India Orders More Domestically Produced Self-Propelled Artillery Systems

Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.

Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.

“A large number of these guns will be specially modified with uprated engines to operate in the high altitude cold deserts of Ladakh and Sikkim.”

In August 2020, the Indian government introduced the first of several import ban lists for the armed forces.  These lists included various items that the armed forces must procure from Indian manufacturers as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, which Modi introduced in 2014.  Indian officials had hoped the initiative would help the country’s defense industry develop, but it has had limited results in the years since as the Indian armed forces have often looked abroad to acquire various weapons and equipment.  The accompanying excerpted articles report on two recent developments aimed to improve the country’s defense industry and meet operational requirements.

The first article from English-language independent news magazine India Today reports that the Indian government cancelled multiple deals to acquire new systems and that “this decision is being viewed as a strong message to the domestic defence sector.”  The article notes that “many other deals are under review,” including one for a “Russian VSHORAD (very short-range air defence) missile system for the Army.”  The article also mentions that this decision came after a review meeting last year, during which officials believed additional measures needed to be taken to better fulfill the “Make in India” initiative.

The second article from India Today reports that India’s defense ministry is preparing to “place a repeat order of 200 more 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers” and that it is the “largest order placed with an Indian private sector defence firm.”  The article notes that the defense ministry previously purchased 100 K-9 Vajras and put these into service “with the Indian army’s three strike corps ranged across the plains of the Punjab and the semi-deserts of Rajasthan.”  It also mentions that the Indian Army deployed a few K-9s into Ladakh last year as part of a trial and that the systems are designed to operate in mountainous terrain with a harsh climate. 

Overall, it is unclear what domestic substitutes Indian officials will look for in response to the cancelled deals.  The order for more K-9s is not mentioned as a replacement for a cancelled deal, though it will provide India’s defense industry with a boost and the systems can operate on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.  The reports show how Indian officials are now pushing harder to improve the country’s defense industry.


Manjeet Negi, “Govt cancels chopper, missile import deals under ‘Make in India’ push,” India Today (English-language independent news magazine), 14 January 2022.

The central government has cancelled multiple deals for the purchase of short-range Surface-to-Air missiles and a tender for the purchase of 14 choppers for the Indian Coast Guard. This decision is being viewed as a strong message to the domestic defence sector.

A decision in this regard was taken during a meeting of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi on Friday…Many other deals are under review, including the purchase of six more P-8I surveillance aircraft and Klub anti-ship cruise missiles for the Navy and Russian VSHORAD (very short-range air defence) missile system for the Army.

The initiative came after PM Modi chaired a review meeting with officials of the Ministry of Defence last year…Officials who attended the meeting last year felt that strong measures need to be taken to ensure that the country moves firmly towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector…

Source: Sandeep Unnithan, “What’s behind a massive order for Made-in-India howitzers,” India Today (English-language independent news magazine), 23 January 2022.

The defence ministry has begun moving files to place a repeat order of 200 more 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers worth over Rs 10,000 crore.

This significant order, to be placed with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) sometime this year, is the largest order placed with an Indian private sector defence firm and is a potential booster dose for the government’s plan to modernise the military, create an industrial defence base and reduce defence imports.

… L&T had delivered 100 K-9 Vajras for Rs 4,500 crore in partnership with South Korean defence firm Hanwha Defense. The contract was signed in May 2017 and the 100th gun delivered to the army on February 2021…

… A new order, which could be placed by this year, will see the guns start to roll out of Hazira by 2023 with all deliveries completed before 2028… The army’s five existing regiments of Vajras (each regiment has 18 guns, not counting the two in reserve) were acquired not for the mountains, but to operate with the Indian army’s three strike corps ranged across the plains of the Punjab and the semi-deserts of Rajasthan.

… Late last year, three K9s were moved up into eastern Ladakh on a trial basis. A senior artillery officer in the Udhampur-based Northern command was a key mover behind this unusual deployment. The guns drove up from Leh to the forward areas of eastern Ladakh on their own power (instead of a tank transporter-trailer), demonstrating their ability to operate independently…

What seemed to have been forgotten was that these guns had been originally designed to operate in South Korea, a rugged mountainous country with a hostile neighbor and with climatic conditions that could mimic those of eastern Ladakh…

Image Information:

Image: Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.
Attribution: CC BY SA 4.0

U.S. CAATSA Sanctions Hurt Turkey’s Defense Agreements with Third Parties

Turkey’s T-129 ATAK Helicopter.

Turkey’s T-129 ATAK Helicopter.

