After the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Armenian authorities started hinting and in some cases openly stating that issues have emerged in the process of acquiring weapons from the country’s strategic ally, Russia, particularly noting that Moscow is not supplying the weapons ordered by Armenia.
This was followed by discussions and news stories about Armenia’s intentions and steps to acquire weapons from India.
The authorities of Armenia not only did not deny, but also indirectly confirmed the rumors.
What the press says
The main source of information about weapons purchased from India is the Indian press, where Armenia’s interest in purchasing Indian weapons was discussed even in the summer of last year. The main weapon under discussion during this time was the Indian drones.
The Economic Times wrote at the end of September of last year that Armenia and India signed a number of agreements on the supply of weapons. According to the article, the total value of the contracts is about USD 245 million: four Pinaka MLRSs and defense equipment. According to Indian media, the order also includes guided missiles.
In October, Indian newspaper The Print wrote that Armenia is also interested in Akash missile systems.
At the beginning of March, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi. They had also met in the fall of 2021.
Parallel to the active diplomatic relations, official Yerevan does not deny the news circulating in the press about military cooperation.
In September last year, when the first data on the acquisition of Indian weapons were published, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that he did not want to publicly discuss the topic of weapons and military equipment, but “the reports in the Indian press were not denied by the Republic of Armenia”.
Armenia and India signed the first military cooperation agreement back in 2003.
Indian military production
As a country with the second largest population in the world, India has a large army of about 1.5 million soldiers. Also, the country’s volunteer forces are the largest in the world – about 5 million.
India’s military budget makes up more than USD 70 billion or about 2.5-3 percent of the country’s GDP.
India exports about twelve percent of the world’s weapons, while importing about half of the weapons intended for its own use.
The Indian rocket launcher system is mounted on the Tatra Colossus truck and consists of six stations, six reloading vehicles and a command vehicle, fire suppression system and radar.
Pinaka MRLS can fire 12 missiles in 44 seconds, the range of the missile is 60 kilometers, the barrel caliber is 214 mm. The design of “Pinaka” began in 1981, and it was adopted by the Indian Armed Forces in 1999.
Pinaka MRLS consists of six stations. It has its own fire-control system and can operate independently.
Pinaka has two models. The second model is the Indian model of the famous Russian “Smerch” system and has few differences from “Smerch”.
According to the press, Armenia may become the first country to acquire Indian Akash surface-to-air missile systems. The systems are intended for small and medium distances of 3.5 to 20 kilometers.
The Ministry of Defense of India and partner companies started working on the creation of the system back in the 1980s, and it has been in service since 2009.
The Akash system includes a fire-control panel, a Rajendra multi-purpose radar station, mobile launchers with three surface-to-air guided missiles each, as well as communication and maintenance vehicles.
The Indian Defense Research Wing (IDRW) had reported earlier this year that Armenia has also shown interest in Israeli-Indian MR-SAM surface-to-air missiles.
The complex uses Barak 8 missiles and has a fire range of up to 75 kilometers.
According to the newspaper, although the systems were designed in India and the country is not dependent on Israel for the use and sale of arms, India will need to inform Israel about possible exports.
According to Indian media, Armenia also wants to acquire the TAPAS-BH-201 (Rustom-ll) combat drone. Rustom-ll is a medium-altitude long-endurance drone that was first displayed in 2019.
The Rustom-ll uses Russian-made NPO Saturn 36MT turbo engines, 100 hp each. The maximum speed of the drone is 265 km/h and it can fly for 16-24 hours without recharging. The drones can carry up to 350 kg of ammunition.