Exported Russian arms more and more successful in local conflicts

Soviet weapons which were supplied to nearly half of the world countries were actively engaged in dozens of wars and conflicts of the 20th century. Even after the Soviet collapse, many countries, even US allies, prefer to buy Russian arms. It is confirmed by arms trade statistics which put Russia second after the United States, the Army Standard writes.

Analysis exported Russian arms more and more used in local conflicts
Pantsir-S1 in a live-fire demonstration during Army 2018 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The interest in Russian air defense weapons has increased of late. It is mostly due to the Syrian campaign of the Russian armed forces. Several countries are acquiring upgraded S-300. They are Egypt, Iran, Venezuela and others. There are also buyers of the latest S-400 - China, India, and Turkey. Short and medium-range air defense is also popular, including Pantsir-S1 missile gun.

Syria is armed with export options of S-300 and Pantsir-S1. They were engaged against a missile strike by the United States, the UK and France in April 2018. They are regularly engaged to repel Israeli air raids. Israel has reported the destruction of one Pantsir. Experts concluded the weapon was not in a combat state and could not repel the attack.

Pantsir was engaged not only in Syria. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the main operators. At least 15 Pantsirs were engaged in the military campaign of the Arab coalition in Yemen. The first photos of a Pantsir in Yemen appeared in August 2015. Since then they have been reliably defending UAE troops from the air. Saudi forces in Yemen are regularly attacked by missiles and drones of Yemeni rebels and sustain losses. The Saudi air defense is armed with US Patriots which could not reliably defend the Saudi troops in Yemen, as well as residential settlements and infrastructure in the kingdom.

The UAE did not face such a problem. Media reported that Pantsir-S1s repelled several dozen rebel strikes with drones and missiles. Pantsir was involved in Yemen in a friendly fire incident. US-made UH-60 helicopter of Saudi Arabia was mistakenly downed by UAE air defense in April 2017. The launch team made a mistake, but the Pantsir did its job.

The UAE sent several Pantsir to Libya to support the National Army of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. They were deployed to defend air force bases. Open sources said that on July 5, 2019 one Pantsir downed a combat aircraft of the national accord government based in Tripoli which is officially backed by several western countries.

Unofficial reports said the Ethiopian air defense is operating Pantsir-S1 to protect the dam on the Blue Nile. The Ethiopians fear an air strike from Sudan or Egypt, as the dam threatens to cut the inflow of the Nile water to their countries. Local media showed a Pantsir protecting the dam. Thus, Pantsir-S1 remains in a high demand.

Russian heavy and light armor is also in demand in the world. The T-90 main battle tank has been selling like hot cakes in the world for long. The interest in BMP-3 and BTR-82A is also high.

T-90 properly participated in counterterrorist campaigns in North Caucasus and in other regions of the world, e.g. in Syria. T-90 were handed over to some Syrian units. Their engagement was officially confirmed in the advance on Palmyra and fighting for Al-Hader in Aleppo province in the autumn of 2015, unblocking of Nubbol and Zahra towns in Idlib province on January 22-29, 2018, the liberation of southern Syrian provinces in June-July 2018. There is footage in Internet of the use of T-90 by the Syrian army in fighting in Hama province.

T-90s are used by the 4th assault corps of the Syrian army, the Republican Guard of Syria, and several militia units. Only one case of T-90 destruction by the militants was reported. There are numerous cases when T-90s survived the attacks of militants and the crew remained alive. In 2014-2017 the Iraqi army lost 23 Abrams tanks. T-90 losses in Syria in 2015-2019 are only one vehicle.

Soviet weapons which were supplied to nearly a half of the world countries were actively engaged in dozens of wars and conflicts of the 20th century. Even after the Soviet collapse many countries, even US allies, prefer to buy Russian arms. It is confirmed by arms trade statistics which put Russia second after the United States, the Army Standard writes.

T-90 success in the Syrian conflict drew the attention of another Mideast country which is engaged in a war. Since ISIL intrusion, the Iraqi army has received T-90 tanks for several units. They were not engaged in key developments of the Iraqi war, as the tanks were supplied after the main hostilities were over. They were several times used against militants in Neinava province.

Both Russian tanks and light hardware properly performed in various conflicts. Export options of BMP-3 were engaged by the UAE in the operation in Yemen and displayed the best qualities. The Yemeni theater of warfare has long turned into a cemetery of various western armor. Hundreds of armor units of Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Arabs countries have been destroyed. BMP-3 survived. Only one case of its destruction was reported. On August 8, 2015, it exploded on a mine in Aden province.

Combat engagement of Russian fighter and assault jets, airlifters and helicopters was also noticed in several regions. Su-30 is mostly operated abroad. India is armed with several hundred of them. Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, Venezuela also acquired the aircraft.

So far, there are no reports on Su-30 participation in real combat, but they continue to ensure air security of a number of countries. On July 25, 2019, Venezuela engaged Su-30 to defend the national airspace. The jets maneuvered and compelled US ER-3 Aries reconnaissance aircraft to leave Venezuelan airspace. India also engaged Su-30 in a clash with Pakistan on February 27, 2019, but they did not participate in combat.

The situation is different with helicopters. At least 15 Mi-28N were supplied to Iraq. They were engaged during the whole campaign against ISIL (outlawed in Russia). The situation is similar with Mi-35 helicopter gunships. They contribute a lot to the fight against terrorists.

One of the most exotic new Russian weapons is the heavy TOS-1A flamethrower. Its combat record began in Syria in 2015. The Syrian army used it in fighting for Palmyra, in Latakia, Idlib and Deraa. At least one flamethrower was engaged to unblock Deir ez-Zor in the autumn of 2017. It advanced up to the Euphrates and drove 150 km in the desert.

Iraq acquired TOS-1A in the most critical moment of 2014 summer fighting when ISIL approached Baghdad. Saudi Arabia displayed interest in TOS-1A. So far, it is unclear how many flamethrowers it purchased. Photos in the Internet show at least two Saudi TOS-1As on the way to Yemen. So far, they were not engaged in the country.

The Middle East remains the main test range for Russian hardware. The Russian military operation in Syria advertised the hardware in the Middle East.

High survivability, relatively cheap price and simple operation in a hot climate made several countries which used to prefer US suppliers to buy Russian analogues. For Iraq it was a total necessity. For Saudi Arabia it is a conscientious choice which fully justified itself. These countries have deep relations with the Americans and can afford western arms.

Other regional countries also display interest in Russian hardware. Egypt acquired a major batch of Kamov Ka-52 helicopters. Algeria is a major operator of Russian arms which can in future enter two major regional markets of Turkey and Iran.

After S-400 air defense missiles was supplied to Turkey, local experts said Pantsir-S1 or other weapons will be necessary to protect them. In case of Iran, UN sanctions impede a normal economic and military-industrial cooperation of our countries, the Army Standard said.

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