“The US’s military embargo against Turkey has resulted in the loss of an important contract.  Pakistan decided against the ATAK helicopters it was waiting to buy from TUSAŞ [Turkish Aerospace Industries]…”

In April 2021, the U.S. government started imposing the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Turkey because of Turkey’s purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia, making Turkey the first NATO member to be subject to these sanctions.  The accompanying article from the pro-government examines the first example of a Turkish defense contract with a third country, in this case Pakistan, falling through due to the CAATSA sanctions.  The excerpt reports that Pakistan has cancelled a $1.5 billion contract to buy 30 of the type T-129 ATAK combat helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries.  As the passage reports, American Honeywell made the helicopters’ turboshaft engine, so permission was needed from the United States for an export license, which could not be granted becaue of the CAATSA sanctions.  The passage also notes Pakistan has now turned to China to buy their Z-10ME combat helicopters.

In addition to the defense deals with third parties falling through, like this example with Pakistan, the CAATSA sanctions also have other, less quantifiable negative impacts on the Turkish defense industry.  As the second excerpt from an interview with a Turkish defense expert featured on via YouTube points out, the Turkish defense industry has effectively become “contaminated” or “blacklisted.”  He predicts that any Western country, or any “non-Western country wanting to have good relations with the U.S.” will have major reservations about doing business with the Turkish defense industry.  He notes this is not a technical issue, but a diplomatic one.


“ABD taş koydu, Pakistan ATAK helikopterinden vazgeçti! 1,5 milyar dolarlık anlaşma iptal (The USA prevented it, Pakistan [changed its mind] on the ATAK helicopter! The $1.5-billion-dollar deal is cancelled),” (Turkish pro-government news site), 5 January 2022.

The US’s military embargo against Turkey has resulted in the loss of an important contract.  Pakistan decided against the ATAK helicopters it was waiting to buy from TUSAŞ [Turkish Aerospace Industries] for three years.  The 1.5 billion dollar contract, which was the biggest export deal [in a single contract] for the Turkish defense industry, foresaw the sale of 30 combat helicopters to Pakistan. 

But the T129 ATAK helicopters’ LHTEC CTW800-4A turboshaft engine is made by the American company Honeywell, so permission was needed from the US for an export license.  Despite Ankara’s communication efforts, no official response was received from Washington.  The attitude of the White House and Congress resulted in Turkey losing this 1.5 billion dollar contract. 

The T-129 ATAK helicopters had been tested by the Pakistani Army multiple times in difficult terrains, and had successfully proven that it was the most effective combat helicopter in its class.  The ATAK helicopter had garnered great admiration from Pakistani pilots, but are unable to reach [those pilots] due to the U.S. preventing the process. 

…The sad development for the Turkish defense industry, was announced by Pakistani military spokesperson Babar Iftikar in a press briefing.  Iftikhar said, in response to a question, that they have decided against the T-129 ATAK purchase from Turkey due to the delays, and have instead started talks with China to buy their Z-10ME combat helicopter.  The U.S.’s blockage of Turkey enabled China to export more products.

Source: Işın Eliçin with Mevlütoğlu, “Trump yönetiminden Ankara’ya S-400 yaptırımları – Konuk: Arda Mevlütoğlu (S-400 sanctions to Ankara by the Trump Administration – Guest: Arda Mevlütoğlu),” via YouTube (reputable, independent Turkish media platform), 15 December 2020,

In a way, the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate (SSB) has been contaminated / blacklisted.  In this case, other Western countries or companies, or any non-Western country that has or wants to have good relations with the U.S. and their institutions, may have reservations regarding doing business with Turkeys Defense Industry Directorate… This is not a directly technical issue, it’s more of a diplomatic issue.

Image Information:

Image: Turkey’s T-129 ATAK Helicopter.
Source: wiltshirespostter, via Wikimedia Common  (14662033896).jpg
Attribution: CC BY-SA 2.0

Peruvian President Castillo Oversees Dizzying Turnover in Government

The swearing-in of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo.

The swearing-in of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo.

“Castillo also recalled the political instability that Peru has experienced in the last five years, where there have been up to four presidents and a dissolved Congress.”

Peru’s President, Pedro Castillo, has had trouble retaining ministers.  Castillo announced yet another new cabinet—the fourth in his six-month tenure, according to Spanish-language CNN en Español.  Such rapid cabinet turnover has contributed to a sense of chaos engulfing the country and mounting questions over the president’s ability to survive the rest of his term.  Castillo’s approval ratings have fallen steadily since his inauguration.  Shortly after swearing in the new cabinet, the Spanish-language version of the popular British outlet BBC en Español, began reporting on scandals in the personal lives of newly appointed ministers.  The outlet reports that the hoped for centrist cabinet did not materialize; rather, most of Castillo’s chosen ministers are loyalists and Marxists from his Free Peru Party.  In recent years, Peru’s political climate has been highly volatile.  Presidents have rarely finished their terms.  In 2020, the country had three presidents in just one week.  Peru’s constitution pits the Congress against the President, with the Congress capable of impeaching the president for the vague and ill-defined idea of “moral incapacity.”  Peru’s political instability has the potential to spill over into international supply chains: the country is the second largest producer of copper in the world, and the sector has seen recent strikes at mining sites connected to the political environment.


