Turkish and Israeli Drones Enable Azerbaijan's Decisive Victory Over Armenia

 Defense analysts believe that Turkish and Israeli drones have helped Azerbaijan achieve decisive victory against Armenia. "Azerbaijan’s drones owned the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh — and showed future of warfare" says the Washington Post headline as tweeted by drone warfare expert Franz-Stefan Gady. Low-cost Azeri drones killed thousands of Armenian soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh and destroyed hundreds of Armenian tanks and artillery pieces, giving a huge advantage to Azerbaijan and forcing the Armenian surrender.  Armenian Prime Minister accused Pakistan of sending troops to help Azerbaijan in the conflict. Pakistan rejected Armenian allegations and congratulated Azerbaijan on its victory. 

Turkish Drones

Azeris deployed a variety of drones in their war against Armenia to wrest control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that is legally part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenians. Azeris used Turkish Bayraktar drones which are large and reusable drones. They also Kamikaze drones made by Israel which are small and designed for one-time use in destroying targets.  The small Israeli-made suicide drones are sometimes also referred to as "loitering munitions". Azeris used big old WW2 Antonov AN-2 biplanes as decoys to fool Armenian air defense systems. 

Michael Kofman, military analyst and director of Russia studies at CNA, a defense think tank in Arlington, Va. is quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “Drones offer small countries very cheap access to tactical aviation and precision guided weapons, enabling them to destroy an opponent’s much-costlier equipment such as tanks and air defense systems.”  “An air force is a very expensive thing,” he added. “And they permit the utility of air power to smaller, much poorer nations.”

In 2019, dozens of cheap drones were deployed against Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields to cut Saudi Aramco's production by half, according to multiple media reports. Saudi and US officials have blamed Iran for the destructive hit. This was the first time that cheap drone swarms loaded with explosives dodged sophisticated air defense systems to hit critical infrastructure targets in the history of warfare.  

Small drones are hard to detect even by the most sophisticated radars. It's even harder to shoot down a drone swarm because of their small size and large numbers. After Abqaiq and Khurais attacks last year, Saudi sources revealed that 25 drones and missiles were used to hit the two sites that produced 5.7 million barrels of oil per day. The incoming low-flying small drones and missiles successfully evaded US-supplied sophisticated air defense system. Multi-billion dollar cutting edge American military hardware mainly designed to deter high altitude attacks has proved no match for low-cost drones and cruise missiles used in a strike that crippled its giant oil industry. 

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Comments

Imran Q. said…
soldiers and tanks are sitting ducks in front of these drones. You need specialists who can master the drone warfare, hence more officers than soldiers.
Riaz Haq said…
Imran: "soldiers and tanks are sitting ducks in front of these drones. You need specialists who can master the drone warfare, hence more officers than soldiers"

Drone warfare does not diminish the importance of tank warfare. It just reinforces the need for better air cover for the armored corps to do their job of taking and keeping territory.
Bea said…
Armenia air defense is a joke. If those primitive drone are engaging a major power. It will be downed in no time.
Riaz Haq said…
Bea: "Armenia air defense is a joke. If those primitive drone are engaging a major power. It will be downed in no time."

These drones are small and hard to detect even by sophisticated radars. It's even harder to shoot down a drone swarm because of their small size and large numbers.

Besides, Azerbaijanis used big old WW2 Antonov biplanes as decoys to fool Armenian air defense system.
Riaz Haq said…
Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operational Limits of Air Defense Systems

https://www.rand.org/blog/2020/07/drone-era-warfare-shows-the-operational-limits-of-air.html


While most countries struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil wars in Syria and Libya have become battlegrounds for foreign states backing different local sides. External powers have intervened in both civil wars supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts, but not all the weapons have performed as claimed. Perhaps the most startling example of this is how ineffective modern Russian air defense systems have been at countering drones and low-flying missiles. In the face-off between expensive air defensive systems and lower cost offensive drones and low-flying missiles, the offense is winning.

In recent weeks, drones supplied by Turkey (PDF) in support of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord have reportedly destroyed the Russian Pantsir short-range air defense systems (SHORADS) that the opposition Libyan National Army (LNA) used to protect their forces. The inability of the LNA to protect their forces has turned the tide of the conflict and is a reminder of how difficult effective air defense is in an era of comparatively inexpensive armed drones and precision guided low-flying cruise missiles.

The LNA is not alone in having difficulty employing air defense systems effectively. The Syrian regime is protected by several Russian-origin air defense systems, including the S-300, S-400 High Altitude Air Defense Systems (HIMADS), Buk-M1 medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and Pantsir SHORADS. The Israeli Air Force has regularly defeated these systems through the combined use of electronic warfare, anti-radiation missiles, and stand-off precision guided munitions. Many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures used to defeat SHORADS in Libya were tested during the Turkish military's brief 2020 winter campaign in Idlib Province during which Turkey destroyed Pantsir SHORAD and Buk-M1 medium-range SAM systems operated by the Assad Regime. Some of the destroyed Syrian and Libyan Pantsir systems appeared to be operational in the field, while others were being moved on flatbed trailers or hiding under sheds at the time they were knocked out. This shows how good intelligence aiding offensive attackers can easily neutralize defensive systems.

Not all of these systems were defeated due to inherent technical shortcomings. The tactical and strategic situation in which these air defense systems are employed also affects their performance. For example, as part of a United States government foreign assistance-funded project, RAND has examined open source reporting that highlights how Syrian personnel operating newly-acquired advanced Russian air defense systems lack the training time that is needed to effectively operate these complex systems. The repeated success of forces using drones and low-flying missiles to destroy or suppress multiple air defense systems on the battlefield is a cautionary note about the effectiveness of these systems against modern air threats. In both Libya and Syria, lower cost offensive drones and low-flying missiles have bedeviled more expensive, complex, and difficult to operate air defense systems.

