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Every war brings with it two important aspects: the testing of new weapons and the sale of arms.

While the first concerns the technological aspects of new generations of weapons, the latter is only about the business. Sometimes the two issues overlap: an armament is sold, perhaps it is even quite advanced, to then see how it works on the battlefield. On the other hand, arms producing countries distribute defense funds which, of course, are then transformed into arms purchased from the financing country. But it also happens that armaments are given away to make proxy people, armies, militias or states fight in your stead or at your side. In any case, it is never about altruism. It is not money handed out for free. The interest of those who bestow and the need of those who receive always prevails. Weapons given to other nations generally feed what are called "proxy wars". They are linked to geo-strategic assessments, hegemonic intentions, sometimes even to issues of survival.

This is why the Middle East is today the most flourishing market for those selling arms and the most appropriate laboratory for the testing of new armaments. All that is relevant to the trade or the trafficking of arms has occurred and takes place in that region.

Saudi Arabia has recently signed a contract worth over 100 billion dollars with the United States, Qatar has commissioned helicopters for its armed forces worth over 3 billion dollars. A business that feeds on declared or threatened wars and that enriches the arms supplying countries.

But when a new generation armament is sold it is important, especially for the seller, to ascertain its effectiveness on the battlefield.


Russia, for example, has provided Syria with a new mobile air defense system, the S-300. It is a missile system that is of great concern to the Israeli air force when it carries out its raids against Damascus. This supply was initially blocked by a tacit bilateral agreement between Russia and Israel. The downing of a Russian aircraft carrying military personnel to an airport near Latakia in September 2018 blew up the agreement.
The S-300 defense system has undergone several changes over the years and, in order to prevent the most important technologies from being discovered abroad, every improvement has been conceived under to versions: one for export and one for domestic use. In the Syrian case, it is probable that the latest version (obviously the one for export) was put into service in 2014 with a range of 300 km. In practice, it could hit an Israeli plane in both Lebanon and the Syrian border.




These missile systems will be supplied by Russia to Turkey in 2019 and represent a supply with purely political characteristics, as it puts Ankara's membership in NATO into question.

It is a mobile air defense missile system, more sophisticated than the S-300. However, its supply collided with that of the F-35 fighter planes of American manufacture. Turkey participated and financed the Stealth version of jet, already tested by the Israelis on the Syrian theater.

There are two problems: the logistics of the Russian weapons system does not integrate with the other NATO armaments supply. Not only that – and this is the most relevant issue – it should be reset and inserted into the allied radar system. This last aspect creates a vulnerability in favor of the Russians, who are already testing a new series of missiles, the S-500s, that can reach a target over 500 km away.

Bomb competition

The Americans had first bragged about and then used, in Afghanistan in April 2017, a large bomb weighing about 10,000 tons that had devastating effects. Technically called "MOAB" ("Massive Ordinance Air Blast"), its acronym was then changed to "Mother Of All Bombs". In practice, it is the most powerful non-nuclear device now in circulation.

The Iranians wanted to follow the US and the Pasdaran air forces have also developed a similar bomb that can be flown over the targets by the Russian Ilyushin planes. In this case, rather than the military aspect, propaganda prevailed as it was dubbed "Father of All Bombs".

But there is also a strategic reason: the MOAB is bunker-buster and this means that Iran's underground nuclear facilities could be destroyed. So the Iranian message is very simple: if someone uses the bomb on our territory, keep in mind that we can do the same elsewhere.

Missile competition

Recently the Israeli government has commissioned its military industry to supply a stock of new missiles capable of striking within a 30/300 km radius. The supply can act as a deterrent to Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria. The Israelis have greater problems developing ballistic systems capable of striking at greater distances and, in this case, capable of affecting nuclear structures Iranian.

On the other hand, Iran is also gearing up to counter Israel. It has supplied medium-range missiles to Iraq, which can potentially hit Israel and Saudi Arabia, missiles with a range of around 300 km, and continues to deliver tactical missiles to Hezbollah.

As for as ballistic missiles, Tehran has also developed a missile, the Shahab 3, a modified version of the North Korean Nodong missile, that has a range of over 1000 km.

The message is clear: we can strike you, every attack will see retaliation.



The drone war

The Americans use drones to control the Syrian theater, the Russians have blocked the GPS system of unmanned aircrafts thus preventing them from operating.

The circumstance highlighted a vulnerability that has set in motion, on the American side, an improvement in remote control systems. This is because any interference in the control and communication system of drones can make them fall or break down.

But the sky in the Middle East is full of drones: there are the American ones, the Russian ones, the Chinese ones (supplied to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iraq) and also those produced directly by Turkey, Israel and Iran.

The latter has developed a new drone, the "Saeqeh", which can hit up to 4 targets with smart bombs. It was built on the basis of the experience gained by capturing an American drone in December 2011, a "RQ 170 Sentinel".

Drones represent a new weapon system that is revolutionizing the battlefield. The drone listens, captures, sees, strikes, kills. It is the instrument of the war of the future.

In the second Gulf War in Iraq, unmanned aircrafts had become the largest source of information on the enemy for for the US. Each Armed Forces used their own and it happened that the aircrafts collided in the sky.

A technological war is underway around the use of drones, which is developed on several fronts: making them invisible, making their performance more efficient, increasing their flight autonomy (all offensive features) and blocking their remote control or transmission of data (defensive activities).

A technological war.

The arms trade

Between 2013 and 2017 arms sales in the Middle East have increased by 103%. One third of all weapons sold each year in the world is for the exclusive benefit / use of Middle Eastern countries. It is a business that sees in the forefront the American military industry, the English one and the European consortia and, on the opposite front, China and Russia.

The United States provides the world with 34% of the weapons sold. Russia "only" 22%. The turnover is around 400 billion dollars annually.

But any sale of weapons implies a dependency from suppliers. It is in fact a loss of sovereignty because the country that receives arms must be trained to use them, depends on the specific logistics of the counterpart and, by doing so, exposes its own security system.

In the Middle East each country is in some form conditioned by this type of relationship with external powers.

When an Israeli F16 was shot down in Syria in February 2018, an acceleration of those projects to defend fighters during flight missions was immediately triggered. The solution studied by the Israelis was to connect, or rather to tie with a wire, an apparatus - called Ell-8270 - equipped with a transponder and to attract any missiles thrown at the aircraft.

But the Israelis are already testing the Stealth version of the American F-22 fighter in Syria while, not coincidentally, on the other side Russia has deployed its own Stealth aircraft, the SU-57.

The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system has also carried out updates and improvements after various attempts by Hezbollah from Lebanon and Hamas from Gaza to strike Israeli territory. The system was also extended to the defense of naval objectives, integrating the radar system of the various armed forces. A need that has become urgent for the protection of offshore oil and gas facilities. But if the Iron Dome operates against short-range missiles, the "Slingshot of David" deals with the threat of medium-range missiles while the Arrow 3 against ballistic threats that travel in the stratosphere. Here, too, experience and innovations go hand in hand.

In practice, every evolution or experience on the battlefield is immediately followed by an improvement in weapon systems or security systems. The only limit to employing an increasingly sophisticated weapon system is the danger that the enemy may appropriate the specific technology.

The paradox of a war is that, if on one hand it produces victims and suffering, on the other it increases the development of a technology that, many times, apart from the specific military uses, also has positive effects in the civilized world and in the progress of humanity.

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