“Pedro Castillo anuncia que nombrará a nuevo gabinete, su cuarto en seis meses (Pedro Castillo announces that he will appoint a new cabinet, his fourth in six months),” CNN en Español (Spanish-language version of the popular U.S. outlet), 4 February 2022.   

Castillo will appoint a new president of the Council of Ministers, who, in turn, will appoint new heads of ministries.  It will be the fourth cabinet in just six months of government…Castillo also recalled the political instability that Peru has experienced in the last five years, where there have been up to four presidents and a dissolved Congress, and said that citizens, especially the poorest “do not want to see more confrontations, nor obstructionist and anti-democratic behavior, nor vacancy announcements, announcements of the closing of Congress.”

Source:  “Pedro Castillo nombra su cuarto gabinete en 6 meses, ¿por qué no consigue estabilizar a Perú? (Pedro Castillo appoints his fourth cabinet in 6 months, why can’t he stabilize Peru?),” BBC en Español (Spanish-language version of the popular British outlet), 5 February 2022.

The last government of Peru lasted just over 72 hours.  The ministerial cabinet that was sworn in by President Pedro Castillo on Tuesday, the fourth government in six months, is expected to last a little longer…The truth is that the short life of Castillo’s cabinets has exposed the instability that has characterized his presidency.  Since he came to power against all odds, Castillo has alternated executives of diverse orientation, which has led his critics to accuse him of leading the country in an erratic direction, and several of his ministers had to resign in the midst of the scandal and challenged in Congress.

Image Information:

Image caption:  The swearing-in of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo.
Source:  Flickr,
Attribution: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Colombia’s Constitutional Court Halts Push for Aerial Spraying of Coca Crop

Aerial spraying of glyphosate.

Aerial spraying of glyphosate.

“The environmental authority could not make a decision about the modification… without first carrying out the process of prior consultation with all the ethnic communities likely to be affected by the spraying activity.”

In January, Colombia’s constitutional court halted President Iván Duque’s plan to return to aerial spraying of glyphosate as a means of eradicating coca.  According to an article posted in one of Colombia’s oldest dailies El Tiempo, the court stopped the order because the Colombian state had not sufficiently guaranteed the communities impacted by the decision to return to aerial spraying the right to prior consultation.  Prior consultation is a process that will take many months to complete, effectively shelving the decision on aerial spraying.  Environmental authorities, in conjunction with the police, will have to complete this process in accordance with regulations set forth by the constitutional court, according to center-leftArgentine news outlet Infobae.  The outlet states that in 2020, Colombia had nearly 150,000 hectares of coca cultivation.  Despite intensifying a program of manual coca crop eradication after signing a peace deal with guerrillas in 2016, Colombian officials want to return to aerial eradication to deal with a resurgence in violence and drug trafficking.  The timeline for a final decision outlined by the court kicks the decision into the ongoing presidential election, forcing candidates to debate the issue.  It also comes at a time when Colombia’s instability is high and its violence surging due to the expansion of drug trafficking activity along the border regions with Venezuela.


“Glifosato: Corte tumba plan de manejo ambiental y ordena consulta previa (Glyphosate: Court buries environmental management plan and orders prior consultation),” El Tiempo (one of Colombia’s oldest dailies generally described as politically-centrist), 20 January 2022.  

The environmental authority could not make a decision about the modification… without first carrying out the process of prior consultation with all the ethnic communities likely to be affected by the spraying activity, taking into account that the court itself noticed partial overlaps between these groups and the areas of influence of the project… The Court determined that in the process, in effect, the right to participation of the peasant communities residing in the municipalities where the program will eventually be carried out was ignored.

Source:  “Corte frustra planes de Duque de reanudar fumigaciones antidrogas en Colombia (Court frustrates Duque’s plans to resume anti-drug spraying in Colombia),” Infobae (Argentine news outlet generally seen as center-left politically), 19 January 2022.   

In 2020, Colombia had 143,000 hectares of coca, the plant that serves as the raw material for cocaine, according to the most recent UN report.  The government, which links drug trafficking with the resurgence of violence after the peace process with the Marxist guerrillas in 2016, intensified the program of manual eradication of drug crops.  However, the government insisted on the need to fumigate with glyphosate to significantly reduce the cultivation area.

Image Information:

Image caption:  Aerial spraying of glyphosate. 
Source: Carolyn Parsons via Wikimedia,
Attribution:  CC BY-SA 4.0

Uganda and Rwanda Target Militants in Congo

Ugandan soldiers on parade.

Ugandan soldiers on parade.

“In order to fight them more effectively, our two countries [Uganda and DRC] have recently agreed to pool their efforts in order to carry out joint operations against this common enemy.”

