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04 Mar 14. Latvia and UK sign LOI for Latvian infantry brigade mechanisation project. The Latvian Defense Ministry has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the UK regarding the cooperation on the mechanisation project of the Latvian Land Force’s infantry brigade. Under the protocol, the two countries have committed to conclude a bilateral agreement on the acquisition of second-hand and upgraded combat vehicles at the end of May 2014. Latvia currently intends to purchase 120 combat vehicles reconnaissance (tracked) (CVR(T)) from the UK at a cost of an estimated €70m, of which €1.79m has already been allocated. Approximately €12.27m and €16.29m are expected to be assigned in 2015 and 2016, respectively, for the mechanisation project. The LOI was signed by Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis and UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond during the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Belgium. The evaluation of different options for the mechanisation project, which will be implemented in two stages, commenced in 2012, and consisted of several stages, including working on detailed operational requirements of vehicles and market research. Based on market research, the Latvian Defense Ministry has already started negotiations with the UK Ministry of Defence regarding procurement of their second-hand high-quality military vehicles. Latvia is also planning to purchase armoured personnel carriers (APCs) under the LVL168.44m (€236.9m) project, which is scheduled to continue until 2020. (Source: army-technology.com)

03 Mar 14. Ethiopia’s AMISOM deployment indicates Chinese armour procurement. The Ethiopian National Defence Force’s (ENDF’s) contribution of troops to African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has highlighted the extent to which Chinese products are increasingly dominating its inventory of armoured vehicles. Over 4,000 ENDF troops officially joined AMISOM on 22 January. Three weeks later, Somalia’s Baidoa News released a video showing the Ethiopian troops unloading Chinese Type 85/89 tracked armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and WZ551 (or the newer WMZ551) wheeled APCs from transporters in the town of Beledweyne. Six T-55s tanks were also seen in the video. Both the tracked and wheeled APCs are fitted with a fully enclosed turret mounting a 12.7 x 108 mm heavy machine gun, rather than the semi-enclosed weapon station more often seen on the vehicles. While WZ551s have previously been seen with this turret, this is the first time that it has been seen on a Type 85/89. The ENDF also has Type 85/89 APCs with the semi-enclosed weapon station. These have been seen in a music video for a song by Ethiopian rapper Merkeb Bariagaber, which was made with the ENDF’s assistance. A Chinese 155 mm/52 calibre AH2 howitzer also featured in the music video. These towed guns have an auxiliary power unit (APU) that gives them a limited self-propelled capability. China has not reported any of its Ethiopian exports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The only Chinese arms exports to Ethiopia noted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) are 18 Type WA 021 155mm/45 calibre towed howitzers and 25 Type 63 107mm towed multiple rocket launchers in 1999. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

03 Mar 14. Brazil begins testing LMV armored vehicle. The Brazilian Army’s Evaluation Center (CAEx) has begun trials for the army’s LMV (Light Multirole Vehicle), high-mobility tactical protected 4×4 built by Iveco Defence Vehicles. The tests, at CAEx’s facility in Rio de Janiero, started in late February. The vehicles arrived at CAEx in mid-November 2013 but the army was awaiting definition of the programme’s ‘appreciation and acceptance plan’ and other formalities. An LMV was displayed at the LAAD 2013 defence exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in April 2013 and during the ina

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