Showing posts with label Turkmenistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkmenistan. Show all posts

Monday, 14 February 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

The Central Asian region isn't exactly well-known for its armed-drone prowess. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan currently operate small numbers of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), with Kyrgyzstan having entered the age of drone-powered warfare only in late 2021. [1] Whilst Uzbekistan possesses a modest unmanned aerial reconnaissance capability in the form of several RQ-11 Ravens received from the US in 2018, it can be argued that only one Central Asian country has been expanding its unmanned arsenal to keep up with the newest trends: Turkmenistan.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The success of Chinese-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) once seemed unstoppable, with countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa acquiring ever larger numbers of Wing Loong and CH-series of UCAVs. This impressive sales record seems to have had little to do with an apparent preference for Chinese UCAVs however. Rather, the UCAV market featured very little competition during the first half of the last decade, particularly if the country looking to acquire UCAVs didn't have the luxury of being able to purchase arms from the United States.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

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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.

Monday, 10 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer
 
The Soviet Union is famous for the extravagant metro systems constructed in the cities of a number of Soviet republics. Major cities like Minsk, Tashkent, Moscow and Baku are all home to metro lines with lavishly decorated stations. The capitals of Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were simply too small to make the construction and operation of expensive metro systems feasible. This still holds true for most cities in Central Asia today, with many cities still relying on buses and marshrutkas (shared taxis) to get from one place to another.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer

Turkmenistan is a large recipient of Israeli arms and equipment, so far including weaponry like the TAR-21 assault rifle and several types of infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs). Arguably lesser known is Turkmenistan's inventory of Israeli-produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This until 2021 consisted of familiar types like the Elbit Skylark and Aeronautics Defense Orbiter 2B, both solely used for reconnaissance missions. These were acquired in the early-2010s, presenting Turkmenistan's first UAVs that were not target drones inherited from the Soviet Union.

Friday, 31 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan is on the largest aircraft-buying spree in the history of the country. This has so far seen the acquisition of M-346 and A-29B combat aircraft, C-27J NG transport aircraft and Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs for the Turkmen Air Force, and a fourth Boeing 777-200LR airliner and two Airbus A330-200P2F cargo aircraft for Turkmenistan Airlines. [1] [2] Also acquired are a single Kazan Ansat and one Mi-17-1V helicopter to provide emergency ambulance services throughout the country. [3] The helicopters were delivered in April and May 2021, entering service with Turkmenistan Airlines, which operates the helicopters on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry. [4] 

Thursday, 16 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkmenistan is a major purchaser of Italian goods, armament and (notably) marble. Its capital Ashgabat has been recognised by Guinness World Records as having the world's highest density of buildings made from white marble, earning it the nickname of 'white city'. [1] The country's affection for anything Italian is carried over in the inventory of the Turkmen Armed Forces, with anything from combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and anti-ship missiles having been purchased from Italy in recent years. [2] [3] The Italian ARX-160 is also the armed forces' standard issue service rifle, and this year's independence parade showed that arms purchases from Italy are still very much ongoing. [4]

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

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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.

Monday, 6 December 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan operates a number of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designs acquired from China. Apart from the ubiquitous CH-3A, which has also been exported to Nigeria, Algeria, Myanmar and Pakistan, the Turkmenistan Air Force also acquired a unique drone design that has yet to enter service with any other country in the world: The WJ-600A/D. This unconventional unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is one of the few armed drones in the world that performs a rocket-assisted take-off (RATO), subsequently landing by parachute after completing its mission.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

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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!

Sunday, 3 October 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
A military parade was held in Ashgabat on September 27, 2021 in celebration of Turkmenistan's 30th anniversary of independence. Rows of Western, Russian and Chinese weapon systems were paraded, once again highlighting the serious investments the country has made into its military over the past decade. Nonetheless, it was relatively conservative in terms of the display of major new systems except for the debut of the newly-acquired Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) and Israeli Sky Striker loitering munition. Also showcased during the naval section of the parade was the Deniz Han, the Turkmenistan Navy's new corvette and currently the most powerful warship in the Caspian Sea. The parade can be watched in its entirety here.

Monday, 27 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Turkmenistan held a military parade on Monday, September 27, to mark the 30th anniversary of achieving independence from the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan's lavish parades are the perfect occasion for showcasing its latest military acquisitions. 2007 saw President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow taking over power from Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Türkmenbaşy meaning: Head of the Turkmen), who quickly introduced a set of new measures and policies aimed at strengthening the country's military.
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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan's latest display of military might, in the form of a parade commemorating the 30th anniversary of achieving independence, once again featured the lavish marches, horse displays and rows of armoured fighting vehicles any international spectator has come to expect from the secluded Central Asian nation. Also showcased during this year's iteration of the parade were the country's newly-acquired Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Some 30 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the inventories of many post-Soviet air forces are still very much defined by the Soviet-era aircraft types they inherited. This is especially true for combat aircraft, the expensive price tag of which has dissuaded many nations from acquiring new types to replace older generations currently in service. Instead, proven types such as the MiG-29 and Su-25 undergo overhauls again and again in an attempt to not only keep them flying, but also to keep them relevant in the age of 21st century warfare.

Monday, 9 August 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan has embarked on an ambitious re-equipment programme with the aim of modernising its air force through the acquisition of various types of new combat and transport aircraft. This acquisition drive has included types like the M-346 combat jet aircraft and the C-27J NG transport aircraft that have both been ordered from Italy. Another introduction that had been anticipated is the Brazilian A-29B Super Tucano turboprop light attack aircraft, which has so far been bought by more than fifteen countries around the globe. Turkmenistan was long rumoured to have been eying the acquisition of the popular attack aircraft, and one Super Tucano was even tested in the country for a short period in 2019.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

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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, 22 March 2021

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Turkmenistan almost certainly isn't the first nation that comes to your mind when you consider the naval balance in the Caspian Sea. Nonetheless, a continued naval build-up has meanwhile transformed the nation into the strongest naval power in the region, even surpassing Russia in this regard. This is in no small part due to Turkey's Dearsan Shipyard, which has supplied the Turkmen Naval Forces with almost the entirety of its modern inventory of vessels.

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.