Showing posts with label Small Arms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small Arms. Show all posts

Saturday, 4 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Though mostly operating weaponry purchased from countries like Russia, Ukraine and China, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has occassionally looked elsewhere for the acquisition of arms and equipment. This has included defence manufacturers of countries like Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, whose products have been widely introduced with the ENDF. [1] [2] One such product is the 5.56mm IWI Tavor TAR-21 bullpup assault rifle, significant numbers of which would enter service with elite units of Ethiopia's security apparatus during the late 2000s.

Monday, 4 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
The continued delivery of arms and equipment to the war-thorn country of Ethiopia remains largely unreported on, and its impact on the situation on the ground is at the moment largely unknown. What is known however is that the constant attrition of Ethiopia's military arsenal has led the country to scrounge the planet for anyone willing to supply it with additional weaponry, which has even included Mohajer-6 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Iran. These UCAVs now operate alongside Israeli and Chinese designs, showing just how complicated the modern day network of foreign arms suppliers has become.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Some 8 years years after its official retreat from Turkey, the PKK continues to wage guerrilla warfare and conduct infiltrations into Turkey from their mountainous fortresses in Northern Iraq. Dead set on eliminating this threat, the Turkish Armed Forces frequently launch offensives into PKK-controlled areas to neutralise hideouts and weapons caches. In an effort to counter these heliborne incursions and the threat of attack helicopters, the PKK uses a variety of locally improved heavy machine guns and cannons to target helicopters and the personnel disembarking from them.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Most of the Gulf countries are generally reticent when it comes to showing off their defence capabilities and recent acquisitions of military hardware. Although a high degree of secrecy surrounding the acquisition of ballistic missile systems from North Korea and China by the UAE and Saudi Arabia is to be expected, in the Gulf region this secrecy often also applies to conventional weaponry such as artillery and even small arms. For Qatar, the situation is slightly different: while it does showcase most of its weaponry during its annual National Day parades, surprisingly little equipment gets shown during military exercises and other events. 
 
In similar vein, Qatar's acquisition of the Russian AK-12 assault rifle remains largely unreported, and imagery indicating their presence outside military parades so far appears to be nonexistent. Its relative elusiveness set aside, the delivery of the AK-12 is a testament to the increasing flow of Russian-made weaponry reaching countries in the Gulf region, which almost exclusively relied on arms sourced from Western countries in the past. Qatar is the first confirmed export customer of the new assault rifle, which only entered serial production in 2017.
 
Qatar's interest in Russian-made weaponry first came to light in 2016 and 2017, when it signed a series of agreements with Russia on military-technical cooperation during bilateral visits to Doha and Moscow. [1] [2] [3] Although what exactly these agreements entailed was at the time still unknown, the first sighting of Russian weaponry in Qatar already came a year later in December 2018, when hundreds of AK-12 rifles were seen in the hands of Qatari soldiers marching through Doha Corniche during that year's National Day parade.
 
Months before, in July 2018, the Russian envoy to Qatar confirmed reports that Qatar and Russia had signed an arms deal for small arms and anti-tank missiles. [4] Included in the deal were large numbers of AK-12s, 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and even 9K338 Igla-S (NATO designation: SA-24) MANPADS. Another type of Russian weapon system Doha showed interest in was the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, although an actual acquisition of the S-400 by Qatar is highly unlikely due to the threat of sanctions by the U.S. [4]
 
 
Forging new friendships
 
Traditionally a customer of arms and equipment from France and later the US, the Qatar diplomatic crisis that lasted from 2017 to 2021 saw Qatar diversifying its procurement efforts to now also include Russia as a supplier of weaponry. This was a notable change in relations from the early 2010s, when fundamental differences over the course of the Syrian Civil War significantly strained Doha's relations with Moscow. Qatar's warming ties with Russia can in this respect be seen to be underlined by the acquisition of weaponry. Today Qatar and Russia are working together in a joint attempt to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Syria, showing just how swiftly relations can shift in this diplomatically competitive corner of the globe.
 
 
Familiar shapes, novel features
 
The 5.45×39mm AK-12 is the latest in the series of highly popular assault rifles designed and produced by the Kalashnikov Concern (formerly known as Izhmash). Entering production some 70 years after the inception of the original AK-47, the shape and design philosophy of the first AK can still be readily appreciated in the new design. Nonetheless, the AK-12 represents an improvement in almost every aspect versus the AK-74M it replaces. Most notably, the AK-12 has a free-floating barrel (allowing for increased accuracy), a modular design with picatinny rails and improved ergonomics compared to past iterations in the AK series.
 
