” Found on page 4 and 5 of the report are “Priorities for…cross-domain operations” that emphasize the need to protect Japan’s orbiting satellites from hostile acts. Six “capabilities” or objectives are enumerated along with their anticipated costs. The defense ministry pegs total spending for these objectives at, when converted to the present exchange rate, $470 million.

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The Newest Chinese Weapons Empower Rogue States

April 19, 2020

The PHL-03 is a long-range rocket artillery system. Via China Military Online.

Since the Communist Party took over China in 1949 it has maintained vigorous arms exports to ideological allies and friends. The scale of this lethal commerce remains misunderstood until the present although it’s best to recall the many civil wars and “revolutions” in the late 20th century that involved the use of Chinese-made weapons. Of course, it isn’t surprising that genocidal tyrants and their illiberal regimes are the most loyal customers for Beijing’s hardware. Recall how Albania’s Enver Hoxha defied both NATO and the Warsaw Pact by fortifying his country; an effort only made possible with unfailing Chinese support. Even North Korea’s advances with its weapons of mass destruction would not be possible without access to Chinese scientific expertise.

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China And The USA Are Threatening War In The Asia-Pacific

April 18, 2020

Via US Air Force/ Pacific AF.

The US military sent a very unambiguous message on its social media accounts this week when photos of an “elephant walk” involving long-range bombers in Andersen Air Force Base were published by the Pacific Air Forces. The photos revealed a line of aircraft on a runway that included two drones, five B-52H Stratofortress’, and six aerial refueling tankers or KC-135 Stratotankers. The elephant walk on April 13 took place just days after a joint patrol in the Philippine Sea by a US Marine Corps amphibious assault ship and a Japanese destroyer. The official justification for the elephant walk was to “ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

What the US military didn’t convey were China’s own actions in recent weeks.

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North Korea Keeps A Lot Of Exotic Artillery

April 12, 2020

The ML-20 howitzer. Via Wikimedia Commons.

March saw a surprising tempo of North Korean military exercises attended by a watchful Kim Jong Un. But these demonstrations all took place just weeks apart in the same coastal area where long-range weaponry is launched at a rocky islet. Even the most carefully edited propaganda may reveal something unexpected and this is what became apparent when Kim oversaw “guided artillery fire” between March 13 and 21. Photos of these events published by the state news agency confirmed what many have suspected for decades–putting aside North Korea’s varied missiles, its armed forces are stuck with an antiquated inventory.

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Armored Cars: MIC-AVF Al Dahna

April 11, 2020

Via Armored Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Factory.

The 2010s witnessed a surge in domestic armored vehicle production across the Middle East. Nearly all of the resulting models are based on a 4×4 chassis and strong demand fueled by ongoing wars led to success stories such as the UAE’s Nimr Ajban, with several thousand already sold. Ever since Saudi Arabia reorganized its state-owned military industries there has been a serious push to supply the country’s armed forces with comparable vehicles that combine protection and versatility. There has been some progress with up-armored Toyota pickup trucks but one intriguing project by the Military Industrial Corporation’s (MIC) Armored Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Factory is the Al Dahna whose name is borrowed from a region of the vast Arabian Desert.

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Is The Russian T-90M Tank Unbeatable?

April 10, 2020

Via Russian media/MoD.

A video clip shared by Russia’s defense ministry on its Youtube channel last month showed a production line of Uralvagonzavod’s newest main battle tanks being readied for transport by rail. These were T-90M’s or the latest variant of the successful T-90 family that enjoys strong demand from customers around the world almost 30 years since they were first revealed. The T-90M that also goes by the name “Proryv” marks a significant departure from the Russian Army’s old tanks with many parts of it redesigned to maximize protection. This is apparent when observing its appearance and the layout of the turret, whose angular shape is covered in spaced panels and reactive armor.

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Military Industries Everywhere Are Shifting To Medical Equipment

April 5, 2020

Via DRDO/Press Information Bureau.

As COVID-19 continues to paralyze much of the world governments everywhere are now mobilizing so-called “defense companies,” or firms responsible for military-industrial production, to help mitigate the virus’ worst effects. This week saw remarkable efforts from India’s state-owned armaments sector to mass-produce personal protective equipment and other tools for dealing with the pandemic. On April 2 the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) revealed its new “biosuit”–pictured above–tailored for medical professionals and designed with the help of “industry partners.” The DRDO is preparing to make 15,000 of these suits a day.

The different enterprises under the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) have also mobilized and rolled out significant quantities of face masks, hospital beds, and liquid sanitizer. The same trend is apparent in other countries.

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Madmen And Simpletons: The Worker State, Absolute

April 1, 2020

Soviet Stalin propaganda poster

He was endowed with the extraordinary powers of endurance characteristic of madmen and simpletons –Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate


The world is so full of simpletons and madmen, that one need not seek them in a madhouse — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Built on a foundation of strife, the Soviet state that won the Russian Civil War had a single overriding goal. It had to preserve itself from its enemies. A country’s survival depends on its weapons and weapons need to be built first.

An industrialized state is essential to a militarized society and when the Soviet Union committed itself to modernization, industrial strength would be its prize at any cost. The fruits of this struggle decided the outcome of the Great Patriotic War.

But, going back again, how did it really start? When were the seeds planted?

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Highlights Of OEWatch For March 2020

March 31, 2020

Each month the US Army’s think tank the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) publishes its open source OEWatch magazine as a free download on the APAN Community Network. OEWatch’s March issue runs 78 pages in the usual five section format spanning Eurasia, the Indo-Pacific, MENA, Africa, and Latin America. Editorial duties are shared among Tom Wilhelm, Karen Kaya, and designer Thomas Tolare with input by a large pool of contributing writers.

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