Sam Cranny-Evans Profile picture
Research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), focused on C4ISR. All views my own.
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23 Aug
Camouflage Concealment and Deception (CCD) - a thread: Ever looked at these types of things and wondered if they are any good? Or what impact they would actually have on formation survivability? The following is from the @JanesINTEL archive:
"CCD involves several techniques designed to work together: hiding a target to conceal its presence, blending it into the background, disguising its identity, disrupting its outline by changing regular patterns or features in the scene, and using false targets as decoys."
So - first off, the inflatable tanks are part of a system, not a stand alone thing. What is their goal? Simply put, reduce the probability of a successful engagement/weapons grade target info being shared. But you already know how good are they?
Read 16 tweets
20 Aug
Right-oh, so a few details on the @USMC tests of NMESIS - that unmanned JLTV thing with some lovely anti-ship missiles on the back in this @JanesINTEL article by @ashroque13:… Image
What did they do? “During the exercise, forward-deployed forces on expeditionary advanced bases detected and, after joint command-and-control collaboration with other US forces, responded to a ship-based adversary...
simultaneous impacts from multiple, dispersed weapons systems and platforms across different US services, including NMESIS, engaged the threat.” This seems to be key to the whole concept, and the pivot of the USMC.
Read 29 tweets
16 Jul
A thread on shaped charges, building upon yesterday's theme of ATGMs, which you can find here: Shaped charges are essentially a type of hollow charge explosive, designed to magnify the explosive's effects on a target.
A hollow charge is an explosive with a hollow cavity facing the target - this section can be a cone, hemisphere, or a number of other shapes. The cavity causes gaseous products formed during detonation of the explosive to focus, concentrating the blast's energy.
This is known variously as the Munroe Effect (US/UK) and the Neuman Principle (Ger). Munroe showed that the cavity would increase penetration into steel by printing 'USN 1884' into a charge and detonating it against steel.
Read 24 tweets
15 Jul
A little thing on ATGMs based on a past conflict. So, in 2006 the Israeli Defence Forces deployed Merkavas to Lebanon as part of Operation 'Change of Direction'. There, they were subjected to a very high number of ATGM attacks by Hizbullah.
The key points (if you don't fancy reading further) are that modern MBTs can have high levels of survivability against HEAT missiles even when penetrated. And, that small packets of armour are not a good thing to use against dispersed infantry - but you already knew that right?
In total, 50 Merkavas were successfully hit by ATGM/RPGs, which included Kornet-E, Metis-M, RPG-29, Konkurs and the good old Fagot. The Merkavas included the Mk 2, 3, and 4 in service from 83, 90 and 2001 respectively.
Read 13 tweets
15 Jul
Some artillery related things for your Thursday morning tea/coffee/energy drink: First up, @BAESystemsInc has revealed details of UK trials of its extended range 155 mm artillery round that were conducted last year:…
It offers a range increase over the current suite of ammo available to the AS90, and also provided a range in excess of 40 km with an L52 firing stand, showing it will be compatible with MFP.
Next up, the @USArmy is conducting final assembly of its first four ERCA prototypes. To date the service has been test firing an early version of the weapon that it dubs the XM1299 prototype zero.
Read 5 tweets
13 May
A little thread on the PLA's Xinjiang Military District (MD). Affiliated with the Western Theatre Command (WTC) as this Jamestown image shows. Primary role is likely related to internal security, but also with responsibility for defending against India. Image
It is thought to actually host more troops than the Tibet MD, around 70k vs 40k according to the Belfer Center. It is presumed that Xinjiang would be one of the first responders to support Tibet in the event of conflict with India because of this, along with the WTC.
ORBAT: Mech Inf Div, Armour regt, 2 x Inf regt, Arty regt, GBAD regt, 3 x Motorized inf divs, Arty bde, "high powered" arty bde, SOF bde, 2 x independent regts, 2 x border def regts. There is also a PLARF formation with DF-21 missiles based near Korla. Image
Read 15 tweets
8 Apr
It has taken a day or two but @tom_bullock_ has brought together this @JanesINTEL article on observed Russian troop movements to the border with Ukraine:… Image
Tom has identified at least 14 separate Russian units, including what may be the 119 Missile Brigade with Iskanders. The moves at present appear benign and somewhat leisurely. And, as others have observed, there are few signs of an offensive nature at present. Image
There has been some cyber activity recently, including a state-sponsored attack on a Ukrainian government site in an attempt to steal data, and there was much greater activity in February. But, there are no clear signs of a targeted campaign. Which we might expect to precede war.