Even well-equipped countries like Saudi Arabia know from the drone and missile strikes on its oil facilities during the late summer of 2019 by Houthi rebels or Iranian operatives that effective air defense against armed drones or low-flying missiles is very difficult. Similarly, as Iran knows from its own tragic misfires of its Russian-supplied Tor air defense system that shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner, operating sophisticated precision guided missile systems requires extensive training, and even then tragic errors can occur.

Riaz Haq said…
China Conducts Test Of Massive Suicide Drone Swarm Launched From A Box On A Truck
China shows off its ability to rapidly launch 48 weaponized drones from the back of a truck, as well as from helicopters.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/37062/china-conducts-test-of-massive-suicide-drone-swarm-launched-from-a-box-on-a-truck

Loitering munitions have also demonstrated the ability to have a devastating impact on an opponent, even when just used en masse rather than as part of a truly networked swarm. This reality has been especially visible, as seen in the video below, during the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. You can read about more about this in The War Zone's recent coverage of that conflict. The danger that small drones, even home-brew types non-state actors are capable of building, pose to nation-state militaries is only becoming more and more apparent.

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China recently conducted a test involving a swarm of loitering munitions, also often referred to as suicide drones, deployed from a box-like array of tubular launchers on a light tactical vehicle and from helicopters. This underscores how the drone swarm threat, broadly, is becoming ever-more real and will present increasingly serious challenges for military forces around the world in future conflicts.

The China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology (CAEIT) reportedly carried out the test in September. CAEIT is a subsidiary of the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), which carried out a record-breaking drone swarm experiment in June 2017, involving nearly 120 small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft. Four months later, CAEIT conducted its own larger experiment with 200 fixed-wing drones. Chinese companies have also demonstrated impressive swarms using quad-copter-type drones for large public displays.

We don't know the name or designation of the drones CAEIT used in its September test, or that of the complete system being employed. However, video footage, seen below, shows that the unmanned aircraft are very similar in form and function to more recent models of China Poly Defense's CH-901 loitering munition.

When the tube-launched CH-901 first emerged in 2016, it featured a pair of pop-out wings, as well as a folding v-tail. More recently, that design has evolved and replaced the v-tail with another set of pop-out wings and folding twin-tail arrangement, similar to the drones we see in the CAEIT test video.

Of course, designs featuring two pairs of folding wings are very common for tube-launched drones and loitering munitions, including the Switchblade suicide drone from U.S. manufacturer AeroVironment. The unmanned aircraft CAEIT employed in its experiment is also reminiscent of American defense contractor Raytheon's Coyote.

The Coyote comparison also extends to launch options CAEIT demonstrated in its recent test. The 48-tube ground-based launcher, which is mounted on a modified 6x6 version of the Dongfeng Mengshi light tactical vehicle, is similar in some respects to multi-tube trail-mounted launchers that the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research used to launch Coyotes as part of its Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) effort, as seen in the video below. Poly Defense has also shown at least a mock-up of an array of tubular launchers for the CH-901.
Riaz Haq said…
Why Chinese Kamikaze Drones Pose An ‘Existential Threat’ To Indian T-72 Tanks Deployed In Ladakh?

https://eurasiantimes.com/desperate-for-armed-drones-why-did-india-outrightly-reject-american-mq-9-reaper-drones/

The recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan might have shown how effective these drones could be against enemy armor, meanwhile, it also shows the high number of drone losses for both sides. The high costs and the susceptibility of these systems (US MQ9 Reaper SkyGuardian Drones) would also have raised eyebrows for the Indian services.

The deal’s Acceptance of Necessity (AON) is still yet to be approved by the Defense Acquisition Council, which is one of the most important steps in a foreign arms procurement in the Indian government.

The US diplomats wanted the SkyGuardian deal to be the highlight of their visit to India, however, they had to be satisfied only with the highlights of the inking of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), an important milestone between the two nations.

This also allows the Indian operators to use the American navigational and mapping systems, paving a way for future procurement of the MQ-9Bs. The deal could still be signed in the future, but the plan appears to be shelved by New Delhi, at least for now.

Instead, the services might go forward with the “Project Cheetah”, which is to upgrade the existing drones to carry out offensive operations against the enemy. Under this project, 90 Heron drones of the three services would be upgraded to be armed with laser-guided bombs, air to ground, and air-launched anti-tank guided missiles.

The costs saved from signing the SkyGuardian deal could be used more efficiently by investing in long-sought indigenous procurement of LCA Tejas Mk-1As and Light Combat Helicopters, and supporting the internal industries under the helm of “Aatmnirbhar Bharat”.
Riaz Haq said…
China, Pakistan to Co-Produce 48 Strike-Capable Wing Loong II Drones by Franz-Stefan Gady


https://thediplomat.com/2018/10/china-pakistan-to-co-produce-48-strike-capable-wing-loong-ii-drones/

China and Pakistan have reportedly reached an agreement for the co-production of 48 Chinese-made unmanned aerial vehicles.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) have agreed to co-produce 48 Chinese-designed next-generation medium-altitude long-endurance and strike-capable Wing Loong II unnamed aerial vehicles (UAV), the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) revealed in a social media post on October 6.

