After importing rocket launchers and missiles from India, Armenia is now importing an anti-drone system from its South Asian friend. This has come when the conflict-ravaged country is keen to learn from India on how to modernize Soviet-era defense equipment.
Even as a fragile peace holds between the Caucasian countries, New Delhi is contemplating the supply of a fresh batch of military equipment to Armenia.
People who did not wish to be identified said Armenia has contracted to buy India-developed Zen Anti-Drone System (ZADS). The Indian Air Force (IAF) purchased this anti-drone system in 2021, and the Indian Army has ordered 20 units of C-UAS worth INR 2.27 billion (US$27.3 million). Delivery of the C-UAS to the Indian Army will commence in March 2024.
Officials who did not wish to be identified confirmed to the EurAsian Times that Armenia has contracted the Hyderabad-based Zen Technologies for INR340 crore (US$41.5 million) for the anti-drone system order that includes both training solutions and an anti-drone system.
“The Zen Technologies Anti-Drone System is a proven technology, having been inducted in the IAF and now the Indian Army opting for it. And Armenia realizes that once Indian armed forces induct it, it must be good,” the source said.
The anti-drone system from Zen Technologies works on drone detection, classification, and tracking of passive surveillance, camera sensors, and threat neutralization through jamming drone communication.
Zen Anti-Drone System, a Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS), is a multi-layer multi-sensor Architecture that provides comprehensive security against drone attacks.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict heralded the arrival of drones on the modern-day battlefield, with Armenia acknowledging that the Turkish Bayrakter TB-2 had made the difference, forcing them to concede defeat.
The Bayraktar TB2, developed and manufactured by Baykar, a Turkish defense company, is the size of a small airplane and equipped with four laser-guided missiles. It has an endurance of 12 hours when operating 550 nautical miles from its base. This allows it to be ‘eyes in the sky’ for long periods.
Zen Technologies Limited announced that at the board meeting held on October 28, 2023, it approved the establishment of a Branch office in Armenia to tap the business opportunity in that country, including providing sales, support, and service.
Armenia, a small landlocked nation nestled in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, has emerged as a strategic partner for India. In 2022, when India inked the deal to supply PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), anti-tank munitions, and ammunition worth US$250 million to Armenia, it was seen as New Delhi taking a position in the conflict. It was the first export of PINAKA by India.
Armenia opted for Pinaka MBRLs, considered at par with the American HIMARs, for its shoot and scoot capability. The mobility is an advantage as adversary Azerbaijan has been deploying drones, including suicide drones.
While India has not confirmed publicly that it is supplying the Akash SAM system to Armenia, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) did announce it has received export orders from a friendly country.
The weapons purchased by Armenia have proven to be “very satisfactory,” the chairman of Armenia’s parliamentary committee on defense and security affairs, Andranik Kocharyan, recently stated without naming India.
“Our news media, our people are discussing all day long what weapons were brought, from what country, where it was tested. The relevant division of the defense ministry is also testing this weaponry, and the tests are very satisfactory,” said Kocharyan.
“The list of the countries is that which is being discussed, perhaps a bit more or less. That’s not what matters; what matters is that the work in that direction is proceeding successfully.”
Burgeoning India-Armenia Defense Ties
A top Armenian security official and Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, Armen Grigoryan, visited New Delhi on August 28 to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. In light of this, it is said that India is contemplating the supply of a fresh batch of military equipment to Armenia.
In 2022, India stepped up as a defense supplier to Armenia, embroiled in a protracted conflict with Azerbaijan. The first consignment of weapons was delivered last year via Iran.
Armenia, reports the Economic Times, is keen to modernize its military arsenal, primarily of Soviet and Russian origin. The country wants to learn how to upgrade Soviet and Russian equipment in its inventory and integrate it with the Western system.
The dialogue with India is not just about procurement but also about potential joint ventures for local assembly of equipment and training facilities for Armenian officers.
“India possesses several Soviet and Russian-made defense equipment. It has successfully modernized Soviet and Russian-era defense items. This is very impressive,” Colonel Zhiriayar Amirkhanian, assistant to the chief of defense staff, was quoted by the Economic Times. “We in Armenia have several Soviet and Russian-designed equipment, and we want to learn from India’s experience.”
Armenia is apprehensive that Azerbaijan may take advantage of chaos and conflicts in other parts of the globe and launch a fresh military assault against Armenia.
France has also announced to send military aid to Armenia, the beleaguered country seeking to diversify its arms imports and find new allies after Russia failed to provide the nation with ordered weapons worth around US $400 million (it has not yet returned the money).
- Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology. Article Republished
- She can be reached at ritu.sharma (at) mail.com
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