The first accompanying excerpt from the Rwanda-centric media outlet discusses the continued counterterrorism collaboration of Rwanda’s neighbors, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The cooperation is meant to combat militants loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the insurgent Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), based in the DRC.  According to the article, the two countries’ forces have opened a second axis for launching an offensive against the ADF.  The article notes that originally Uganda entered the DRC with the DRC government’s permission because the ADF conducted two bombings in Kampala, but Uganda has increased coordination with the DRC to more effectively combat the ADF.

The second accompanying excerpt from the Ugandan publication also emphasizes a retaliatory objective for Uganda’s latest troop deployment to the DRC.  Besides the ADF’s bombings in Kampala, the group also began attacking markets located near Uganda’s northern border with the DRC.  After the ADF stole food and medicine and retreated, numerous displaced people crossed into Uganda, which created an additional humanitarian crisis for Uganda.  Further, the article notes the Ugandan army suspected that ADF members were operating in Uganda by disguising themselves as refugees.  This incentivized Uganda to enter the DRC to push the ADF back from the border.

As the final excerpt from the pro-government Rwandan daily notes, there is a growing perception that the conflict in the DRC is now a regional affair.  According to the article, Rwandan President Paul Kagame is calling for collective regional military action to combat the ADF and the Rwandan government is opening lines of communication with Uganda to resolve their border issues as another means to address the ADF’s regional threat.  In addition, the article mentions Rwanda’s increasing collaboration with Burundi to target other militia groups besides the ADF, and with Mozambique to combat ISIS-loyal militants in that country.  This suggests that Rwanda is increasingly acquiring regional military influence.


“Uganda Sends More Troops To DRC,” (Rwanda-centric media outlet), 3 February 2022.

Uganda’s government says it has sent an extra number of troops into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo to bolster its fight against the Allied Democratic Forces rebels. Last year in November, thousands of [Ugandan] troops crossed into DRC on invitation by President Félix Tshisekedi to “fight against armed groups, in particular the Ugandan rebels of the ADF”. Uganda gladly accepted the invitation and responded by conducting aerial and artillery bombardment of ADF bases deep in the jungles of DRC.

The attacks in October and November [2021] prompted the Ugandan military to deploy in eastern DRC in late November to take on the Islamist fighters.

Source: “Thousands of refugees flee into Uganda after an ADF attack,” (Ugandan publication covering Ugandan affairs for a global readership), 7 February 2022.

Uganda’s Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Esther Anyakun, said that the ADF reportedly broke into pharmacies and shops as residents fled at their approach. The rebels allegedly made off with food and medicine. The refugees that crossed into Uganda were registered by Uganda Red Cross with the help of the Office of the Prime Minister and The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR. Only days before this fresh influx of refugees, residents in Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts were advised not to accommodate refugees fleeing battle in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These refugees, Ugandan authorities said, would have to be reported to the Refugees’ Reception Center and be registered.

Source: “Security problems in DR Congo affect the whole region,” (pro-government Rwandan daily), 8 February 2022.

President Paul Kagame has called for collective efforts by regional leaders towards the end of security challenges in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly associated to armed militia groups based in the country. He said that Rwanda was ready to play her part in resolving the security challenges stemming from the neighbouring country. The head of state also weighed in on Rwanda’s ties with neighboring countries, which he said were on a promising trajectory.

Image Information:

Image: Ugandan soldiers on parade.
Photographer: Master Sergeant Carlotta Holley
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Mozambique Struggles with Post-Conflict Recovery in War Torn Cabo Delgado

Praça dos Heróis na cidade de Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, VOA.

Praça dos Heróis na cidade de Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, VOA.

“With the onset of the rainy and cyclone seasons, the cumulative impact of years of conflict and the worsening humanitarian emergency, it is more important than ever that Medicines Sans Frontiers teams have unrestricted and safe access to the area…”

On 4 February, the international affairs focused Brazilian publication published the excerpted article on northern Mozambique’s transition from active military conflict to post-conflict reconstruction.  According to the article, many civilians in Cabo Delgado remain displaced and lack medical care, while attacks by militants loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria persist.  For example, the militants carried out 20 attacks in the last two weeks of January, torching 2,800 homes and forcing 14,000 people to flee their villages.  The article indicates the military has retaken almost all the territory that the militants captured in 2021 but have not been able to prevent continued attacks on civilians.

Based on interviews with Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) personnel in the area, the article suggests that in addition to providing security, the military needs to find ways to provide medical care and protection against cyclones to aid displaced people.  If the military fails to do so, MSF warns the humanitarian crisis will spiral out of control, which will then affect the broader post-conflict recovery. 

In fact, further military support to Mozambique is expected in coming months. A 3 February article from South Africa-based noted that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa promised to continue South Africa’s deployment of 1,500 troops to Mozambique and allow for new investment to assist Mozambique’s post-conflict recovery.  According to the article, this will be essential to restoring normalcy to Cabo Delgado and allow for the reconstruction of northern Mozambique and the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis.  The article notes that Tanzania and Rwanda are also deploying forces to secure northern Mozambqiue and revitalize its economy, signaling a regional effort in ending the insurgency.


