Showing posts with label Exotic Armour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exotic Armour. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

,

By Stijn Mitzer
 
The heavy infantry fighting vehicle (HIFV) concept has found little success with militaries around the world. Although the HIFV's heavy firepower and increased armour protection is of particular use during fighting in urban areas, the hefty pricetag of most HIFVs and their niche role have been enough to dissuade most militaries from ever acquiring them. Still, new HIFVs are designed to this day, with the Russian T-15 Armata, the Israeli Namer (HIFV) and the Chinese VT4 being some of the more recent examples. Of these, only the Namer has so far entered service.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

,

By Stijn Mitzer
 
The Otokar Cobra is one of the world's most successful infantry mobility vehicle (IMV) designs. Since the vehicle's inception in 1997, thousands of Cobra Is have been exported to more than twenty countries worldwide. Otokar would follow up on the original design with the improved Cobra II, which has meanwhile entered service with four more countries. Otokar has also designed a series of larger AFVs, of which the Arma APC and Tulpar IFV are arguably the most famous. Less well known is the export of Otokar Urals along with Cobra Is to Turkmenistan somewhere during the mid-2010s.

Rather than entering service with the Turkmenistan Army, the Otokar Urals were delivered to the Ministry of Internal Affairs while the State Border Service took possession of most if not all of the Cobra Is. The exotic blue camouflage pattern of the Ural IMVs contributes little to masking their presence in about any terrain imaginable, but with the service acting as the country's police force it can be argued that this is actually intended. Nonetheless, the 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun (HMG) installed in the cupola clearly suggests that the Ministry of Internal Affairs has an auxiliary combat task as well.

The more than hundred or so Cobras delivered to the country have been seen in several different camouflage patterns throughout their active career, which in Turkmenistan are known to change on a frequent basis. [1] The most recent one - seen during the 30th anniversary of independence parade in September 2021 - is broadly similar to some of the patterns worn by the soldiers of Turkmenistan's Ground Forces, albeit with far larger pixels or dots. Although arguably less spectacular than the pattern worn by the Urals, it's certainly more effective as an actual camouflage pattern.
 

Otokar Cobra I IMVs of the State Border Service on parade just outside of Ashgabat, September 2021.

Most of Turkmenistan's IMVs are equipped with a remote weapon station (RWS), and this also happens to be the case for the Cobra I fleet. In fact, a Cobra I fitted with a regular heavy machine gun cupola has only been sighted once in Turkmenistan. This consisted of a 12.7mm M2 HMG with a gunshield added, which however only provides meagre protection against incoming fire from the front. It appears plausible that this was a local modification, with most of the Cobra fleet armed with an Israeli IMI Wave 300 RWS fitted with a 12.7mm NSV RWS.
 

Note the Israeli IMI Wave 300 RWS.

Although the Otokar Ural's most plausible use in service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs would be crowd control, it can also act as a fast transport for up to seven police officers. The Cobra similarly seats up to seven border guards in addition to the driver and commander. Both vehicle types come with rear doors to allow fast embarkation and disembarkation when needed. The Cobra also has an additional side door and top hatch for use by the passengers, greatly increasing the opportunities of escape when the vehicle has been hit or is on fire.

Unlike most other IMVs in Turkmen service, both the Ural and Cobra feature protection of their windows against the impact of rocks or other debris that could otherwise damage the windscreen and obscure the view of the driver. When dealing with an enemy armed with conventional weaponry, the armour protection of both vehicle types is sufficient to protect its occupants against small arms fire, artillery shrapnel and to a limited degree against anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and IEDs. [2] [3]


Otokar has achieved significant success with its infantry mobility vehicles in Turkmenistan and other countries across the globe. The country currently seems poised to further increase the capabilities of its armed forces through the introduction of new arms and equipment. Perhaps this could one day see the introduction of more Otokar products. Currently operating a large fleet of BTR-80 APCs and BMP-2 IFVs inherited from the Soviet Union, Otokar is certain to one day offer its Arma APCs/IFVs and Tulpar IFVs to act as their replacements.

The Otokar Cobra II (left) and Otokar Arma 8x8 IFV (right).

 
Special thanks to Sonny Butterworth.