Neither AVIC nor PAC have so far publicly confirmed the inking of a sales contract. It is also unclear when the purported deal was signed or how much it is worth. Additionally, there is no information when the 48 UAVs are slated for delivery. Pakistan has been mulling the purchase of additional Chinese-made UAVs for a number of years. (The PAF is currently operating four China-made Caihong 4 (CH-4), or Rainbow 4, UAVs.)

The Wing Loong II UAV successfully completed its first maiden flight on February 27, 2017. As I reported in March 2017:

China’s latest strike-capable drone has been designed and developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, a subsidiary of AVIC. With an overall length of 11 meters, a wingspan of 20.5 meters, and a height of 4.1 meters, the Wing Loong II UAV was first publicly revealed at the Airshow China 2016 in November 2016. At the airshow, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s (CASC) for the first time publicly displayed a prototype of its latest and most capable attack and reconnaissance UAV, the Caihong 5 (CH-5), or Rainbow 5.

The Wing Loong II is an upgraded variant of the Wing Loong UAV first introduced into service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in 2008. An export version of the drone has been sold to a number of international customers including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. (…) In terms of size and payload, the original Wing Loong combat drone is comparable to the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, which is slated to be retired by the U.S. Air Force by the end of the year.


--------------------------

Indian LT GEN H S PANAG (RETD) on drones:

As early as 2013, Pakistan had displayed two domestically produced drones based on China’s CH-3 model that were already in service in its armed forces. In 2015, Pakistan used its domestic model, the Burraq, based on CH-3 in a publicly-owned strike on militants in the North Waziristan region. In 2018, China finalised its biggest drone sale when Pakistan agreed to buy 48 GJ-2 drones, under its export name Wing Loong II. Pakistan is also likely to possess loiter munitions in unknown numbers.

https://theprint.in/opinion/high-tech-drones-could-have-neutralised-chinese-intrusions-at-lac-but-india-didnt-have-them/532979/

Riaz Haq said…
China-#Turkey-#Pakistan Alliance Dangerous For India Diplomatically, Economically. While all eyes have been on #India and #China after the recent scuffle in #Ladakh, experts have warned that Indian must be prepared to counter China-Turkey-Pakistan alliance.https://eurasiantimes.com/china-turkey-pakistan-alliance-dangerous-for-india-diplomatically-economically-militarily/

Over the years China and Turkey have been cementing their ties which have often been constrained by Turkey’s NATO membership. However, the bilateral ties got a fillip ever since China launched its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seized the opportunity as he struggles to consolidate his AKP Party and reclaim the glory of Turkey’s Ottoman past. Another reason was that Erdogan’s ambitions to anoint himself as the leader of the Muslim world saw Turkey embroil itself in wars in foreign lands, thus putting Ankara in financial difficulties.


Straddling two continents, Turkey is strategically important for China’s BRI, as a trade and transport hub, significantly cutting down freight transportation time from China to Europe and Africa. Turkey had also launched its own connectivity project to access the Caucasus and Central Asia through the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway, known as the Middle Corridor.

Turkey is also a priority country with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The bank is helping in the construction of the Salt Lake underground gas storage facility project, said to be the world’s largest storage project. Turkey is also an observer at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

So eager is Turkey for its partnership with China, that Erdogan who is positioning himself as the modern-day Caliph of the Muslims, has turned a blind eye to China’s oppression of its Uighur Muslim community.

While Erdogan has turned a blind to the plight of Uighur Muslims, he has voiced support for Indian Muslims living in Kashmir. In fact, Turkey was one of the three countries, besides China and Pakistan, to condemn India’s decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

Erdogan raised the issue in the UN General Assembly. During his February visit to Pakistan, he compared the struggle of Kashmiris with the Ottoman Empire’s fight during World War I.

Turkey provides Pakistan with emotional, ideological, and political support, while China is providing both material and political support. With China’s support, the Kashmir issue has thrice been discussed in the UN Security Council since August 5, 2019.

Pakistan’s insistence and Turkey’s focus has also seen the Organization of Islamic Cooperation raising the Kashmir issue more than it normally would have.

Considering Erdogan and his party’s Islamist orientation and well-documented support to radical and terror groups, together with Pakistan’s support and sponsor of cross-border terror, and China’s expansionist tendencies, the China-Pakistan-Turkey nexus is one India needs to watch out for.

Human said…
systems like the Russian S-400 are going to be useless when 75 unmanned drones are flying towards you. Do you risk wasting your missiles on them only to have a wave of real bombers come over the horizon minutes later.
Riaz Haq said…
Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis talking with Shekhar Gupta on The Print YouTube channel:

US-India nuclear deal is one-in-a-lifetime achieving

Chinese policymakers do not believe India's goal of "strategic independence" will prevent a real alliance with US against China

India has huge advantage over China in air and on the sea

In terms of ground forces where India spends its biggest chunk of defense budget, the best India can achieve vis-a-vis China or Pakistan is a stand-off (38 minutes)

https://youtu.be/mBEL-z5_6AA
Chan said…
Fact is that Mountain warfare has been changed forever... high up positions are no longer safe... precision munitions on loitering drones will make life hell for those dumb enough to pull their heads out of the dugout.
It is simultaneously not limited to offense but also supplying and supporting formations.
Riaz Haq said…
In March this year, Armenia bought radars from India which appear to have failed in the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Here's a 9 month old report from Armenian news outlet Massispost:


https://massispost.com/2020/03/armenia-purchases-weapon-locating-radars-from-india/

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) have inked a deal with the Armenian government to supply India produced weapon detecting radars in a $40 million deal, Times of India has reported.

Under this defense deal, India will supply four indigenous ‘Swathi’ weapon Locating Radar (WLR) to Armenia. The supply of the weapon to Armenia has already started.

