Houthis’ Red Sea Attacks Not Only Motivated by Gaza

Yemen map showing major population centers as well as parts of neighboring countries and the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

“The preparation of the naval force comes in light of the enemy mercenaries’ relinquishing of national sovereignty, and their exposing the country’s sovereign oil, gas and fishery resources to unprecedented plunder…”

While recent naval attacks by Yemen’s Ansarallah group—better known as the Houthis—have been justified as being in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, Ansarallah’s build-up of capabilities to engage in an anti-access naval campaign was motivated by domestic concerns that predate Israel’s operations against Hamas in Gaza. Beginning on 19 October, Ansarallah began targeting primarily commercial vessels in the Red Sea using unmanned aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles, and anti-ship cruise missiles. The majority of these weapons were shot down by ships from the USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group.[i] These attacks were concurrent with other attacks carried out by Iranian allies, all presented as in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and as part of a coordinated anti-Israel response by members of the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance”—Hezbollah in Lebanon, “Islamic Resistance” militias in Iraq, and Ansarallah in Yemen. According to the accompanying excerpt from the official Yemeni daily 26 September, Ansarallah leaders have justified their buildup of anti-ship capabilities as motivated by their adversaries “exposing the country’s sovereign oil, gas and fishery resources to unprecedented plunder” and their attempts to “expand and control the most important strategic ports and islands, such as Socotra and Mayun [also known as Perim Island].” From Ansarallah’s perspective, its domestic adversaries—both the Saudi-backed Internationally Recognized Government and the Emirati-backed Southern Transitional Council—have used the early 2022 UN-brokered truce in Yemen to tighten control over resources and strategic locations on Yemen’s coastline with foreign assistance and complicity.[ii] In August 2023, a few months before hostilities broke out in Gaza, Ansarallah officials threatened to sink two oil tankers seeking to transport Yemeni oil for export from ports in the Gulf Aden under the control of Ansarallah’s domestic opponents. Ansarallah’s position vis-à-vis Red Sea shipping prior to 7 October, per the article, was “to encourage international navigation through the [Bab El Mandab] Strait provided that it does not harm the sovereignty, unity, security or independence of the Republic.” Thus, while Ansarallah’s attacks on shipping vessels transiting Bab El Mandab are—at least rhetorically—linked to Israel’s invasion of Gaza, they should also be understood as a deliberate effort by the group to assert control over the entirety of Yemen’s territorial waters and internationalize the struggle for control of Yemen’s resources and strategic locations.


“قدرات اليمن في حماية البحار والمياه الوطنية  Yemeni capabilities for protecting national seas and waterways,” 26 September (official Yemeni daily), 25 September 2023. https://www.26sep.net/index.php/local/64705-2023-09-25-05-09-57

”We were in a raging war with two ships coming to the port of Aden to plunder Yemeni gas, and they retreated four times, most recently yesterday. We informed the companies that owned the ships ‘Sinmar Jane’ and ‘Bolivar’ that we would strike them if they entered to loot gas from the port of Aden, and they are ready to do so. A few days earlier, President Al-Mashat vowed to ‘target the military bases of the Saudi-Emirati coalition forces on the Yemeni islands.’ At that time, he concurred with the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces and Coastal Defense, Brigadier General Mansour Ahmed Al-Saadi, ‘on the level of qualitative armament that the naval forces now possess, which enables them to confront the enemy with all merit and ability, and allows them to meet the challenges…”

The Minister of Defense, Major General Muhammad Nasser Al-Atifi, had previously confirmed that maritime security of Yemeni territorial waters would be a priority in the next stage…

The preparation of the naval force comes in light of the enemy mercenaries’ relinquishing of national sovereignty, and their exposing the country’s sovereign oil, gas and fishery resources to unprecedented plunder. Alongside this organized plunder are the occupation’s efforts to expand and control the most important strategic ports and islands, such as Socotra and Mayun. It was necessary for the Yemeni armed forces to carry out their duty to protect the territorial waters and the sovereign wealth of oil, gas and fisheries from the dangers coming from the coalition of aggressors and their mercenaries from inside and outside the country, and to prepare themselves as a deterrent weapon for all these ambitions. Regarding freedom of international navigation in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the position of the Republic of Yemen is specific and clear, which is to encourage international navigation through the Strait provided that it does not harm the sovereignty, unity, security or independence of the Republic.