“Ataques e violência em Cabo Delgado deslocam milhares de pessoas no início da temporada de ciclones (Attacks and violence in Cabo Delgado displace thousands of people at the start of cyclone season),” (Portuguese language international affairs focused Brazilian publication), 4 February 2022.

A significant part of Cabo Delgado’s population is now extremely vulnerable to displacement and the lack of access to medical care. Local authorities have reported more than 20 attacks on four villages in the last two weeks with 2,800 homes damaged or destroyed by fire. This is the biggest wave of displacement in recent months. “Violent attacks and continued insecurity in several districts of central Cabo Delgado have led thousands of people to leave their homes with only what they could carry, just as the cyclone and rain season is starting,” says Raphael Veicht, chief of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency unit.

With the onset of the rainy and cyclone seasons, the cumulative impact of years of conflict and the worsening humanitarian emergency, it is more important than ever that MSF teams have unrestricted and safe access to the area so they can provide people with the necessary care. It is absolutely crucial that medicines and medical supplies can be imported quickly without bureaucratic delays.

Source: “’We are fighting to bring peace’: Ramaphosa visits insurgency-hit Mozambique,” (South Africa based on-line news), 3 February 2022.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited northern Mozambique, supporting the government’s latest effort to reassure neighbours and investors that an Islamist uprising is under control. Over the last week, Mozambique has tried to reassure neighbours and investors that their efforts are worthwhile. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited last Friday and TotalEnergies boss Patrick Pouyanne met Nyusi in Maputo on Monday. Rwandan forces last week also allowed journalists a rare visit, to see how life is slowly returning to some of the hardest-hit areas.

Image Information:

Image: Praça dos Heróis na cidade de Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, VOA.
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Yemen’s Houthis Employ Iranian “358” Loitering Anti-Aircraft Missile

One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).

One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).

“… It seems that Iran has transferred this type of missile to its allies in Yemen to test it against the American planes owned by the Saudi and Emirati air forces participating in the war…”

The Iranian “358” missile appears to be an increasingly important weapon for Yemen’s Houthi-led military forces.  The 358 missile is classified as surface-to-air, but in early January, it was seemingly used as a surface-to-surface missile to target the provincial leader of the pro-secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Shabwah Province.  On 14 January, a 358 was used to shoot down a Chinese-manufactured Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, according to several open-source analysts on Twitter.  It is unclear how many of these missiles are in Houthi possession.  Since 2019, several of them have been seized from Yemen-bound vessels in the Arabian Sea.  A 358 was also found in Iraq last October. 

According to an October 2021 article from the prominent Yemeni news website al-Masdar Online, the 358is a key Iranian weapon developed to counter U.S. aircraft, particularly UAVs.  The missile ships in three parts and once assembled can be launched from mobile positions, such as small trucks.  It does poorly against fast-moving targets but can be effective against helicopters and some UAVs.  The article from al-Masdar Online implies that it may be the Houthi-led military forces’ most effective air defense missile, potentially having been used to bring down a variety of aircraft, including an Apache helicopter, Wing Loong UAVs, Scan Eagle and RQ-20 UAVs manufactured by the United States, and the Karayel UAV manufactured by Turkey.  This sentiment is echoed by analysis from the Egyptian think tank Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, which considers the 358’s presence in Yemen and Iraq as indicative of “a new shift in Tehran’s strategy in using its proxies in the region,” one which puts new emphasis on defending against aerial attacks.


@3Mr_o_o (pro-Houthi, Iraq-based “Observer of political and military affairs”), Twitter, 3 January 2022.


The mercenary Ali al-Jabwani, head of the Transitional Council in Shabwa governorate, survived an attack in the Usaylan area yesterday. The images released from the attack show a missile similar to the famous 358 missile.

Source: @AlgerianAircra1 (Algeria-focused “Aircraft Tracker” account interested in “Aircraft News and Novelties related to Defense and Aviation”), Twitter, 14 January 2022.

It appears that the Houthis in Yemen have shot down another Wing Loong II UCAF aircraft from the Saudi coalition. Judging by the video, it seems that an Iranian missile known as the 358 was used – a large, relatively slow missile with large wings.


“من “صلاح الدين” العراقية الى “مارب” اليمنية.. صواريخ دفاع جوي إيرانية بأيدي مليشيات طهران

(From Iraq’s Salahuddin to Yemen’s Marib… Iranian Air Defense Missiles in the Hands of Tehran’s Militias),” al-Masdar Online (prominent Yemeni news website), 24 October 2021.