According to Indian Government sources, this deal is being considered as a big boost for ‘Make in India’ in defense sector.

Armenia had conducted trials of weapon offered by India, Russia and Poland. After conducting the trial, Armenia found Indian Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) is more reliable and they decided to go for the Indian made system.

This Weapon Locating Radar(WLR) is cureently used by Indian Army at LoC in Jammu & Kashmir. The main work of this system to trace the source of attack by Pakistani positions. This Radar system can trace multiple weapons fired from different locations.
Riaz Haq said…
Do you wonder why #Armenia lost to #Azerbaijan so badly? Did #Modi really chasten #Turkey which supplied #drones to #Azeris? Look at this #Indian headline from 9 months ago: “India Wins Defense Deal With Armenia in Bid to Chasten Turkey” – The Diplomat


https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/india-wins-defense-deal-with-armenia-in-bid-to-chasten-turkey/


In a major success for India’s defense sector, India reportedly outbid Russia and Poland to win a $40 million defense deal to supply four indigenously-built military radars to Armenia. These radars, known as SWATHI, were developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

Indeed, this deal is a major achievement for the “Make in India” program in the defense sector as it could open new opportunities in Europe for the sale of India’s indigenous systems, at lower costs than equivalent European systems. It could also help the Indian defense industry to make inroads into markets in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. But this deal has other strategic implications. It is clearly aimed at countering increasing hostility from Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toward India.

In September 2019, speaking at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Erdogan – who has aspirations to position himself as a strong leader in the Muslim world – raised the issue of Kashmir at the behest of Pakistan. The residents of Jammu and Kashmir have been kept “virtually under blockade,” Erdogan, told the UN General Assembly, referring to the measures taken by New Delhi to maintain law and order in Kashmir following the revocation of Article 370. Erdogan also stated that the Kashmir issue has awaited a solution for 72 years and that a solution can only be found through dialogue between India and Pakistan — a position that India has strongly rejected, maintaining that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

Since then, New Delhi has not pulled any punches on Turkey. An immediate fallout of Erdogan’s speech was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi met – on the sidelines of the UN Summit itself – with the heads of Ankara’s archrivals, including neighboring Greece, Cyprus, and Armenia, all of whom have an ax to grind with Turkey. Particularly, Armenia is still locked in acrimony with Turkey over the 1915 genocide (a term Ankara strongly rejects), which saw the killing of over a million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey. Next, New Delhi cancelled Modi’s planned visit to Turkey and a lucrative $2.32 billion naval deal with Turkish defense company Anadolu Shipyard for five 45,000 ton fleet support ships for India, followed by a reduction in imports from Turkey. Pertinently, Pakistan awarded fresh naval ship contracts to Turkey to offset their loss. India also condemned Turkey’s military offensive against the Kurds and urged the Erdogan government to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Undeterred by New Delhi’s response, Erdogan has continued with his tirade against India. During his February visit to Islamabad, he reiterated his country’s support for Pakistan on Kashmir, telling a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament that India’s decision to revoke the erstwhile state’s special status had “exacerbated the troubles of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters.”

New Delhi’s response to Turkey has been evenly matched. And in a classical realpolitik move, as advocated by ancient Indian strategist Chanakya (regarded by some as the Indian Machiavelli) New Delhi has stepped up relations with Armenia. An enemy’s enemy is your friend, as the logic goes.


Thus, while Erdogan was cozying up with Imran Khan in Pakistan, the Indian and Armenian foreign ministers held a one-on-one dialogue in the United States. A joint statement read, “Armenian-Indian relations have gained a new quality,” stressing on “the importance of preserving the dynamics of bilateral political dialogue.”
Riaz Haq said…
A Great Change is Coming
Software, AI, autonomy — these are the ultimate weapons. The Pentagon must get serious about integrating AI into everything it has for 'hyperwar.'

By Amir Husain

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/08/great-change-coming/167858/

Five years ago, before many were talking about artificial intelligence and its practical applications to the field of battle, retired Gen. John Allen and I began a journey to not only investigate the art of the possible with AI, but also to identify its likely implications on the character and conduct of war.

In 2017, we wrote about how developments in AI could lead to what we referred to as “hyperwar” — a type of conflict and competition so automated that it would collapse the decision action loop, eventually minimizing human control over most decisions. Since then, my goal has been to encourage the organizational transformation necessary to adopt safer, more explainable AI systems to maintain our competitive edge, now that the technical transformation is at our doorstep.

Software, AI, autonomy — these are the ultimate weapons. These technologies are the difference between hundreds of old Mig-19 and Mig-21 fighter jets lying in scrap yards, and their transformation to autonomous, maneuverable, and so-called “attritable,” or expendable, supersonic drones built from abundant air frames, equipped with swarm coordination and the ability to operate in contested airspaces. Gone are the days when effectiveness and capability can be ascribed to individual systems and platforms. Now, it’s all about the network of assets, how they communicate, how they decide to act, and how efficiently they counter the system that is working in opposition to them. An individual aircraft carrier or a squadron of strategic bombers are no longer as independently meaningful as they once were.