[i] For details on Ansarallah’s naval arsenal, see: “A Maritime Menace: The Houthi Navy,” Oryx Blog, 2 January 2023. https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2023/01/a-maritime-menace-houthi-navy.html; “Houthis Showcase Large Arsenal Of Missiles, Drones At Sana’a Military Parade,” MEMRI, 21 September 2023. https://www.memri.org/tv/houthis-showcase-large-arsenal-missiles-drones-military-parade; “Under Fire in the Bab al-Mandab: Houthi Military Capabilities and U.S. Response Options,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 8 December 2023. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/under-fire-bab-al-mandab-houthi-military-capabilities-and-us-response-options;“Houthi anti-ship missile systems: getting better all the time,” IISS, 4 January 2024. https://www.iiss.org/online-analysis/military-balance/2024/01/houthi-anti-ship-missile-systems-getting-better-all-the-time/ For details on Ansarallah’s anti-ship ballistic missiles, see: “We Might Have Just Seen the World’s First Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Attack,” Popular Mechanics, 1 December 2023. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a45964460/first-anti-ship-ballistic-missile-attack-houthi-rebels/

[ii] For more on control over Socotra, see: Lucas Winter, “Regional Friction Over Yemen’s Socotra Island,” OE Watch, June 2018. https://community.apan.org/cfs-file/__key/telligent-evolution-components-attachments/13-17883-00-00-00-27-93-72/2018_2D00_06_2D00_01-Regional-Friction-Over-Yemen_1920_s-Socotra-Island-_2800_Winter_2900_.pdf?forcedownload=true; For more on control over Yemen’s Arabian Sea ports, see: Lucas Winter, “Saudis Seek Pathway to the Arabian Sea,” OE Watch, October 2018. https://community.apan.org/cfs-file/__key/telligent-evolution-components-attachments/13-17883-00-00-00-26-69-08/2018_2D00_10_2D00_01-Saudis-Seek-Pathway-to-the-Arabian-Sea-_2800_Winter_2900_.pdf?forcedownload=true

Image Information:

Image:  Yemen map showing major population centers as well as parts of neighboring countries and the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
Source: CIA Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/yemen/map
Attribution: Public Domain

Russia Standardizing Munitions Used on First-Person View UAVs

Russian Soldier with FPV UAV

“Previously, we had to independently manufacture, adapt, and “collectively develop” munitions. All this is unsafe. Now having a standard munition will make everyone’s job easier and safer…It’s no secret that some crews were blown up by their own munitions”

The accompanying excerpted article from the Russian military enthusiast website, Armeyskiy Standart, describes the role and importance of small first-person view (FPV) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are being used extensively in Ukraine. Many of these commercially produced UAVs have been repurposed from reconnaissance duties and modified to carry various munitions that can be effectively dropped on enemy personnel and/or equipment.[i] The second accompanying excerpted article from the Russian newspaper, Izvestia, discusses Russian efforts to further the FPV concept by developing standardized munitions for FPV UAVs. As the article explains, improvised explosives for use with small FPV UAVs are unstable and have resulted in crews being “blown up” by their own munitions. The impacts of the adoption of standardized munitions for FPV UAVs will likely extend long after Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine concludes. The en masse use of FPV UAVs is likely seen by the Russian military, and many others,[ii] as necessary for tactical success on the modern battlefield, especially in the conduct of close-range reconnaissance and fires. The adoption of standardized munitions will facilitate interoperability in the burgeoning Russian UAV industry and significantly lower already relatively low manufacturing costs. Standardization is a necessary step if Russia intends to place FPV UAVs into its table of organization and equipment structure, given their effectiveness and cost for delivering close-range reconnaissance and fires.


