What's New

Dear Subscriber,

Ukraine Extends Range Of Domestic MLRS

Ukraine has developed an extended-range variant of its Vilkha multiple-rocket launch system, which was originally based on the Soviet-era Smerch system. The fully indigenous Vilkha-M is designed to attack concentrations of troops and armor, soft targets, naval bases and coastal infrastructure. The 300-mm rocket can be armed with a variety of warheads weighing up to 375 pounds. It employs GPS and inertial guidance, enabling an accuracy of up to 100 feet (30 m) circular error probable. The system has an automatic fire-control system.

Development of the Vilkha-M began in 2016, with initial trials following in 2017. In October 2018, the Ukrainian government announced that the system had been adopted by the army, with serial production expected to begin soon. Reports in May 2020, however, indicated that the Vilkha-M was in the final phase of testing, with full-rate production anticipated in 2021. The Ukrainian government plans to buy 3,000 Vilkha-M missiles at a cost of US$72 million.

New Vehicle To Guard S. Korean Skies

South Korea is developing a new mobile anti-aircraft gun system. The Anti-Aircraft Gun Wheeled Vehicle System (AAGW) consists of a K808 8 x 8 armored chassis with a twin 30-mm cannon turret with 300 rounds of ready-to-use ammunition. An electro-optical targeting system with a TV and infrared camera and laser rangefinder is fitted to support day and night operations. A separate visual targeting system with an infrared and TV camera is also provided. The vehicle can be linked with air defense command-and-control systems at higher echelons.

Seoul launched development of the AAGW in 2015 with a contract award to Hanwha Defense. Development was reportedly completed in mid-2019. A US$200 million production contract was awarded in June 2020, with series production expected to begin in 2021. The AAGW is intended to replace aging Vulcan air defense systems in service with the South Korean army, navy and marines. The vehicle is designed to defend mobile units from low-altitude aerial threats.


New LSTs Transport Tanks, APCs For Ankara

Turkey has built a pair of tank landing ships to a domestic design to replace aging ex-U.S. Navy vessels. The Bayraktar-class LSTs, constructed by the Anadolu Shipyard in Istanbul, can perform amphibious, logistics support and flagship missions. The ships can carry up to 1,200 tons of cargo, including tanks and armored vehicles, as well as 370 troops. Armament includes two 40-mm cannons, two STAMP remotely operated weapon stations with 12.7-mm machine guns and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems.

The Bayraktar-class ships were ordered in 2011. The US$524 million contract included options for a third and fourth LST. First steel was cut for the lead ship in 2014 and she was commissioned in April 2017. The second ship was launched in 2015 and entered service in April 2018. The vessels are equipped with a domestic combat system from Havelsan and a Thales SMART-S air/surface search radar. The class has a range of up to 5,000 nm and can operate in conditions up to Sea State 5, with limited capability in Sea State 6.

Taiwanese Loitering Munition Aimed At Chinese Air Defenses
Other new records this month include the Taiwanese Jian Hsiang uncrewed aircraft, U.S. BQM-177 subsonic aerial target, South Korean Cheonwangbong-class LST, and the Chinese SLC-2 and South Korean TPQ-74K radars.

Naval updates include the Russian Kilo-class diesel submarines, Norwegian Alusafe 1290-class patrol boats, Romanian Regele Ferdinand-class frigates, the AN/SQQ-14IT and AN/SQQ-30 sonars, and the Nulka ship-launched decoy system.

Wasp Gives French Light Vehicles A Sting
A number of gun records have been made current. These are the French Wasp remotely operated weapon station and U.S. M44, French Mk F3 and Italian Palmaria self-propelled howitzers.

Additional updates this month include the U.S. AGM-176 Griffin precision-guided missile, Turkish Omtas anti-tank missile, French Pilar acoustic detection system, Russian Protivnik-GE air defense radar, Iranian Mohajer family of drones and the Ukrainian An-12 cargo aircraft.

Swiss Take New Tact In Fighter Acquisition
Switzerland is trying a new strategy to replace aging fighter and air defense systems after a national referendum blocked the purchase of new jets in 2014. The orders of battle for Guatemala and Rwanda have also been updated.

There is a new record for Burma's Arakan Army militant group and an update for the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (FLEC) in Angola.

Australia, India Move Closer As China Takes Aggressive Stance
Australia and India are strengthening their ties in response to China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean and belligerence in the South China Sea. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd looks at the history of the relationship and the latest developments in "The Kangaroo and the Tiger."

Beijing and Moscow are eyeing the military modernization market in Iran, which is expected to open for business with the expiration of a U.N. arms embargo in October. Reuben Johnson has the story in "Iranian Arms Bazaar."

Burma has struggled with insurgency since obtaining its independence in 1948. One of the newer groups to join the fray is the Arakan Army, which is fighting for minority rights in the western Rakhine state. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey has the latest in "Bloody Struggle for Rights in Rakhine."

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, killing more than 600,000 people. Andy Oppenheimer takes a look at what we know about the virus in "The Virus Behind the Pandemic."