But the situation has changed significantly since mid-2019, when the Houthi militia announced in June that its air defenses had managed to shoot down a U.S.-made MQ9 drone in Hodeidah Governorate, using a “domestically developed” missile. In August of the same year, the militia’s military spokesman said: “We have the ability to neutralize a large number of enemy aircraft.”… It seems that Iran has transferred this type of missile to its allies in Yemen to test it against the American planes owned by the Saudi and Emirati air forces participating in the war. Iran considers this missile as its armor against American aircraft…


“تهديد الأجواء.. ما وراء حائط الصواريخ الإيراني في الشرق الأوسط

(Threat to the skies… Behind the Iranian missile wall in the Middle East),” Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (Egyptian think tank), 2 November 2021.

The unique design of this missile, and its subsequent reappearance in other regions in the Middle East, was an indication that it might be the main player in all the shootdowns that have taken place in Yemen recently, such as the downing of a “Scan Eagle” drone last June, in Serwah District, Marib Governorate … In sum, the appearance of the “358” missile in Iraq, and before that in Yemen (and it may have been used recently in Syria), indicates a new shift in Tehran’s strategy in using its proxies in the region. This strategy now includes air defense, after it was previously limited to missile power, and then drones.

Image Information:

Image: One of the five, near-fully assembled uniquely Iranian-designed and manufactured Three-Five-Eight surface-to-air missiles that were a part of the shipment seized by the USS FORREST SHERMAN in November (2019).
Source: CENCTCOM, Steve McLeod,
Attribution: Public Domain

Robot-Enhanced Vehicles Planned for Arctic Equipment Evacuation

“Arctic Troops will be equipped with robot tow-trucks and repair vehicles that will be capable of working with any damaged equipment at a Temperature of -50 or below.”

Special terrain requires special equipment, and Russia’s new recovery vehicles will improve its combat capabilities in the Arctic.  According to the pro-government newspaper Izvestiya, the Russian military has mounted the REM-KL recovery vehicle super structure on the tracked articulated multipurpose DT-30PM vehicle.  The REM-KL can reportedly pull 13 tons and its 9.8-meter hydraulic crane can lift 950 1-ton loads with a reach of 8 meters and 3 tons with a reach of 3 meters.  Its hydraulic winch has a traction force of 10.5 tons and a pulling force up to 20 tons.  Further, the MTR-K reconnaissance vehicle’s recovery capabilities, traditionally fitted on a wheeled chassis, are being fitted to the GAZ-3344-20 articulated tracked transport vehicle and being designated as the MTR-G.  The MTR-G’s reported lifting capacity is some 3 tons.  The MTR-G does double duty as an NBC reconnaissance vehicle.  The two new Arctic vehicles will work as a team to recover and repair ground forces equipment.  The addition of an on-board unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) search capability should greatly aid Russia’s ability to find broken-down and disabled vehicles in rugged terrain.   Russia employs such purpose-built tracked articulated vehicles in a variety of ways: as mobile kitchens and bakeries, mortar and artillery platforms, communications vehicles, command posts, troop transports, and supply vehicles.  They readily cross snow, ice, and swamps and can swim bodies of water.


Aleksei Ramm and Bogdan Stepovoi, “Северный почин: арктические войска вооружат роботами-эвакуаторами (Equipping the Arctic forces with robot tow trucks and repair vehicles),” Izvestia (Moscow based pro-government newspaper), 3 December 2021.

Arctic Troops will be equipped with robot tow-trucks and repair vehicles that will be capable of working with damaged equipment at a Temperature of -50 or below.  Special Arctic recovery and repair subunits will be incorporated into the Russian Ground Forces soon.  Special tow trucks and mobile repair shops, mounted on articulated prime movers are part of the subunit’s TO&E equipment.  Their primary advantage is their capability to tow a heavy vehicle at minus 50 degrees or below… The vehicles are robotized and permit the crew to accomplish their work without leaving the heated cab. If necessary, their equipment will help find a vehicle on the battlefield and eliminate the malfunction on the spot.  The arctic “repairmen” will be involved with not only trucks and armored vehicles.  They will be able to work with such complex types of weapons as S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, “Bal” and “Bastion” missile systems, and with future robotized platforms…. 

The evacuation and repair subunits will deploy to main garrisons and repair the entire range of ground forces equipment.  The REM-GT heavy repair and recovery vehicles and the MTR-G technical reconnaissance vehicles will become the main “work horses” of the arctic repair detachments that are already at a high degree of readiness.  The vehicles will undergo state tests in arctic conditions in the near future.  After this, the arctic subunits’ organization and staff structure will be determined. 

The new heavy-duty REM-GT repair and recovery vehicle is based upon the DT-30PM articulated tracked transport vehicle.  It is designed for maintenance, field repair, and recovery of all types of equipment, which are deployed in the arctic zones.  The MTR-G technical reconnaissance vehicle is mounted on the GAZ-3344-20 articulated tracked transport vehicle.  It will transport the maintenance subunits’ specialists to reach marooned equipment, assess its state, and render needed assistance on the spot. 

The new repair vehicles function in the Arctic and the Far North, Siberia, and the Far East.  At low temperatures or in wind squalls, the crew use the robotized manipulators to take even the heaviest models of military equipment undertow, without leaving the heated cab.