Rustem Klupov, “FPV— дроны завоевывают поле боя: В ходе СВО впервые широко применены новые средства поражения (FPV— UAVs are conquering the battlefield: The new weapons were widely used in the SMO for the first time),” Armeyskiy Standart (Russian military enthusiast website), 7 December 2023. https://armystandard.ru/news/20231261712-o0qQy.html

In reports of special military operations [SMO], there are more and more reports of the use of so-called FPV (First-Person View) UAVs on the line of combat contact in the tactical depth at close-range. FPVs are quadcopters, or multi-rotor UAVs, equipped with a camera that transmits video to the operator-pilot’s control device. The pilot controls the UAV using this video feed, giving him the feeling of actually being in the UAV’s cockpit…

We can say that FPV UAVs are the “know-how” of SVO. They have wide ranging capabilities to destroy a variety of enemy targets. Having a small mass, they can lift a load several times their own weight and carry it at a speed of 120–140 km/h over a distance of 15–16 km… At the same time, the cost of one UAV is on average from 30 thousand to 60 thousand rubles [$330-660].

The versatility of FPV UAVs also lies in the fact that they can carry out additional reconnaissance of an object, deliver high-precision strikes and can carry munitions for various purposes — high-explosive, shaped-charge, fragmentation, thermobaric, incendiary, and kinetic…

The ability to use FPV UAVs in the tactical depth at close-range, which is most saturated with troops, allows these UAVs to always find their target, and having the capability to employ specialized munitions to ensure the reliable destruction of a variety of objects.The comparative effectiveness of FPV UAVs with other traditional means of destruction distinguishes this type as cheaper and more pragmatic in terms of accuracy and range of use.

Roman Kretsul, Alexey Ramm, and Dmitry Astrakhan, “С легким — на подъем: для FPV-дронов начали выпускать штатные боеприпасы (Easy goings — standardized munitions have begun to be produced for FPV UAVs),” Izvestiya (major Russian daily newspaper), 1 December 2023. https://iz.ru/1613625/roman-kretcul-aleksei-ramm-dmitrii-astrakhan/s-legkim-na-podem-dlia-fpv-dronov-nachali-vypuskat-shtatnye-boepripasy

…Several enterprises of the Russian defense industry have established serial production of ammunition for FPV UAVs, regular deliveries to the troops began this fall, two sources in the military department told Izvestia and confirmed by an interlocutor in the military-industrial complex.

The new ammunition is equipped with universal mounts that allow it to be suspended under almost all types of FPV UAVs used in the special military operation zone. Now the troops are receiving fragmentation, high-explosive fragmentation and cumulative warheads. In the future, their line is planned to be expanded.

Externally, a munition for an FPV UAV looks like a tube. New munitions are delivered to the troops in special protective plastic cases. As the publication’s interlocutors noted, the main advantage of the new products is their compactness combined with high power. This is achieved through the use of special explosives. Therefore, serial produced munitions are much superior improvised munitions…

“Previously, we had to independently manufacture, adapt, and “collectively develop” munitions. All this is unsafe. Now having a standard munition will make everyone’s job easier and safer…It’s no secret that some crews were blown up by their own munitions…” said Dmitry Uskov, a volunteer and contributor to the “13 Tactical” Telegram channel, told Izvestia…[i] FPV UAVs are one of the most dynamically developing areas of unmanned aviation. The operator controls such a device while wearing virtual reality glasses, like a pilot. With the proper skill, this allows you to deliver a UAV with a warhead precisely to the target, for example, to the door of a dugout or a vulnerable projection of an armored vehicle. For most other weapon systems, such precision is unimaginable…

[i] 13 Tactical is a pro-Russia site on the Telegram platform, as found at: https://t.me/s/tactical_13/2665


[i] For other Russian uses of drones on the battlefield, see: Charles Bartles, “Russia Plans To Add Remote Mining UAV Platoons To Engineer Units,” OE Watch, 09-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/russia-plans-to-add-remote-mining-uav-platoons-to-engineer-units/