Friday, 7 January 2022

,

By Stijn Mitzer

Indonesia continues to field large numbers of light tanks. The oldest of these, the AMX-13/75 and the PT-76, operated by the Army and Marine Corps respectively, were originally required in the 1960s. Despite having been upgraded throughout their career to help them retain at least some form of combat efficiency, both types now lag far behind in firepower, armour protection and fire-control systems and are scheduled for replacement. While the Indonesian Marine Corps intends to replace all of its PT-76s with BMP-3 IFVs, the Indonesian Army selected the Turkish Kaplan MT medium tank to replace its aging AMX-13s. In Indonesia, the Kaplan is known as the Harimau (meaning Tiger).

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The future prospects of business with Turkmenistan must have looked promising for Russian arms manufacturers in the late 2000s, with a steady stream of orders for armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), helicopters and naval ships pouring in. However, after initially mostly relying on Russia to modernise its armed forces, orders for more Russian armament from Turkmenistan quickly began to dry up. Instead, Turkmenistan diversified its arms acquisitions to include a myriad of other nations' arms suppliers, at the cost of arms manufacturers in Russia and Ukraine.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

,

 
By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Certainly, no equipment of the mechanised forces is as unappreciated as armoured recovery vehicles. Generally operating in the rear of an advance and only seen when something went terribly wrong, they are nonetheless vital for any mechanised campaign to succeed in its aims. This is reflected in the inventories of most modern militaries worldwide, which nowadays often include sizeable numbers of ARVs and other armoured supporting vehicles. Owing to their importance in the field, the concept of the ARV has continuously evolved to keep up with new challenges and security threats.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan has accumulated a highly diverse arsenal of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) acquired from a plethora of countries worldwide. Intriguingly, many of those acquisitions appear to stem from an intention to increase ties with a particular country rather than actually fulfilling a genuine military requirement. This 'friendship through arms' policy comes at the cost of an increasingly complicated logistic system that by now has to source spare parts from more than a dozen countries for Turkmenistan's fleet of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) alone!

Monday, 15 November 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Armoured warfare in Afghanistan diminished drastically after the 2001 United States invasion of the country. While past regimes and factions relied heavily on the use of armour as fire-support platforms, the U.S.-led Coalition saw little use for heavy armour by the new Afghan National Army (ANA). Plans to re-equip the only remaining armour unit of the ANA with M60A3 tanks were eventually shelved as a result, and only through sheer dedication did the ANA managed to cling on to a single tank battalion. [1]

Saturday, 13 November 2021

,

 
By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
Relatively little is known about Armenia's weapon industry since its inception in the mid-1990s. Despite the unveiling of several promising projects in the decades since, most of its designs were destined to never leave the drawing board or progress beyond prototype status due to a lack of funding and interest from the Armenian Army. Nonetheless, a number of designs that did ultimately see the light of day serve as a reminder that such an industry survives to some degree.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

,

By Thomas Nachtrab in collaboration with Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Malian Armed Forces used to operate large quantities of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) received from the Soviet Union. In addition to acquiring sizeable numbers of T-54B MBTs, PT-76 light tanks and BTR-60 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), several more types operated in the shadows of their more numerous counterparts. One of these types is the 9P133 Malyutka, an anti-tank variant of the BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle. Instead of the original turret, the 9P133 features an elevatable launcher with six 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). 

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans in collaboration with Alper Akkurt
 
Turkey's arms industry currently offers a variety of both wheeled and tracked APC designs for sale to clients home and abroad. Many of these incorporate features such as remote weapon stations or even electric drive propulsion. Undoubtedly owing to their advanced capabilities and their proven quality, Turkish APCs have found commercial success in Georgia, Bahrain, the Philippines, Oman, the UAE and Malaysia. We previously reported on Turkey's first (truly indigenous) APC design, the Nurol Ejder 6x6 produced by Nurol Makina, which was later acquired by Georgia. While respectable in its own right, the Ejder 6x6 is actually not the first APC design to have come out of Turkey.

Monday, 1 November 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Tigray’s missile war with Ethiopia and Eritrea was a rare instance of a non-state actor capturing short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and long-range guided rockets and subsequently using them to attack targets in Ethiopia and the capital of a different country entirely: Eritrea. [1] Despite being a notable event in modern history, the Tigray missile war nonetheless received very little attention in international media. And as quickly as the attacks occurred, the threat subsided again, with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces apparently quickly destroying or recapturing the launchers and their missiles.