In the emerging environment, network-connected, cognitive systems of war will engage each other. They will be made up principally of software, but also of legacy weapons platforms, humans, sometimes in combat, and newer assets capable of autonomous decision and action. The picture of the environment in which they operate across time and space will only be made clear by intelligent systems capable of fusing massive amounts of data and automatically interpreting them to identify and simulate forward the complex web of probabilities that result. Which actions are likely to be successful? With what degree of confidence? What are the adversary’s most likely counter-moves? The large scale, joint application of autonomously coordinated assets by a cognitive system will be unlike anything that has come before. It is this fast-evolving new paradigm, powered by artificial intelligence at every level, from the tactical to the strategic, that demands our attention. We must no longer focus on individual platforms or stand-alone assets, but on the cognitive system that runs an autonomous “Internet of War”.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani-American Amir Husain's SparkCognition Unveils New Defense-Focused AI Company

https://www.builtinaustin.com/2020/05/28/sparkcognition-government-systems-new-company

SparkCognition, an Austin-based startup that ordinarily builds AI-enabled industrial technology for the oil and gas, aviation and telecommunications sector, announced the creation of a new subsidiary that will be entirely devoted to government and defense to help them “meet the needs of their most pressing national security missions.”

Founded in 2013, SparkCognition makes artificial intelligence and machine learning software for its various clients. Its Darwin, DeepArmor, SparkPredict and DeepNLP platforms were created to help these clients “adapt to a changing digital landscape” and meet their company goals. After closing on a $100 million Series C round last year, the company claimed to be “one of the most valuable startups in Texas and one of the most valuable AI startups in the United States.”

While it has been doing national defense work for several years now, SparkCognition says it decided to create its separate SparkCognition Government Systems company so it can apply a more focused approach on the category. The plan is to tailor its commercial systems and create a new generation of AI and intelligence technology.

“We started to develop software capabilities for a variety of (Department of Defense) clients and partners in the defensive industry,” founder and CEO Amir Husain said in a virtual event announcing the new company, as reported by the Austin-American Statesman. “We invented AI-powered weapon systems, prototyped a few and secured patents for many more. We have learned rich lessons and identified the shortcomings that prevent us now, as a country, from taking the lead in this critical new area.”

SparkCognition also announced a board for the new company, which consists of Husain and several other erstwhile high-ranking government and military leaders like retired Marine Corps General John R. Allen, former Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow, retired Navy Admiral John M. Richardson and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work.

According to Husain, SparkCognition Government Systems will be the first defense-focused AI technology company of its kind and will be used to help the government analyze complex data for quicker intelligence decisions, apply predictive and prescriptive analytics to improve logistics and deploy autonomous technology. Disbrow said in the same live event that the goal is to use this technology to decrease the need to send troops into “high risk zones.”

“Warfare of the future will be characterized by rapidly evolving technology, of which AI will perhaps be the most influential,” Allen said in a statement. “The side with the greater capacity to understand the implications of these technologies, and to employ them effectively, safely, and in accordance with the law, will be the side that prevails.”
Riaz Haq said…
War in the Caucasus: Lessons

by Ejaz Haider

https://www.thefridaytimes.com/war-in-the-caucasus-lessons/

Azerbaijan could either just swallow Armenian intransigence or wait for the right opportunity. It gambled on the latter.

But, and that’s important: war is serious business and cannot be undertaken lightly.

At the politico-strategic level, the growing differential between Azeri and Armenian economies unfolded in Baku’s favour. The bigger economy (oil revenues, tourism, higher exports etc) allowed Baku to spend more on defence. However, except for 2015 when Azerbaijan’s defence spending rose to 5.6% of its GDP, it averaged at just below 4% between 2009 and 2019. Armenia, while spending relatively more on defence as a percentage of its GDP, averaging 4.5%, could not catch up given the much smaller size of its economy. According to data by the Stockholm International and Peace Research Institute, Baku spent some USD24 billion on defence between 2009 and 2018. Armenia spent a little over USD4 billion for the same period.

Nonetheless, the economy is just one factor, though a very important one. A state intending to go to war must also have its diplomatic flanks covered. Armenia has always been a close ally of Russia. Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan have seen ebbs and flows. However, since 2018, Armenia-Russia relations despite a military pact (Russia also maintains a base in Armenia) have been strained while Moscow’s relations with Baku have improved.

Azerbaijan also has very close relations with Turkey for historical, ethnic and linguistic reasons. Armenia and Turkey have historically been inimical. Azerbaijan and Turkey might be two separate states, but they consider themselves the same people. Azerbaijan also has strong ties with Israel. Turkey is also the second most important state player in the Caucasus and under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has developed a complicated relationship with Russia, which considers the former Soviet republics as Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Azerbaijan has been buying military equipment from Turkey, Israel and Russia. Its military has very close ties with the Turkish military; both sides have been conducting joint exercises and Turkey has been training Azeri officers and ranks. Azerbaijan’s military training, deployment, employment of equipment and doctrinal development owes greatly to the Turkish military.

Lesson 2: if a state wants to go to war, it must have strong backers.

Azerbaijan also has a strong legal case on its conflict with Armenia and the separatist Armenian government (not even recognised by Armenia for that reason). The UN resolutions completely support Azerbaijan’s claims on N-K.

Lesson 3: it’s always good to have a strong legal case if a state wants to use force.

This is as far as the politico-strategic environment is concerned and Azerbaijan managed to create its asymmetric advantage over Armenia at that level.

But war, in the end, is a contest where the will of the fighting sides is tested. That’s where we come to the military-operational level. The lessons at this level are quite fascinating.

From the actual conduct of war it is clear that Armenia was fighting the previous war (when it had an edge) while Azerbaijan had planned its offensives for the present war. It showed superior planning (the opening phase targeted the relatively flatter southern districts abutting N-K) and execution. Here are some lessons.

Riaz Haq said…
War in the Caucasus: Lessons

by Ejaz Haider

https://www.thefridaytimes.com/war-in-the-caucasus-lessons/



Here are some lessons.

