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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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The US Marine Corps Opened Up About Its Shortfalls

March 31, 2020

Via Wikimedia Commons.

A 15-page document released by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) on its official website and social media accounts on March 27 caused a bit of a stir. Force Design 2030 is best described as a white paper that envisions the changes the branch should make in this decade. Among its prescriptions, nearly all of them drawn up by the USMC’s Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, is streamlining total manpower in preparation for “great power/peer-level competition with special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific.”

What this means is the USMC is now committed to deterring China. But Force Design 2030 gives a lot of other recommendations for the branch.

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Armored Cars: Dongfeng EQ2091XFB

March 30, 2020

The EQ2019XFB undergoing tests in high altitude geography. It’s armed with a remote controlled 14.5mm machine gun.

Since 2010 there has been a gradual surge in Chinese military equipment production far beyond the domestic market’s needs. Wheeled armored vehicles are no exception to this trend and state-owned manufacturers such as Dongfeng pursued fully localized development for its next generation of mobile platforms. There isn’t much of an origin story for the EQ2091XFB other than it came to be at some point between 2015 and 2016. Its product designation subscribes to the Mengshi-series’ nomenclature. The reader is no doubt familiar with Dongfeng’s successful imitation of the AM General HMMWV called the EQ2050.

The EQ2091XFB surpasses its predecessors in every conceivable metric and, for a model that hasn’t gone mainstream with the PLA yet, it’s available for export.

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Who Can Sell Killer Drones To The Indian Army?

March 29, 2020

The IAI Harop, one of the better known loitering UAVs, has a naval variant.

A new Request for Information (RFI) published by the Indian Army is soliciting entries from manufacturers who wish to supply at least a hundred “loiter munition systems.” The ideal model described by the RFI is man portable with a flight range of 15 kilometers and can stay airborne for half an hour. Loitering munitions are a type of short and medium endurance unmanned aircraft armed with small warheads. Sometimes described as “kamikaze drones” they have enjoyed a surge in demand for the past handful of years with militaries eager to equip soldiers with a cost-effective precision weapon.

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This Deadly Iranian Pickup Truck Is Entering Mass-Production

March 28, 2020

At least three variants of the Aras 2 are captured behind the VIPs. Via Iranian media.

With Iran’s dreaded Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) now engaged in proxy warfare against the US military its arsenal is being adapted for the mission, albeit in ways that have gone unnoticed. A subtle yet worrying development emerged last year, months before the death of Lt. Gen. Soleimani triggered retaliation attacks on US forces in Iraq, when the IRGC’s leadership and Iranian media highlighted progress in new combat vehicles.  At the forefront of the well-orchestrated campaign is an innocuous pickup truck assembled with parts supplied by China.

Since August 2019 the Aras 2 has enjoyed unprecedented coverage that revealed more than it should. Apparently, the IRGC and perhaps the Artesh believe a single pickup truck model can fulfill all their needs.

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The Emirati Rabdan Fighting Vehicle Is One Of A Kind

March 26, 2020

Via Native Fury 2020.

The Emirates’ superbly equipped ground forces almost outshone their guests–the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF)–at this year’s Native Fury 2020 joint exercises. A minor highlight of the proceedings, which spanned almost two weeks in March, was the participation by the Rabdan wheeled armored fighting vehicle. Able to transport a squad of soldiers over any terrain and fight alongside them with its impressive weapon suite, the Rabdan is a unique innovation from a Gulf state that has made no secret that it wants an outsized role in global affairs.

Footage from Native Fury 2020, where US marines fought alongside their Emirati allies in simulated urban combat and mock beach landings, showed the Rabdan proving its mettle in different scenarios.

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This Indian Combat Vehicle Impressed No One

March 22, 2020


A minor surprise that preceded DEFEXPO 2020, which is India’s largest biennial arms show, was the Ordnance Factory Board’s (OFB) reveal for its Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) to meet the Indian Army’s requirement. The OFB shared a video clip on its social media channels highlighting the FICV’s features. These span an enlarged hull equipped with hydrojet propellers that allow it to swim across bodies of water. The turret is armed with a 30mm cannon and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. A rectangular module on the turret’s side is supposed to carry two anti-tank missiles.

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