According to Military Expert Aleksey Khlopotov, “In northern conditions, the combat capability of the entire arctic grouping depends on the functions of the rear services units.  The new repair and recovery vehicles will precisely help to support them. The North is permafrost, snow during the winter and swamps in the summer.  The tracked all-terrain vehicles with low ground pressure have been adapted for operating in those conditions.  They will go where wheeled vehicles get stuck.  This will help provide repair and recovery of equipment on inaccessible terrain. 

Khlopotov pointed out that the DT-30PM articulated tracked transport vehicles are already well known in the Ground Forces.  The “Tor-M2DT” and “Pantsir-SA” are air defense missile systems that are part of the arctic force’s inventory and are also mounted on these vehicles. 

Vehicles for the recovery and repair of equipment are being delivered to the Ground Forces now.  The Ministry of Defense previously reported that the wheeled version of the powerful REM-KS would arrive in the Western Military District inventory by the end of 2021. They will conduct the recovery and repair of the “Iskander” short-range ballistic missile systems in the field.  The REM-GT and MTR-G will operate in tandem in field conditions and combat. The equipment reconnaissance specialist must first arrive at the location of the combat in order to assess the amount of work and damage.  If necessary, its crew will be able to assist the soldiers and officers to extract the stalled vehicle or to conduct minor repairs on the spot. 

The vehicle is equipped with navigation and night vision instruments, a 360-degree video surveillance system, and an unmanned aerial vehicle.   This package permits the conduct of searches at a distance of 10 kilometers at any time of day and practically in any weather.  It will also be indispensable in peacetime dung the conduct of search and rescue operations in accessible areas of the North.  The MTR-G has equipment for radiation and chemical reconnaissance.  During large-scale operations, the crew needs to know that the terrain is not contaminated with toxic agents and that the atmosphere does not pose a danger for personnel in order to begin work or to call for backup. 

The articulated REM-GT is capable of operating autonomously.  The all-terrain vehicle is equipped practically with that same suite of hardware as the maintenance reconnaissance vehicle but does not have an unmanned aerial vehicle.  The vehicle has been adapted for functioning in a cold climate to the maximum extent possible.  In particular, it has robot manipulators that can take any damaged equipment in tow.  The video cameras provide 360-degree visibility and assist the crew in this extraction.

Depending on the type of equipment, which they will have to repair, the crew can rapidly select or change the machine tool sets, the necessary spare parts, and the necessary expendable supplies.  These are located in the rear vehicle articulated compartments.  This stockage will permit the crew, without outside help, to repair ground force vehicles and tanks or the combat modules of air defense systems.  The time required for the REM-GT to prepare for movement at a temperature of -50 degrees is 30 minutes.

Izvestiya previously reported that repair and recovery regiments formed in each military district.  During combat, each of them is capable of forming several quick response teams, which will function in an autonomous mode directly at the front line.

Iran-Backed Iraqi Group Attacks Abu Dhabi with UAVs in Support of Yemen’s Houthis

Map of the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.

Map of the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.

“… the UAE has become vulnerable to attacks from more than one direction…”

A little-known group calling itself the “True Promise Brigades” claimed a 2 February attack on Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), involving multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  The group’s only other known prior activity was an early 2021 UAV strike on the Yamama Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  The Abu Dhabi attack caused no known material damage.  It came on the heels of a two-week span that saw Yemen’s Houthi-controlled military forces launch three separate missile and UAV attacks targeting Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two main cities in the UAE.  The timing of the True Promises Brigades’ attack implied a potential link between them and the Houthis, reinforced by supportive tweets from the Houthi-led forces’ influential military spokesman, such as the first accompanying tweet, in which the spokesman thanked the group.  On social media, the True Promise Brigades eschew national identification and call themselves “sons of the Arabian Peninsula.”  The second and third accompanying passages from pro-Iran outlets hint that the group operates from the Iraqi desert, is associated with Iran-backed Iraqi militias, and is under the command of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ international wing, the Quds Force.  The article from the pro-Iran Lebanese influential daily al-Akhbar argues that the Abu Dhabi attack is directly tied to Iraqi politics.  Specifically, the article’s author sees it as a response to perceived Emirati meddling in Iraqi politics and its support for factions opposed to Iranian influence in Iraq.  The article from the pro-Iran Lebanese media channel al-Mayadeen, meanwhile, places the attack in the context of Yemen and sees it as a response to coalition escalation in Yemen.  The attack’s key message, according to the article, is that Iranian allies are capable of linking the Yemeni and Iraqi arenas and conducting semi-coordinated actions targeting Saudi Arabia and the UAE from both directions.


Yahya Sare’e (Houthi-controlled military spokesman), Twitter, 3 February 2022.

We send our congratulations on the jihadist operation carried out by the True Promise Brigades-Sons of the Arabian Peninsula against the Emirati enemy yesterday, Wednesday. We thank them for this honorable, responsible and solidary stance with our dear people against the client Emirati enemy.