1: If a fighting side cannot integrate the battle space with sensors, other electronic warfare systems and counter-drone measures, its land forces (troops, armour, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, artillery guns, radar stations etc) will be in trouble. As has been noted by various analysts through the six weeks of the conflict, Azerbaijan used its Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drone (which has four hard points for delivering laser-guided smart munitions) and Israeli Harop, which is a loitering munition optimised for suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) ops. Given that it loiters, finds, acquires and attacks its target in a self-destruct, terminal mode, it’s also referred to as a kamikaze drone.

Azerbaijan employed both drones very effectively against Armenian tanks, IFVs/APCs, ground radars and artillery pieces.

Corollary: Armenian military had to hide its armour and mechanised assets and couldn’t employ them usefully in offensive mode. While it’s too early, as some analysts have suggested, that the era of the MBT and mechanised infantry is over, the conflict clearly tells us that without adequate counter-measures, armour and mechanised columns will be badly exposed to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and firepower of combat drones.

Azerbaijan integrated its ground-based fire power (indirect artillery fire, multi-barrel rocket launchers) with ISR data from the drones and used that for target acquisition and engagement. It seems to have learnt both the use of combat drones and integrating them with land-based firepower from operations conducted by the Turkish military in northern Syria against the Syrian Arab Army.
The conflict has also shown how combat drones can perform in SEAD and DEAD (destruction of enemy air defence) operations. Again, the Azeri military seems to have learnt this from the Turkish military. Bayraktar TB-2 has made a name for itself in Syria and Libya for successfully hunting the Russian-made Pantsir short- to medium-range mobile AD system. Like the Turkish military, Azerbaijan also used the MAM-L smart micro-munition against Armenia’s Strela system (9K33 and 9K35), a highly mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile.
The effective employment of combat drones against land forces, integrating them with ground-based firepower and using them for SEAD/DEAD missions not only managed to destroy much of Armenia’s offensive capability while also degrading its defences, but, by extension, made it easier for Azerbaijan to use its own armour, APCs and ground forces to capture and hold territory. In other words, Azerbaijan first dented the Armenian offensive and defensive capabilities and then used its land forces in a traditional offensive mode to capture and hold territory.
This is of course an overview of how the conflict unfolded. It does not mean that future wars will always be fought like this. Adversaries with symmetrical capabilities will have to further innovate to establish an asymmetrical advantage. There are other emerging technologies that are changing, and will change, the conduct of war in ways that one can only conjecture about at this time.

There is also the issue of escalation dominance and spirals, especially between adversaries that are nuclear armed. That raises other questions apropos of how effectively operations can be conducted and how, if at all, they can be conducted without the two sides getting into a spiral that could lead to crossing the nuclear thresholds.

The most important point to note, however, is the nexus between innovation (both in planning and employment of equipment and systems) and creating and maintaining an asymmetric advantage. That is what Azerbaijan achieved in this war. And that is why it has emerged as the victor.
Riaz Haq said…
How does drone warfare impact India’s preparedness?

https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/drone-india-learn-azerbaijan-victory-armenia-deep-dive-1742900-2020-11-21

With neighbours such as Pakistan and China, threat lies for India at any given point of time. Bolstering its military with the latest technology is the need of the hour, for which India has already been making moves in the combat drone/UCAV spectrum. The Indian Army is in possession of around 90 Heron Surveillance drones and the Harop loitering munition. Additionally, the army is planning to acquire more of these from Israel.

In August this year, the defence approved the upgrade of Heron UAVs. The upgrade will include arming some of these drones, sources in Indian security establishment said. The decision comes amid the India-China standoff as the Indian military is preparing to enhance its surveillance capabilities at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Heron UAVs are already being used in the forward areas of Ladakh.

India is also looking to expedite its testing of the indigenous surveillance drones ‘Rustom-2’ before inducting them into service.

During the defence expo in Lucknow in February this year, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) from Israel and Dynnamatic Technologies Limited signed an agreement for manufacturing of drones.

The Indian Army also opted for the SpyLite mini-UAV for high-altitude aerial surveillance. This is built by Cyient Solutions & Systems (CSS), a joint venture between Cyient Ltd (India) and BlueBird Aero Systems (Israel).

With the opening of the American drone market, India is also exploring the possibility of acquiring several GA-ASI MQ-9 Reapers from the US subject to approval.

Talking about threats from neighbours, Pakistan has a plethora of options to choose from if it decides to expand its already existing combat drone options. Both Turkey and China design and manufacture high-end drone equipment. On the other hand, India will hope to bank upon Israel and the US.

With regards to the use of combat drones in our part of the world (read India’s border with Pakistan and China) drone warfare may not be as successful as it was in the Armenian context. This is because both India and Pakistan have heavy air defence systems.


Unless India completely dominates the air warfare, drones may not be as successful when it comes to combat operations. The induction of Rafale may help India with this regard.

China is the bigger player when it comes to drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It has invested a lot of effort in developing civilian drones and the same has been translated into them developing combat drones. China is one of the leading countries when it comes to R&D concerning drone technology.

China also possesses anti-drone technology used to jam signals that disrupt drones or shoot incoming drones in order to divert or destroy them.


With China’s growing dominance in global drone market and Pakistan’s proximity with Beijing, India needs to quickly adapt to the changing game of drone warfare as it is likely to become even more prevalent in coming years.

----------

UCAVs also have a less carrying capacity compared to fighter jets. Hence, they are used in small but precise attacks rather than air-based raids that jets usually engage in. Azerbaijan used a new method of precision warfare that best compliments the use of such drones. This was only possible for rich and well-established militaries before, but now technology has made this more accessible to countries like Azerbaijan.

