As Rosvertol General Director Boris Slyusar announced the firm’s 2010 trading figures, he revealed that a fall 2010 deal had been signed with Azerbaijan for 24 Mi-35 attack helicopters. That would more than double the current fleet of 12-13 Mi-24s at Baku Kala air base, and make “Hind family” helicopters the backbone of Azerbailjan’s rotary-wing force. Newer Russian attack helicopters like the Mi-28 “Night Hunter” and Ka-52 “Alligator” get a lot of attention, but the Mi-24 “Hind/Krokodil” family of heavy helicopter gunships remains broadly popular around the world, with a secondary troop transport capability that’s unique in the market. News.Az.
Azerbaijan is located on the Caspian Sea, south of Russia, north of Iran, and east of Armenia. A highly-charged territorial dispute with Armenia remains a source of tension, as does protection of the country’s significant oil & natural gas infrastructure, and the possibility of meddling from its larger neighbors north and south. The country is busy building a defense industry of its own, and has pursued close cooperation and joint ventures with a number of foreign countries including Israel, Pakistan, Russia/Ukraine, and Turkey. Beyond its helicopter forces, recent cooperation discussions have involved 9mm Czech Skorpion EVO-III submarchine guns, Russian GAZ 2975 Tigr HMMWV class vehicles, and Pakistani designs for air-dropped bombs.
The German Bundeswehr’s 21st century IdZ (Infanterist der Zukunft, or “Infantryman Of The Future”) project, is part of a wider global trend in advanced militaries: fully integrated sets of weapons, computing, and sighting systems for the individual soldier. As an added challenge, these systems also have to tie into the elaborate battle management systems those countries are fielding, for use by vehicles and higher levels of command.
So, what is IdZ – Enhanced System (IdZ-ES), beyond “a comprehensive equipment concept for the individual soldier”? And how is it progressing?
A number of countries are currently developing “future soldier” kits that attempt to give soldiers the same kind of advanced technologies now going into vehicles, aircraft, etc., including wearable computers, helmet displays, video streaming of night weapon sights, and more. The trade-offs lie in weight, complexity, power overhead, maintenance burden, and cost.
As currently conceived, the wisdom and long-term effectiveness of many of these programs is a matter of debate that will only be resolved by performance in combat situations. The IMESS effort may have an unfortunate acronym in English, but it sits firmly in the mainstream of these programs. The Swiss project’s vendors are also mainstream…