Some might still know the AK-12 for its prototype design, which suffered from a number of defects and was later abandoned in favour of the more basic AK-400 design, which ultimately became the finalised model of the AK-12. As it was the prototype design that almost exclusively featured in video games, to many a casual observer the AK-12 designation will still belong to this progenitor. In addition to Qatar, Armenia has also been speculated to be a possible customer of the AK-12, potentially even setting up a production line for the type. [5] At the same time, since it is currently in the process of reequipping its military with license-produced AK-103s any large scale acquisition of AK-12s as well as the latter theory appears unlikely.
While the actual number of rifles bought by Qatar remains unknown, it is almost certain that the AK-12 isn't destined to become the new service rifle of its armed forces. This has as much to do with the fact that Qatar doesn't have a main service rifle, with units making use of the FN FNC, M4 and M16, as with a 2018 agreement with Italy for the local production of ARX160 and ARX200 assault rifles. [6] The ARX160 has enjoyed significant success in the Gulf region, with neighbouring Bahrain even adopting it as its main service rifle. In addition to the ARX-160 and AK-12, several more types of modern assault rifles are fielded by Qatar's Armed Forces, mostly with its special forces units.
 
 
Based on the parade footage alone, it appears that most of the AK-12s were distributed to the Qatar Special Operations Command (Q-SOC) and possibly the Qatar Amiri Guard as well. It is possible that the AK-12 will see limited usage by special forces units only, by which its robustness and reliability in water, sand and dusty environments should be especially treasured.
 

Though the acquisition of AK-12s from Russia is notable, it doesn't necessarily signify the start of a wholesale shift in its allegiance as an arms customer. Instead, Qatar is likely to continue to diversify its procurement efforts in the future, which could entail more arms purchases from other sources, with NATO weapons operating alongside an arrangement of weapons sourced from Russia and China as a result. As Qatar looks to expand its indigenous defence industry most notably through Barzan Holdings  – at least a portion of such weaponry will likely be produced or assembled in Qatar as well, as is the case with the ARX160 and ARX200. To Qatar, such projects will be attractive as a means to increase its independence as much as to increase its military prowess – to which end the AK-12 will certainly not be the last means.


[2] Qatar looking for defence cooperation with Russia https://www.qatar-tribune.com/news-details/id/82421
[3] Qatar, Russia sign agreements on air defense, supplies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-qatar-military-idUSKBN1CV11E
[4] Russia and Qatar discuss S-400 missile systems deal TASS https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-qatar-arms-idUSKBN1KB0F0
[5] Armenia will be the first country to purchase AK-12 assault rifles https://arminfo.info/full_news.php?id=54485&lang=3
 

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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Armenia's small population and limited economic means force the country to come up with creative solutions to address the obsolescence of its military hardware and to introduce entirely new capabilties to its armed forces. Through the years this has led to a highly active R&D industry that has received little media attention outside of its own borders. While most of its projects never progressed beyond prototype status due to a lack of funding, those with a more limited scope (thus requiring less financial commitment) usually had more success. 

Saturday, 6 February 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of Armenia isn't particularly well known for its military industry, and its arms exports have hitherto remained undocumented. Despite being the host of a promising arms R&D scene throughout much of the 1990s, a lack of funding and orders halted further development before it ever had the chance to really take off. Although offshoots of its designs would later become popular in Chechnya and with criminals throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), this is where the exploits of Armenia's small arms industry were thought to have ended. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

With Russian military support to the Syrian government having been brought to an entirely new level in the past month and international media focussed on the influx of aircraft and armoured vehicles to Syria, little has yet been uncovered about the extent of new small arms deliveries to the regime. However, the Russian Vesti state-owned news channel aired footage of Syrian soldiers equipped with British-made Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Magnum (AWM) sniper rifles on the 27th of September, revealing a wider procurement policy than previously thought.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

Several new developments in North Korean armaments can be witnessed amongst the recent flow of propaganda released by Pyongyang after Kim Jong Un's ascension to power. One such development is what appears to be a new magazine model for the North Korean copy of the AK-74, the Type 88. This new magazine uses a staggered helix design, which allows for a high number of 5.45 x 39 mm cartridges to be carried without the notable increases in size and unwieldiness that characterise many other high capacity magazines.