[ii] For a recent examination of Taiwan’s position regarding drones on the battlefield, see: John Lubianetsky, “Taiwan Addressing Drone Technology Gap With China,” OE Watch, 10-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2024/taiwan-addressing-drone-technology-gap-with-china/

Image Information:

Image: Russian Soldier with FPV UAV
Attribution: Russian Ministry of Defense, CC BY-SA 4.0

Syrian Regime Forces Increase UAV Use Along Jordanian Border

An Ababil-3 UAV at an Iranian arms expo on Kish Island in November 2016.

“Iran has transferred many dual-use drones, with surveillance and bombing capabilities, to Daraa Governorate.”

Reported unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use by Syrian regime forces and their allies along the border with Jordan has noticeably increased. Jordanian authorities claimed that they had intercepted at least five small drones smuggling weapons and/or illicit substances from Syria between June and mid-August 2023.[i] Two reports from Syrian opposition sources provide context to the recent uptick in UAV use by Syrian regime forces and their allies. The first accompanying excerpt, published by the Horan Free Gathering, an opposition group in southern Syria, stated that UAVs have been used to smuggle drugs since at least 2018, when the conflict was frozen in southern Syria. Recent clampdowns along the land border have prompted smugglers to rely more heavily on UAVs. The article claims that Iran has transferred several combat UAVs to Syrian forces in Daraa, making them “the regime’s new weapon in the province.” The second accompanying report, from the Syrian opposition media channel Syria TV, provides details on two recent Syrian regime UAV strikes against rebel leaders in Daraa Province. Per the report, both attacks were conducted at night using Iranian Ababil drones, and neither attack appears to have succeeded against its primary target, only causing damage to buildings. The reports note that the Ababil UAVs fly quietly at low altitudes and rely on human-planted targeting devices. While Iranian-backed regime forces have employed UAVs throughout the conflict, the uptick in their use in southern Syria is notable and likely to cause concern in neighboring Jordan and Israel.


“بين تهريب المخدرات والعمليات الأمنية.. الطائرات المسيرة وسيلة النظام الجديدة

(From Drug Smuggling to Security Operations… UAVs are the Regime’s New Method),” 19 July 2023, Horan Free Gathering (southern Syria opposition group), https://www.horanfree.com/archives/13821

The regime’s use of small drones to smuggle drugs is not new. Since the settlement process in southern Syria at the end of July 2018, it began to use to smuggle drugs to Jordan, mainly high-value cocaine and “crystal,” in addition to smuggling some light weapons and ammunition…

A source for the Free Horan Gathering confirmed that Iran has transferred many dual-use drones, with surveillance and bombing capabilities, to Daraa Governorate, and has trained officers and members of the Syrian regime forces on using them, making it the regime’s new weapon in the province.

“الطائرات المسيّرة في درعا.. تكتيك عسكري جديد يوسع نفوذ إيران في سوريا

(UAVs in Daraa… New Military Tactic Expands Iranian Influence in Daraa),” Syria TV (Syrian opposition media network), 4 August 2023. https://tinyurl.com/sxssrr6v

From the beginning of last July until the second of August, 6 sorties were recorded by Ababil drones, west of Daraa, all of them flying after dark, according to what an informed source told Syria TV. On August 1, a drone targeted the house of the young man, Amjad Al-Mizal, in the town of Al-Yadoudah, west of Daraa, without recording any casualties. Abu Malik al-Zoubi, 35 years old, from the city of Tafas, west of Daraa, who witnessed the bombing of a house in the city on the 24th of last July, told Syria TV that an Ababil-2 drone targeted the house of journalist Muhannad al-Zoubi after midnight with a shell containing high explosives, causing substantial damage to the house…He added that these planes do not make a sound while flying in the area, and sometimes they do not emit light, and they fly at low altitudes to accurately hit their target…
A leading source in the opposition factions told Syria TV that officers from the Fourth Division recently supervised training operations for regime members on the use of drones at the headquarters of the Fifth Division in the city of Izraa in rural Daraa. The training included dozens of members of the regime’s army and its security services and aimed to improve their drone-handling capabilities, according to the commander. He added that the training focused on Iranian-made Ababil 2 and Ababil 3 drones, including those made locally, in addition to Quadcopters used by local militias to smuggle expensive crystal meth and cocaine to the Kingdom of Jordan and Arab countries.


