On July 22, Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan announced that “Arms and ammunition provided for 200 million USD is modern, up-to-date, and cannot be found even in the Russian armaments.” However, a considerable part of the weapons and ammunition to be obtained by the agreement was quite old (technologies of the 80s, 70s, and even the 60s).
In particular, the Annex to the Agreement on Providing of a State Export Loan to the Government of the Republic of Armenia signed between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Armenia in 2015 lists the types of armaments to be supplied within the framework of the agreement (total $ 200 million).
Remains from warehouses?
Thus, the newest weapons procured are “Solntsepyok” and “Smerch” heavy flamethrower systems. The former is a 2001 modification of the 1987 “Buratino” system. Regarding the latter, though it was also produced in 1987, it is sold to Armenia with 2004 modification 9M531 cluster munitions (which have a 90 km range).
Moreover, while the “Solntsepyoks” sold to Azerbaijan are brand new and have a higher level of mobility in mountainous conditions (as they are on the T-90 tank base), the systems sold to us are on the base of the old T-72 tanks (according to a published document) with all the relevant implications.
The “Igla-S” man-portable surface-to-air missile system and the “Avtobaza-M” passive radar station sold to the Armenian side are also from nearly the same period (early 2000s).
The other weapons are much older. For instance, the “Konkurs” anti-tank missiles have been exploited since 1974, and the RPG-26 grenade launchers have not been modified since 1985. The В-84 tank and UTD-20 engines of IFVs are even older. The former is a 1966, and the latter is a 1984 model.
The list of sold weapons did not include state-of-the-art weapons such as “Pantsir-S” or S-300-PMU2 “Favorit” air defense systems, Khrizantema” and “Kornet” anti-tank missiles, “Msta-S” and “Vena” self-propelled artillery systems, or MI 17 and MI 35 helicopters. It should be noted that the aforementioned weapons have been sold to Azerbaijan in the recent years.
And what about the tanks?
It is worth mentioning that there are no armored vehicles in the list attached to the document. No tanks, no IFVs, and no armored personnel carriers. The only unit close to being an armored vehicle is “Tigr” armored SUVs.
For comparison, Russia has supplied Azerbaijan with 150 tanks, 94 of which are T90s with 1000 horsepower engine envisaged for mountainous conditions, as well as hundreds of newest BTR 80 armored personnel carriers and BMP 3 IFVs.
It is noteworthy that the anti-tank missiles sold to Azerbaijan are also much more modern. Thus, the latter purchased 1998 “Kornet” anti-tank missiles and 2005 “Khrizantema-S” anti-tank self-propelled systems which are incomparably more modern than the “Konkurs” systems sold to Armenia.
It is difficult to say why armored vehicles have not been sold to Armenia by the agreement, but it should be noted that 70-80 T90 type tanks can be purchased with 200 million USD.
Air to Azerbaijan
No air systems will be sold to Armenia under the loan agreement, neither helicopters nor airplanes. The point is that Russia sold “Igla-S” type air defense missiles to Azerbaijan already 5 years ago, and their number exceeds 1000. During the same period, 2 divisions of S300PMU2 “Favorit” missile systems which were produced in 2009 were purchased by Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan’s air defense became so strong that in the event of a possible war, the use of air forces by Armenia will be almost impossible. Not only the frontline, but also the vast majority of Armenia’s airspace has become vulnerable.
It should be noted that the S-300PS systems sold to Armenia in 2010 were produced in 1982 and are considerably older than those sold to Azerbaijan. Thus, for instance, S-300PMU2 “Favorit” has twice more range compared to S-300PS, it can accompany 6 times more targets at the same time and hit aircraft flying at 2.5 higher speed.