Read 10 tweets
28 Sep 20
A quarterly reminder that tracking and engaging UAVs is not a simple or easy task. These videos release by an Azeri YouTube outlet show what are supposedly Baryaktar TB2 strikes against Armenia:
A lot of the targets shown are short range air defence assets, notionally designed to protect a forces against low flying aircraft and helos. Some limited ability to engage missiles could be present too.
Why does this keep happening? Drones being used to smash air defences and other vehicles seemingly at will? Well, first off, locating and tracking UAVs is hard. They can be built largely from composites or plastic as opposed to metals like large aircraft.
Read 12 tweets
26 Sep 20
I think a few analysts might dispute this. The PLA airports are outnumbered by Indian ones in the LOAC region, and the PLAAF is aware of this. There’s a rail route under construction, but the short term stuff would depend on which side had control of the sky.
This kind of rhetoric is partially fuelled by the last war; China had to relinquish its territorial gains as it could not support its troops. This may be intended to signal that it won’t be the same next time. There have definitely been improvements eg the joint logistics force Image
But fighting in mountains is hard, and the forces assigned to the Tibetan MD aren’t that numerous. They’d be relying on PLAGF forces from elsewhere to maintain the fight. And, more importantly, the planes and roads to get them there. All infrastructure could be threatened. Image
Read 5 tweets
25 Sep 20
So it seems that Project Convergence got off to a rocky start. Of the two Excalibur rounds fired, one failed in flight and missed its target, the other one came close. A UAV replicating a future VTOL capability engaged one target with a GBU, the second GBU-69 failed and was lost. Image
In the third phase the mortars used by deployed infantry intended to replicate NGCV missed all targets with all shots fired. The network, which utilised MEO and LEO satellites as well as Prometheus AI seems to have performed adequately.
Director of the Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT) Major GeneralPeter Gallagher told Janes that this was an experiment, with the network built in a very short space of time, from the ground up. Expect more developments of the project in the near future.
Read 4 tweets
25 Sep 20
Some more info on that USMC force concept for 2030 from General David Berger: He states that the USMC is still set up for a conflict on the Korean peninsula, and that this isn't optimal for any future conflict. However, conventional large amphibious assault ships will remain. Image
Berger adds that the decision to divest tanks and towed artillery has been difficult. But it is unlikely that the USMC will need to land multiple brigades across multiple beaches. Marines will be located on multiple ships, rather than one, and able to go ashore whenever they want
“We have to spread out. We have to have a dispersed, distributed force lay down in the Pacific. Our posture must change,” Berger said. The navy and marines are working together on a long-term shipbuilding plan. However, Berger stressed that funds were limited. Image
Read 4 tweets
24 Sep 20
Whilst I am waiting for something to load, here are some pictures of an MLRS on a Chinese EQ2050. New developments are coming thick and fast for the PLAGF - especially in the indirect fires segment. ImageImage
Recent developments include a new 4x4 122 mm GOAT, as well as an ATGM carrier for Tibet as well as PLC-181 GOATs for a few theatre commands, Janes articles here:… and here respectively:… ImageImage
Janes has also reported on a tracked amphibious bridging system:… And most recently a new recce vehicle based on the Type 05 amphibious platform:… ImageImage
Read 5 tweets
24 Sep 20
There aren’t many ways to interpret Beijing’s sentiments here. I’ve been thinking recently of some analysis I have read that suggests the coming decade will be the one in which China makes its big moves on Taiwan etc. The theory is as follows:
Beijing has apparently calculated that the US/West has a short memory. The CCP supposedly realises that following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 89, it took around 20 years for this to be forgotten, which was marked by the 08 Olympics, the theorists claim.
They claim that the latest that Beijing can militarily retake Taiwan, and other territory, is 2030, as this will give the west time to forget, and allow a celebration in 2049 of National Rejuvenation. This decade is therefore called the “Decade of Concern.” Image
Read 5 tweets
22 Sep 20 according to this report via BMPD, the Thai navy is set to procure/receive the FK-3 air defence system from China. Another indication of the growing defence ties between the two countries. Is it a genuine relationship, or one of convenience for Thailand? Image
I have read that the country's VT4s may have been bought with dried fruit, and perhaps other Thai resources. This kind of relationship allows the country to rearm at a lower cost than would be the case with a Western nation. It also helps make a friend of China. Image
Being friends with China is important for some countries in the APAC region. Some have realised that the US cannot be counted on to ensure peace. Others that they are financially reliant upon China, which trumps the defence relations held with the US. Image
Read 4 tweets
18 Sep 20
The US Army has launched project convergence to assess its ability to integrate sensors and shooters into an AI-assisted kill-chain. The project is designed to establish the base architecture for the use of AI at the tactical level.… Image
The sensors are national technical means and Prometheus, which are linked to two XM1299 SPHs (modified M109s) firing the XM1113 Excalibur ER round. The project has 3 phases. No.1 is penetrating strategic standoff by targeting HV targets.