[i] Jordanian authorities also reported other UAV interceptions earlier in 2023. In May, a Jordanian airstrike killed a prominent drug dealer in Syrian territory. For more on “Captagon,” the key illicit substance smuggled from Syria, see: Lucas Winter, “Pharmaceutical Drugs and the Syrian War,” OE Watch,December 2015. 

Image Information:

Image:  An Ababil-3 UAV at an Iranian arms expo on Kish Island in November 2016.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ababil_3_UAV.jpg  
Attribution: CC 4.0

Turkey Parlaying UAV Sales Into Prominent Position in Emerging Multipolar Gulf Security Architecture

Turkish Bayraktar Akıncı UAV on display at Teknofest Aerospace and Technology Festival in 2019.

…Thanks to these agreements, hundreds of companies producing subsystems in the Turkish defense and aviation industry will expand their export portfolios…”

There is a growing perception that Arab Gulf monarchies are intent on diversifying their defense and security partnerships beyond the United States’ security umbrella. A recent analysis in the prominent Saudi-owned monthly magazine al-Majalla argues that this new “multi-polar Gulf security” architecture is caused in part by the perceived decline in U.S. security commitments. Turkey, the article argues, is among the key countries ready to play a greater role in Gulf security.[i]

A key element of Turkish global military influence has been the success of its UAV exports, especially the Bayraktar TB-2 drones, manufactured by the Turkish company Baykar.[ii] In September 2022, the UAE placed an order for 120 TB-2 drones—at that time, the largest order ever.[iii] With reports of limited TB-2 inventory due to production constraints and high export demands, the deal was expected to have a localization component whereby some of the elements of manufacturing and production would occur on Emirati soil. Baykar delivered 20 units to the UAE shortly after the deal was announced. Since then, there has been no official follow-up or public reporting on the matter. However, the 2022 Emirati deal has officially been eclipsed in value by a Saudi-Turkish deal for Akinci UAVs—the most advanced drone made by Baykar—signed during Turkish President Erdogan’s mid-July 2023 visit to Saudi Arabia. Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar explains that the deal not only helps align Turkey and Saudi defense sector priorities but is expected to have a positive windfall across Turkey’s defense industry, according to the second accompanying excerpt, from an interview published in the global defense-focusednewswebsite Breaking Defense.  The deal has an explicit localization component stipulating that up to 70 percent of each unit could be produced in Saudi Arabia.[iv] Involving Saudi military industry in the production process will not only ease the pressures on production in Turkey, but will also meet key Saudi “Vision 2030” goals for its domestic defense industry.[v] It will also provide a major boost to Saudi capabilities, after its arsenal of Chinese import UAVs have underperformed in the Yemen conflict.[vi] Turkey, meanwhile, is receiving a much-needed influx of Gulf money in the hopes of stabilizing rampant inflation and persistent economic volatility.


تركيا… الوافد الأمني الجديد إلى الخليج (Turkey… the new entrant to Gulf security),” al-Majalla (Saudi-owned news magazine), 24 July 2023. https://tinyurl.com/ktky387m

The repercussions of regional fluctuations and the obligations to compensate for the decline in the level of United States security commitments have prompted the Arab Gulf states to change their strategies on three levels: diversification in sources of arms supplies, diversification in partnerships, and diversification in alliances. Although the United States remains by far the most important security player in the Gulf, diversification strategies have opened the door for regional, external, traditional, and newcomer actors such as China, India, Russia, and Turkey to become involved in the Gulf region. This situation has led to what can be called “multi-polar Gulf security,” which raises many questions about the prospects for Gulf security and the potential role of newcomers in the region…

