Identification and analysis of small arms ammunition in Libya


The Small Arms Survey has recently released my latest long form report, examining the variety of Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) observed in Libya during and immediately after the recent conflict. This is the first in a series of baseline assessments of arms and ammunition holdings in Africa and the Middle East that I intend to author. The next report in the series will focus on SAA identified in Syria.

An extract from the press release:

The assessment is based on photos of cartridge headstamps, cartridges, and ammunition packaging, as well as shipping documents pertaining to small arms ammunition transfers. Most of these records are from Tripoli and were gathered during the first five months of 2012, with additional photos from Ajdabiya, Benghazi, and Misrata. This baseline will serve as a valuable tool for governments, NGOs, and other actors involved in understanding and stemming the illicit flow of small arms ammunition in the region … The Headstamp Trail forms part of the Small Arms Survey’s Security Assessment in North Africa, a multi-year project to support those engaged in building a more secure environment in North Africa and the Sahel-Sahara region.

The report can be downloaded and viewed here.

Image copyright: Damien Spleeters

AK-103 and F2000 assault rifles in Gaza

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer.

On October 2nd the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (حركة الجهاد الإسلامي في فلسطين‎), the al-Quds Brigades, took to the streets of Fatah in Southern Gaza to mark the 17th anniversary of the assassination of Fathi al-Shaqaqi. Shaqaqi was assassinated in Malta by the Mossad in 1995. Each year, the al-Quds Brigades take to the streets for a military parade to mark the event, brandishing a variety of arms and carrying all manner of banners and flags. This year’s parade, however, was a little different, and held some interesting items for those of us following the spread of various small arms. Amongst the usual assortment of Russian AKMs & Eastern Bloc copies, Chinese Type 56 variants, PKMs, and RPG-7 variants and copies were two far less common weapons: the F2000 and AK-103 assault rifles.

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In Brief: The Netherlands’ De Zeven Provinciën class frigates

N.R. Jenzen-Jones

HNLMS Evertsen on patrol off the Horn of Africa, as part of  NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield.

HNLMS Evertsen is one of four De Zeven Provinciën class air defence and command frigates in service with the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine). Evertsen is the youngest of the four, having been completed in 2003 and commissioned in 2005. These ships superseded the two smaller Tromp class frigates, decommissioned in 1999 and 2001. Despite being classified by the Netherlands Navy as frigates, their displacement (6,050 tonnes), complement (202 + 30 aircrew), and role make them comparable to many destroyers. They are similar in these respects to the RAN’s planned Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD).  The Netherlands Navy also intends to use the De Zeven Provinciën class in a limited Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) role, having recently awarded a contract for modification of the ships’ Thales SMART-L and APAR radars. According to an article in January’s Proceedings magazine, these modifications are expected to be complete by late 2017. It should be noted that the currently planned modifications only endow the class with the capability to detect and track ballistic missile threats, and do not provide for surface-to-air interceptor missiles.

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In Brief: Singapore’s Formidable class frigates

N.R. Jenzen-Jones
The Republic of Singapore frigate RSS Formidable (68) during a formation exercise for RIMPAC 2012.

Singapore’s Formidable class frigates are considered amongst the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia. Built around a substantially modified version of the French La Fayette class, they feature an advanced stealth design incorporating a range of Radar Cross-Section (RCS) reduction features. The inclined planes of the hull and superstructures, concealment of typical ship’s equipment, low profile housings for armaments, and enclosed sensor mast are chief amongst these. The Formidable class armament includes: an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun, 8x RGM-84C Harpoon SSMs, and 4x 8-cell Sylver A50 VLS containing a mixture of Aster 15 and Aster 30 SAMs. The ships are also capable of firing EuroTorp A224/S Mod 3 torpedoes, and carry a Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter with ASW equipment (they formerly operated Eurocopter AS-332M Super Pumas).

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240mm Heavy Mortars in Syria – a closer examination

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

This post originally appeared at The Rogue Adventurer.

Identifying weapons systems can sometimes be a tricky business. Often, practitioners are forced to make educated guesses, or give ‘best estimates’ to stakeholders. Nonetheless, it is important that any such assessments are characterised accurately any time they are repeated, and the requisite caveats included. One recent incident highlights this pertinently.

Some video footage from conflict in Syria featured remnants of massive 240mm mortar rounds – the largest calibre mortar currently in active service. These are fired from two weapons in active service, both of Soviet/Russian origin: the M-240 heavy mortar, and the 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled heavy mortar (a mechanised mortar carrier). Bjørn Holst Jespersen appears to have been among the first to have identified the tail end of what is likely an 53-F-864 240mm HE round, publishing a brief piece on the find on his blog on the 16th of February. The source of the original video screen captures can be found here.

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Why has Security Scholar been so quiet lately?

You may well ask. Well, fear not, Nat and I are both very much alive.

As a few of you probably know by now, I’m in the process of undertaking a pretty big research project. I’m attempting to compile a ‘complete-as-possible’ database of small arms used in the recent Libyan conflict. To do this, I’ve been collecting OSINT photos and video stills from a number of media outlets, social networking sites, and so on. I’m also working with some NGOs and PSCs on the ground in Libya, as well as having developed a few local sources of my own.

I have a post up at my personal, more informal blog, The Rogue Adventurer.

I would love any input from readers, particularly detailed photos of weapon receivers (serial numbers, factory marks etc.) or weapon crates, or just photos of unusual small arms that have cropped up. I’m also keeping an eye out for different types of optics that have turned up, for a smaller side project.


Nat’s been pretty active as well. As many of you know she is travelling throughout Indonesia, conducting research on a few different topics and also brushing up her Indonesian language skills. You can follow her most recent adventures on her new blog, Notes From The Field.

Her last few posts have explored the fascinating Balinese ceremonial traditions, showcasing everything from blessings given to firearms to cremations!

As you can see, both of us are still working away. Nat continues to bring us fascinating updates from the field, and I’m up to my eyeballs in picture of unusual firearms that have cropped up in Libya. Business at Security Scholar is just as it has always been – unpredictable, unusual, and fascinating.

In the meantime, don’t forget you can keep track of us on Facebook as well! 

Update: KRISS SYSTEMS (K10, KARD, Sphinx SDP Compact)

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

Some of the information in this update was provided by a KRISS SYSTEMS spokesperson, in response to my queries.

The KRISS K10, discussed briefly in my earlier piece here, represents the evolution of the KRISS Vector SMG. The K10 will be designed as a multi-calibre platform, supporting .45 ACP, 9x19mm NATO and .40 S&W. These three calibres are the most popular handgun cartridges in Western military and law enforcement use. The lower receivers will be interchangeable, allowing operators to easily switch between calibres, should they desire. The new submachine gun will also feature a quad-Picatinny rail fore end, giving the firearm a lot more flexibility for mounting aftermarket accessories.

The K10 will, of course, be based around the KRISS Super V System (KSVS), making use of in-line design and asymmetrical recoil (the ‘vectored bolt’ technology) to greatly reduce felt recoil and muzzle climb. The K10 also features a much larger charging handle (that can be reconfigured to suit left or right handed shooters), a telescoping, five-position stock (unlike the Vector’s folding stock), an ambidextrous magazine release on the fore grip, and a muzzle designed to accept KRISS DEFIANCE series suppressors. A proprietary magazine is also being developed, and this will reportedly be interoperable with another KRISS weapon under development, the KARD. Limited information on the KARD can be found here, and here. I have been informed that the KARD is an ongoing project, and that no date has been set for its release as yet.

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