Ukraine has developed an indigenous anti-ship missile as part of efforts to bolster its coastal defense. The RK-360MC Neptune is a subsonic, truck-mounted system designed to defeat vessels displacing up to 5,000 tons. Each truck carries up to four missiles. The R-360 missile has a maximum range of 190 miles (300 km) and can be fired as far as 16 miles (25 km) from the coast. Ship- and air-launched variants have also been considered. It can also be used against ground targets, such as bridges and radars.
Development of the Neptune (left) began in 2013 but was delayed by Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, which forced Ukraine to develop domestic sources for some components. The first test-flight took place in 2018. Trials of an improved model began in 2019 and it was formally adopted for service in August 2020. Ukraine plans to acquire three RK-360MC divisions, each with six launchers, to protect its Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts. The first units are expected to be formed in 2021.
China has begun to field a new class of destroyers based on its Luyang III (Type 052D) design. The Zibo class (Type 052DL) uses a lengthened variant of the Type 052D hull, with a larger helicopter deck and bigger radar arrays. The larger helicopter deck enables the class to operate the new Z-20 naval helicopter. Two Z-20, Z-9 or Ka-28 helicopters can be accommodated. Armament is otherwise very similar to its predecessor, including a 130-mm main gun and 64 vertical launch cells.
A major change from the Luyang III class is the large, meter-wave radar mounted on the aft mast in place of the Type 517 Knife Rest air search radar. An enhanced variant of the Type 346 Dragon Eye active phased-array radar is also equipped. The lead ship in the Zibo class (at right) started construction in 2016 and was commissioned in January 2020. A second destroyer was commissioned in August. Three more ships in the class are undergoing trials and another three are under construction.
Czech special operations forces are in line for a new domestically developed light tactical vehicle. The Perun 4 x 4 is intended for reconnaissance, rapid assault, fire support and convoy protection missions. It has a top speed of 68 mph (110 kph) and a range of 435 miles (700 km). It can be armed with a 7.62-mm or 12.7-mm machine gun or automatic grenade launcher on a top-mounted turret ring. There are also mounts within the vehicle for 7.62-mm machine guns. Various communication and jamming systems can be integrated as an option.
The vehicle can accommodate up to six personnel, including the commander and driver. A 6 x 6 variant has also been developed. Development of the Perun (at left) began in 2015. Prague placed an initial order for four vehicles in 2017. These were delivered in 2018. Testing was postponed in late 2018 after a dispute arose between the manufacturer, SVOS, and the Czech government over weight increases that the company attributed to changes requested by the defense ministry.
New Cannon for Stryker Armored Vehicles
Other new records include the U.S. 30-mm XM813 cannon, which is being fitted to the Army's up-gunned Stryker wheeled armored vehicles; the Philippine Tubbataha-class patrol craft; and the Chinese Z-11 light utility helicopter.
Naval updates this month include the French Sea Fire fire-control and surveillance radar being developed for the planned Admiral Ronarc'h-class frigates; the Chinese Luyang III-class destroyers; and Argentina's Almirante Brown-class destroyers.
The latest information from the aviation front is available for the Chinese AR-1 drone-launched missile; the U.S. P-3 AEW early warning aircraft in service with Customs and Border Patrol; the U.S. DB-110 reconnaissance pod, which is employed by F-16 fighter fleets around the world; and the U.S. 30-mm GAU-13 Gatling gun.
Updated ground weapons include the Polish Inspector uncrewed ground vehicle; the Iranian Raad-2 self-propelled howitzer and 320-mm Oghab multiple rocket launcher; and the Serbian 128-mm M63 Plamen multiple rocket launcher.
Battle with Boko Haram Goes On
The order of battle for Nigeria has been made current, with most of its military activity focused on the fight against the Islamist Boko Haram militant group and other internal threats.
Pentagon Seeks New Course For Navy
With a changing strategic environment and issues with the Navy's shipbuilding program, the Pentagon has developed a new plan to develop a fleet for the future. Defense Secretary Mark Esper unveiled the proposal in early October. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd digs into the strategy in "The Navy Changes Tack."
China has been seeking foreign expertise after years of struggling to develop its aeroengine industry. For the last few years, it has been trying to acquire Ukraine's Motor Sich to fill this gap in its domestic capabilities. Reuben Johnson has the story in "The Battle for Motor Sich."
Paraguay has been battling an insurgency in its northern provinces for more than a decade. The Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) claims to fight for the impoverished people in the region against wealthy landowners and the government. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey looks at the development of the group in "Insurgency In Paraguay."
Another Putin opponent has been poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent. Andy Oppenheimer looks into the latest attack and the effects of Novichok in "Putin's Favorite Poison."
Finally, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar technology has become a must for current and future fighter jets. Reuben Johnson reviews the state of the market in "Rise of the AESA."