It is difficult to predict the future in a highly volatile and unstable region, especially with the countless variables involved in each situation. However, with the current trend of the United States continuing to detach from the region and in light of Turkey’s rising regional position and rapid leaps in the defense industry, Ankara may have an opportunity to strengthen its position in the Gulf and advance towards an enhanced security role. However, internal, regional, and international dynamics must always be taken into account, and Turkey should stabilize its domestic politics, enhance its economic strength, and significantly increase its trade interaction with the Gulf states to compete with actors from outside the region and facilitate a potentially enhanced security role in the future.

Baykar CEO hopes massive Saudi deal paves path for Turkish defense firms in KSA,” Breaking Defense (global defense-focusednewswebsite), 10 August 2023. https://breakingdefense.com/2023/08/baykar-ceo-hopes-massive-saudi-deal-paves-path-for-turkish-defense-firms-in-ksa/

“Our partners ASELSAN and ROKETSAN, with whom we collaborate, have also entered agreements with NCMS based on their technological capabilities. Thanks to these agreements, hundreds of companies producing subsystems in the Turkish defense and aviation industry will expand their export portfolios through new collaborations in this field,” Bayraktar said…“…Joining forces with the Saudi defense industry will accelerate Baykar’s rate and capacity of production, which is crucial to meet the burgeoning demand for the Turkish unmanned aerial solutions,” Kasapoglu said…


[i] For background see: Ali Bakir, “Turkey’s defense industry is on the rise. The GCC is one of its top buyers,” The Atlantic Council, 4 August 2023. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/turkey-defense-baykar-gcc-gulf/

[ii] For more on Baykar and Turkish drone exports, see: Karen Kaya, “Turkey as a Drone Superpower: A Case Study of a Mid-Size Power Driving the Operational Environment,” FMSO’s Foreign Perspective Brief, 28 March 2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/2023-03-28-turkey-as-a-drone-superpower-a-case-study-of-a-mid-size-power-driving-the-operational-environment-karen-kaya-update/

[iii] Over the past decade, Turkey’s military influence among Gulf countries was centered on its close defense and security relationship with Qatar. Turkish relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE were strained for much of the 2010s. They thawed in 2021 when the Qatar embargo ended and a broader regional rapprochement began.

[iv] Jeremy Binnie. “Local production agreements signed for Saudi Bayraktar Akinci UAVs,” Jane’s, 8 August 2023. https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/local-production-agreements-signed-for-saudi-bayraktar-akinci-uavs

[v] For more on the defense industry component of Saudi Vision 2030, see: Lucas Winter “Saudi Arabia and China in the Arabian Sea,” OE Watch,October 2016. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/195241; Lucas Winter, “Saudi Arabia and the UAE Streamline Military Industry,” OE Watch,January 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/307562; and Lucas Winter, “Saudi Arabia’s Domestic UAV Program Slow To Get Off the Ground,” OE Watch,01-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-past-issues/403476

[vi] See: Lucas Winter, “UAV Technologies Proliferating in Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” OE Watch,07-2022. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/oe-watch-vol-12-iss-07/

Image Information:

Image:  Turkish Bayraktar Akıncı UAV on display at Teknofest Aerospace and Technology Festival in 2019.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bayraktar_Akıncı_SİHA_%28UAV%29.jpg
Attribution: CC 4.0

Kyrgyzstan Acquires Turkish UAS, Showing Less Reliance on Russia

A Turkish TAI Aksungur twin-engine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on demonstration at Teknofest 2019.

For 2.5 years, Kyrgyzstan has allocated 125 billion soms ($1.422 billion) to upgrade equipment.”