To name a few, countries with outstanding border conflicts include India, Pakistan, Serbia, Ukraine and many others. All these nations have already started purchasing attack drones and UCAVs.

The combat drone market can further explode by the Trump administration's push to deregulate their armed drone sales in a bid to allow the US manufacturers to compete in an export market dominated by China, Israel and Turkey.
Riaz Haq said…
The Impact of
Artificial Intelligence
on Strategic Stability
and Nuclear Risk
Volume III
South Asian Perspectives
edited by petr topychkanov


https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/impact_of_ai_on_strategic_stability_and_nuclear_risk_vol_iii_topychkanov_1.pdf



The ongoing renaissance of artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the world. Just
like many other developing countries, India and Pakistan—the two nuclear-armed
states of South Asia—are exploring the subsequent opportunities for economic and
social change. Their political leaders seem to prioritize civilian applications of AI
over the military, and public attention reflects the political priorities. National
efforts to militarize AI do not receive the same public coverage as civilian AI
developments.
Meanwhile, according to the available open-source information, India and
Pakistan are increasingly interested in the potential benefits of AI for defence and
security. This might be one of the reasons why an expert debate on the opportunities and risks posed by the AI renaissance in the military realm has started
in recent years. However, the debate suffers from large gaps, particularly in the
emerging discussion on the potential impact of AI on strategic stability and
nuclear risk in South Asia. This issue has been underexplored by scholars studying South Asia from both inside and outside the region.
This edited volume—which follows earlier volumes on Euro-Atlantic and East
Asian perspectives—tries to fill the gaps in the scholarly debate on this important
topic and to facilitate further regional debate. It is based on a workshop held in
Colombo in February 2019. The eight expert contributors—from South Asia and
around the world—reflect the variety of issues, approaches and views.
It is clear from a comparative study of the state of adoption of AI in South
Asia that India and Pakistan are playing catch-up in the world competition on
military AI. Compared to the United States, China and Russia, India’s advances
are modest, while Pakistan’s are even less visible. One of the reasons seems to
be under-resourcing and inefficiencies in defence research and state industries.
These prohibit the development and adoption of emerging technologies within a
reasonable time frame.

However, according to contributors from India and Pakistan, both countries are well aware of the strategic significance of AI. They see AI as one of many enablers of the mutual strategic balance. India must also take into consideration the role of AI in the military build-up of China, one of its long-term security concerns.
In assessing the strategic significance of AI, the expert contributors—regardless of their origin—agree that AI is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, AI could enhance nuclear command and control, early warning, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and the physical security of nuclear capabilities, among other areas. In this way it would improve states’ sense of security. On the other hand, the same advances could cast doubt on the survivability of their respective second-strike capabilities. This doubt would stimulate more aggressive nuclear postures that could increase nuclear risk.
Riaz Haq said…
Inexpensive Turkish armed drones reshaping warfare

https://www.dailysabah.com/business/defense/inexpensive-turkish-armed-drones-reshaping-warfare


Turkey’s armed low-cost unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have proven their capabilities on the field are reshaping battlefields and geopolitics, a (Wall Street Journal) report said Thursday.


https://www.wsj.com/articles/armed-low-cost-drones-made-by-turkey-reshape-battlefields-and-geopolitics-11622727370


The drones were successfully used in several recent regional conflicts in which they were seen pinpointing and hunting down armored vehicles and air defense systems, including in Libya, Syria and the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The drones also proved particularly useful in the fight against terrorist groups.

Smaller militaries around the world have been seen deploying inexpensive missile-equipped drones against armored enemies, proving it to be an advantageous new battlefield tactic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Using affordable digital technology, the Turkish drones wrecked air-defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles in wars in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan, the report notes.

"These drones point to future warfare being shaped as much by cheap but effective fighting vehicles as expensive ones with the most advanced technology," it said.

Last July during a virtual gathering of the Air and Space Power Conference, Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stressed the "game-changing" role of Turkish drones in modern warfare in the Middle East and North Africa.

"We need to look at the lessons of others. Look how Turkey has been operating in Libya, where it has used Bayraktar TB2 UAVs since mid-2019," said Wallace at the time.

The Bayraktar TB2 is a tactical armed UAV system developed and manufactured by drone magnate Baykar Makina.

According to the company, currently, 160 Bayraktar platforms are being put to use by Turkey, Qatar, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Poland last month announced it would buy 24 Bayraktar drones.

The Wall Street Journal report compared Bayraktar TB2 with the American MQ-9.

The TB2 is lightly armed with four laser-guided missiles. Its radio-controlled apparatus limits its basic range to around 200 miles, roughly a fifth of the ground the MQ-9 can cover, said the report.

"Yet it is utilitarian and reliable – qualities reminiscent of the Soviet Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle that changed warfare in the 20th century," praised the report.

"A set of six Bayraktar TB2 drones, ground units and other essential operations equipment costs tens of millions of dollars, rather than hundreds of millions for the MQ-9," said the report.

The Bayraktar TB2 first made an international name for itself in the Syria war early last year after the Turkish military launched Operation Spring Shield in northern Syria, backed by electronic warfare systems, ground troops, artillery and warplanes.

The report also highlighted the role of the drones in the Libyan civil war, which it said "helped turn the tide" in the conflict last spring.

Turkey backed the Tripoli-based government against putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar and his forces.