Friday, 29 October 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A number of attacks on Turkish patrols in northern Syria have brought Turkey and YPG forces to the brink of war. In response to the latest attack, which saw the death of one Turkish soldier, President Erdogan vowed to clear northern Syria from the YPG. [1] In order to achieve this, YPG (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – People's Protection Units, itself the primary faction in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance) forces would either have to leave the border region voluntarily or take up arms and fight the Free Syrian Army and Turkish military. In the latter case, the YPG's armour is undoubtedly set to play a role as the faction's primary fire-support platforms. This article attempts to catalogue the YPG's fleet of AFVs and other heavy weaponry and explain how its armoured force came to be.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

,


By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Syrian Arab Army's Armoured Divisions are well known for operating several types of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles upgraded with additional armour. Having performed these armour upgrades on a range of armoured fighting and support vehicles, one of the Armoured Divisions (1st AD) expanded its arsenal once more in 2016 by introducing a new type of multiple rocket launcher (MRL), popularly known as 'Shams', meaning Sun in Arabic. It's thought its nickname was derived from that of the aesthetically similar Russian TOS-1A 'Solntsepyok, which has been referred to as 'Sun' during its deployment by the Russian military in Syria.

Monday, 20 September 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The Ethiopian military operates a number of Russian weapon systems that otherwise have found little success on the export market. One of these, the Su-25TK 'Tankovy Buster', has already been covered in an earlier article on this site. Another system is the 2S19 Msta self-propelled gun (SPG), around a dozen of which are currently in service with the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF). Following the outbreak of hostilities in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, they are now amongst the many systems deployed to combat against the TDF.

Monday, 13 September 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The time when the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) almost solely relied on aging Soviet armament mixed in with some of their more modern Russian brethens is long gone. Over the past decade, Ethiopia has diversified its arms imports to include a number of other sources that presently include nations such as China, Germany, Ukraine and Belarus. Arguably more surprising is the presence of countries like Israel and the UAE in this list, which have supplied Ethiopia with a number of specialised weapon systems.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Like many Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan operates an exotic fleet of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) it inherited from the Soviet Union or purchased from other nations in the past decades. The latter acquisitions manifested themselves in the sourcing of modern AFVs like the T-90S, BMP-3 and BTR-80A from Russia, and large numbers of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) from countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE and China. Other sources of AFVs include the United States, Austria and Belarus, together culminating in a highly diverse arsenal of military vehicles.

Monday, 14 June 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Ukrainian-delivered armament is prevalent in the inventories of numerous militaries across the world, and the country remains a go-to source for nations that seek to revitalise their militaries on a budget. Having inherited vast numbers of surplus armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), aircraft and naval vessels, and equally important, a military industry to support this equipment with overhauls and upgrades, Ukrainian weaponry has proved especially popular with nations in Africa and Asia. For these reasons, the Ukrainian military-industrial complex has concentrated much of its efforts on catering specifically to this export market.

Monday, 7 June 2021

,

 
By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
Relegated to the annals of history by the most of the world since roughly 1918, the YPG on the other hand remains an active user of so-called Sturmpanzers: uparmoured infantry support platforms that hearken back to their Second World War namesakes. Bulky and monstrous in appearance, these vehicles have begun to symbolise the YPG's resistance against Islamic State and Free Syrian Army forces that sought to dislodge the YPG from the territory it holds in Northern Syria on numerous occasions. While the presence of these DIY monstrosities in the ranks of the YPG is well-acknowledged, little attempts have been made at inventorising the types of Sturmpanzers in servicec. Thus, this article is long overdue.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

,

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Cuba is widely known for its former leader Fidel Castro, a surprisingly enduring devotion to communism and its world-renowned cigars, exporting the latter two to numerous countries across the globe. By contrast, its role as an exporter of arms remains much more obscure. While Cuba has begun converting and manufacturing a wide range of arms-related equipment in recent times, this industry has so far mostly been serving the needs of Cuba's own Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR). The presence of Cuban 'David' infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs) in service with the Forças Armadas Angolanas is thus highly notable.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

,


By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 
 
The turn of the 21st century marked the start of a period of decay for Ukraine's military, with masses of military hardware facing early retirement while replacements for its surviving inventory were nowhere in sight. The 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and the war in Donbas brought about a dramatatic reversal of this policy, and factory yards previously filled with surplus tanks began to be emptied to reinforce the ranks of the battered Ukrainian military. This has so far resulted in the reactivation of hundreds of T-64, T-72 and T-80 main battle tanks (MBTs) and BMP infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).