Kyrgyzstan has relied on Russian security assistance to help upgrade weapon systems and equipment for its armed forces. When the government announced in late 2021 that it had purchased two Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for the country’s border guards, it marked a partial shift away from Russian systems that has continued with newer acquisitions.[i] The excerpted article from the independent news website Fergana Agency reports that Kyrgyzstan spent $1.4 billion over the past two-and-a-half years on its armed forces. The article notes that Kyrgyzstan acquired Bayraktar, Aksungur, and Akinci UAS from Turkey, as well as Pechora surface-to-air missile systems and Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters from Russia. It is unclear if the TB-2s are additional systems, but the Aksungur and Akinci and Russian systems are new acquisitions.[ii] The article also discusses the numerous conflicts that have taken place on the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border in recent years, suggesting one possible motivation for Kyrgyzstan’s desire to upgrade its systems. According to the article, last September both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan brought up additional forces during one clash that killed dozens, demonstrating how clashes in recent years have increased in scale. Overall, Kyrgyzstan’s military acquisitions are not a shift in the balance of power in the region, but it provides it an edge that Tajikistan does not have.


“За 2,5 года Кыргызстан потратил на обновление вооруженной техники почти $1,5 млрд (For 2.5 years Kyrgyzstan has spent almost $1.5 billion on upgrading military equipment),” Fergana Agency (independent Russian-language news website focusing on Central Asia), 21 July 2023. https://fergana.agency/news/130812/

For 2.5 years, Kyrgyzstan has allocated 125 billion soms ($1.422 billion) to upgrade equipment. This was announced by the head of the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) Kamchybek Tashiev at a government meeting…

Tashiyev noted that in 2005-2020, Kyrgyzstan spent 3-5 billion soms ($34-56.9 million) for the same purposes. For comparison, he listed that in 2021 alone, the country’s authorities allocated 32 billion soms ($364 million) to upgrade weapons, in 2022 – 53 billion soms ($603 million), for six months of 2023 – more than 40 billion soms ($455 million).

…According to Tashiev, Bayraktar, Aksungur, Akinci drones, the Pechora anti-aircraft missile system, Mi-8, Mi-17 helicopters were purchased.

“We didn’t receive all this as a gift, all this was purchased with state budget funds,” Tashiev stressed. …in recent years there have been numerous border conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The biggest one happened in September last year. Artillery and heavy armored vehicles were involved in the battles on both sides.


[i] For background on Kyrgyzstan’s acquisition of Bayraktars in 2021, see: Matthew Stein “Kyrgyzstan Conducts Exercise with Its New Bayraktars,” OE Watch, 05-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues

[ii] One of the deliveries of new Russian helicopters took place a few weeks before the announcement by Tashiev, see: Kseniya Timofeeva, “Кыргызстан получил новый вертолет Ми-17. От России, но за свои средства (Kyrgyzstan received a new Mi-17 helicopter. From Russia, but bought on its own),” Kaktus, 23 June 2023. https://kaktus.media/doc/482847_kyrgyzstan_polychil_novyy_vertolet_mi_17._ot_rossii_no_za_svoi_sredstva.html

Image Information:

Image: A Turkish TAI Aksungur twin-engine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle on demonstration at Teknofest 2019.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TAI_Aksungur_Teknofest2019_(1).jpg
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0

2021-04-02 Russian Robotics: A Look At Definitions, Principles, Uses, And Other Trends (Timothy Thomas)

2021-04-02 Russian Robotics: A Look At Definitions, Principles, Uses, And Other Trends (Timothy Thomas)

(Click image to download brief.)

The following summary first offers several ways that Russian theorists have defined a robot, starting in 1991. Second, the analysis compares Russian and U.S. approaches to employing robotics (from a Russian perspective) as well as tasks and principles of their use. Third, some of the uses of robotics in Russia are detailed, focusing on descriptions in military periodicals—in urban environments, in conjunction with engineer support, in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use, with artillery, and their use in Syria. Fourth, legal and organizational issues of contention are examined that affect robotic use worldwide and regarding Russia. Fifth, the numerous problem areas are covered that Russia has encountered in its development of robotic capabilities, followed by a few conclusions. There are two appendixes. Appendix One lists some robotic employment principles and Appendix Two offers some photos of robots under development in Russia along with their operating parameters (and several not shown in the photographs).