"Improved drone tactics honed in Syria provided the upper hand against Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems known as Pantsir, handing the Tripoli government aerial supremacy. By June, Haftar's forces retreated from Tripoli," outlined the report.
Riaz Haq said…


The TB2 (armed drone) was born of Turkey’s dissatisfaction with available models from the U.S. and Israel, and the country’s desire for systems under its control to fight the PKK, a Kurdish militant group.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/armed-low-cost-drones-made-by-turkey-reshape-battlefields-and-geopolitics-11622727370

“Those countries did not cooperate with us sufficiently, so we had to launch our own program,” Mustafa Varank, Turkey’s minister of industry and technology, said in an interview. “Turkey is now reaping the fruits of taking the right decisions at the right time.”

Baykar emerged as a leader among several Turkish drone producers after spotting a niche in the early 2000s, said Mr. Bayraktar, the company’s chief executive. His brother Selcuk Bayraktar, who took advanced studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came up with flight-control software and guidance systems while using off-the-shelf components.

During development, company officials set up a workshop at a military base to get a firsthand understanding, including from a colonel who took them to a patch of bloodied ground where, they said, Turkish soldiers were killed by the PKK.

In 2007, Turkey launched a national competition to supply mini drones, which yielded an order of 76 from Baykar. At the time, the U.S. wouldn’t sell armed drones to Turkey. Baykar developed the TB2 and gradually replaced foreign components with locally produced ones. In 2015, the company successfully test-fired a precision-guided munition.

Turkey’s military initially used the drones within its own borders and in northern Iraq and Syria. Soon, Mr. Erdogan deployed them in wars near Turkey’s borders.

Azerbaijan, geographically and culturally close to Turkey, procured a set of TB2 drones last year. The country had lost control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region to Armenia in a war that ended in a 1994 cease-fire. Rising petroleum wealth had bolstered Azerbaijan’s military in the years since.

The TB2s, as well as Israeli-made drones, helped Azerbaijan overwhelm Armenian forces. Attacks were recorded for videos and posted online by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry.

--------

Oryx, a blog that verifies destroyed equipment using photos and videos, cited the destruction by the drones of 106 Armenian tanks, 146 artillery pieces, 62 multiple rocket-launch systems, 18 surface-to-air missile systems, seven radar units and 161 other vehicles. Total losses, Oryx noted, were likely higher. Azerbaijan had 30 tanks destroyed, among other vehicles and equipment, according to the blog.

After six weeks of fighting, the Kremlin, which is close to both countries but has a military alliance with Armenia and troops on its territory, brokered a cease-fire in November, and Azerbaijan regained most of its long-lost territory.

The Azerbaijan victory caught the attention of Turkey’s suppliers. Some companies and countries, including Canada, halted export of components used in the TB2. Baykar company officials said they have integrated a Turkish camera and accelerated work on a replacement engine, which is expected by year’s end.

Riaz Haq said…
As India remains engulfed in conflicts with both Pakistan and China concurrently, one thing that the Indian military officials would be keenly evaluating is the drone strength of both adversaries.

https://eurasiantimes.com/backed-by-china-turkey-why-pakistans-drone-power-could-be-a-new-headache-for-india/

Pakistan is also known to have acquired 50 Wing Loong II armed drones from China, which according to official Chinese media, could turn out to be a “nightmare for Indian ground formations in high-altitude areas,” with India having the little capability to repel advanced stand-off weapons.

Both China and Pakistan are bolstering their unmanned attack capabilities, while India is preparing to lease the US and Israeli armed drones to boost its capability at the borders. India has so far employed its Israel-imported Searcher and Harop drones only for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.


-------------------

Last year’s war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh clearly demonstrated the decisive advantage attack drones could bring to any battlefield.

Drone strikes by Azerbaijan targeting Armenian troops, destroying military installations, tanks, air defense systems, and artillery tilted the balance of the war in favor of the Turkey-backed country. The war over Nagorno-Karabakh was unequivocal proof of the strategic advantage provided by armed drones to the militaries possessing them.

Drones have proved to be a powerful, effective and low-cost alternative to conventional weapons, and countries around the world are in a race to acquire the most advanced armed drone fleets.

The US was the first country to use Predator armed drones in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks and since then many countries have been producing and exporting them, most notably Israel, Turkey and China.

Azerbaijan had acquired a substantial fleet of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and Israeli kamikaze drones that allowed it to decimate the Armenian ground forces and Russian air defense systems.

Turkey has reaped the benefits of the performance of its drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh war with multiple nations lining up to procure the country’s unmanned systems.

The country has sold its Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to countries like Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar, and Libya so far. Poland recently became the first NATO nation to buy 24 Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey and according to reports, another NATO member from Europe, Latvia, may follow suit.


There have been reports that Pakistan has expressed deep interest to acquire TB2 drones from Turkey and going by the strong defense ties both nations enjoy, these speculations could soon turn out to be a reality.

The Bayraktar TB-2 drones, as demonstrated in the recent battle, can deceive modern air defense systems which include, as proven recently, Russian Pantsir and S-300 air defense systems.

Pakistan is also known to have acquired 50 Wing Loong II armed drones from China, which according to official Chinese media, could turn out to be a “nightmare for Indian ground formations in high-altitude areas,” with India having the little capability to repel advanced stand-off weapons.

Both China and Pakistan are bolstering their unmanned attack capabilities, while India is preparing to lease the US and Israeli armed drones to boost its capability at the borders. India has so far employed its Israel-imported Searcher and Harop drones only for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes.


Is India Prepared To Counter China, Pakistan?
India is also acquiring new advanced Heron drones on lease from Israel to keep an eye on the activities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The new fleet will have more capabilities in terms of anti-jamming capabilities and weapons, reports indicate.

The Indian Navy also equipped itself with two Predator drones leased from the American firm General Atomics. The MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones will be deployed for long-range missions over the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

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