No. 2 is A2/AD penetration using air-launched sensors and the XM1299 with XM1113. No. 3 explores freedom of manoeuvre with 120 mm mortars, and "NGCVs using a small form factor UAV." I suppose one interesting thing is the use of the XM1299 as opposed to M142. Image
Read 4 tweets
3 Sep 20
Super pleased to have been shortlisted for two awards at the Defence Media Awards this year. The first article looked at some Russian armour and weapons technologies through patents and scientific literature.
I worked with my colleague Mark Cazalet and a brilliant materials scientist called Alper Keceli from a Turkish company called Menatek. We got some custom graphics drawn up to illustrate some unique concepts, it was a very interesting piece to write. Image
Second nomination is for a series of three articles looking at the use of UAVs, past (Ukraine), present (Turkey in Syria), and future (Russia vs NATO). Both articles required different skills and challenges and I really enjoyed writing them! H/T @gunner_schmulke for the assist. Image
Read 4 tweets
24 Aug 20
I missed this, so maybe you did?… According to Rostec, a revised version of the Sprut-SDM1 has been delivered to the Russian MoD for trials, after which the organisation hopes the vehicle will be approved for production. Image
Tests will include high-altitude and maritime environments, as well as temp ranges of -40 TO +40C. I think the key element of these (and BMD-4s in general) is the mobility. They can appear almost anywhere, and the running gear configuration gives it a low track pressure.
Add to that they are amphibious up to sea state 3 (depending on the scale this could be waves <2 m in height), air deployable by parachute (with some loonies inside it), and a 125 mm gun for direct fire. The thin armour is likely a reflection of its role. Image
Read 8 tweets
21 Aug 20
The end of this week has led me into more research on the AMX-10RC, a favourite of mine mostly because of the anecdotes I have read about it, including one time in Afghanistan where one was taken up a mountain to engage some insurgents in the middle of the night. Image
This article makes some interesting assessments on the nature of French warfare:… including that the French Army favours mobility over protection, that the low-tech nature of its vehicles was a virtue in Mali, as repairing and maintaining them was easier,
and that French vehicles carry disproportionate firepower for their weight class - this is specific to the AMX-10RC and ERC-90. Another important element to the French vehicle park is that most of it can be transported by C-130 or C-160. Essential for places like Mali.
Read 4 tweets
20 Aug 20
If you have ever wondered about the French involvement in the First Gulf War, this seems like a good resource:… it includes interviews with plenty of senior French officers and journos who were there, and some unique images too. Image
An interesting take away for me is the reference to the FAR, a French rapid reaction force that was used to respond to situations as they arose. It was deployed in the 70s, to Beirut in the 80s and to Iraq in the 1990s. Every time with only a few days' notice.
The US commended the FAR for its rapid mobility during the offensive phase of the war, and the AMX-10RC deployed by the 1st Saphi Regt moved further than any other unit during the first day of the offensive. The formation was designed to conduct mobile counter-offensives.
Read 5 tweets
19 Aug 20
The Bundeswehr has started tests to assess the procedures needed to transport a Boxer via A400M. As the load ramp is limited to 32 tonnes and the vehicle weighs 35, the mission module is separated and loaded onto a second A400M. Loading the drive module takes around 10 minutes.
It is lashed into place with 15 chains and the 300 eyelets that are situated around the plane. In some instances, the Bundeswehr found that "some chains cannot be attached as planned because a component of the boxer or simply a bolt is in the way."
Once fully certified the Bundeswehr will be able to transport two Boxers using three A400Ms. However, this means that the equipment will have to be in place at the target location to reassemble them. According to one German officer I have spoken to, this would include...
Read 7 tweets
18 Aug 20
A robot thing: The UK's DASA is looking to better understand the capability of robotic and autonomous systems to form an autonomous convoy capability on behalf of the MoD. It is looking for info on convoy capabilities both mature and in development.… Image
This is an area that many have investigated, China has integrated leader-follower (L-F) technology into its trucks for austere environments, and @PatriaOyj has demonstrated similar capabilities for its AMV 8 x 8 family.
@OshkoshDefense has been contracted to integrate its L-F tech onto US Army Palletized Load System Vehicles, and Arquus is looking to utilise commercial L-F tech developed by Volvo in its ARMIS range of trucks. The latter does not require GPS and uses waypoints the company said. Image
Read 6 tweets