“المأزق الإماراتيّ يتعمّق: جبهة جديدة… من العراق

(The Emirati Impasse Deepens: A New Front… from Iraq),” al-Akhbar (pro-Iran influential Lebanese daily), 4 February 2022.

Whatever the group’s identity, the event itself confirms that the UAE has become vulnerable to attacks from more than one direction. This creates greater risks for Emirati security, against the background of its aggression in Yemen and its blatant interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. Washington seems to have handed over the file of the new ruling arrangement to the UAE following the October 10 elections, in which Muqtada al-Sadr, Massoud Barzani and Muhammad al-Halbousi achieved the largest victory, all of whom are allies or friends of Abu Dhabi. The latter has also moved closer to Turkey, allowing for arrangements to be made resulting in the unification of the al-Halbousi and Khamis al-Khanjar blocs, and the re-election of al-Halbousi, who is considered the UAE’s man in Iraq, as Speaker of the House of Representatives. This in turn opened the way for the installation of a “majority coalition” that excluded Iran’s allies, which is a great risk for Iraqi security and for which the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, bears responsibility…


“دخول “ألوية الوعد الحق” العراقيّة على خطِّ حرب اليمن.. اشتباك أو تشبيك؟

(Iraq’s ‘True Promises Brigades’’ Entry into the Yemen War… Clashes or Linking),” al-Mayadeen (pro-Iran Lebanese media channel), 8 February 2022.

This Iraqi group is very interested in the Yemen war, and it is almost specialized in it. In addition, it seems that it is interested in standing up to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular… It is very likely that the strike on Abu Dhabi carried a political message: “Don’t forget that the arenas can be linked when the time comes.” Let us note that the strike came after a crazy escalation carried out by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and after American supplies to Abu Dhabi, including warplanes, and the dispatch of the American destroyer “USS Cole” to the Gulf to support the UAE navy, and talk of a possible ground attack from the Yemeni coast… These intensive messages, whether military or political, come in the context of a clear linking of the arenas, especially since leaders in Ansar Allah wrote on their Twitter accounts that the confrontation would not be with Sanaa alone in the event of any major US invasion of Yemen.

Image Information:

Image:  Map of the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.
Source: Abuk Sabuk via Wikimedia Commons
Attribution: Public Domain

Russia and China To Help Iran Build New Airports

Tabriz International Airport, in northwest Iran.

Tabriz International Airport, in northwest Iran.

“In the long run, we need a number of world class international airports.”

Iran is a huge country, almost four times the size of Iraq and six times the size of the United Kingdom.  It can take eight hours or more to travel by road between Tehran and Isfahan or Isfahan to Shiraz.  In order to facilitate transport, the Iranian government has long subsidized domestic air travel.  The price of an Iran Air ticket from Tehran to its second largest city Mashhad, 560 miles away, is just $38 at the real exchange rate.  Other fares are cheaper. As such, domestic air travel is very popular among Iranians.

While the newer Imam Khomeini International Airport, in the desert between Tehran and Qom, handles most international flights, the older Mehrabad airport within Tehran’s city limit is the primary domestic hub serving the capitol. The excerpted article from pro-regime and security focused Fars News Agency examines Iranian government planning for the future of Iran’s national air transportation infrastructure and mentions completion of upgrades at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport.  It suggests that Iran is turning to both Russia and China to upgrade existing airfields and build ostensibly new “world class international airports,” that would necessitate large runways that could also accommodate Russian and Chinese military aircraft.


“Hamkari Chin va Rusiya ba Iran baraye Sakht-e Chandin Farudgah Bayn Almelli dar Sateh Jahani (China, Russia to Help Iran Build Several World-Class International Airports),” Fars News Agency (Iranian media outlet with close ties to the Iranian defense and security apparatus), 2 February 2022.

Siavash Amir Makri today told reporters on the sidelines of a commemoration marking the anniversary of the historic return of Imam Khomeini on 1 February 1979, and the inauguration of various projects at Mehrabad Airport that Iran’s Airport Company is responsible for managing, directing, and developing 53 airports across the country…

He added: In previous years, relying on domestic production capacity and knowledge-based companies, we provided most of our equipment needs from domestic production. He continued, “Recently, we have had projects such as advanced radar, switching and navigation aid systems and runway lighting system at Ardabil airport, and have reached self-sufficiency in these fields.”

Regarding the promotion of interactions with China and Russia, he said, “Our plan in the field of airports, considering the interactions with China and Russia, will be the construction of new airports in accordance with the needs of the country in some areas.”

The chief of Iran Airports Company said, “After technical and specialized discussions, projects will aim for the next 20 to 25 years since existing airports will meet the needs of the industry for the next 15 years, but in the long run we need a number of world class international airports.”

Image Information:

Image: Tabriz International Airport, in northwest Iran.
Source: Hamshahri