Baku, Azerbaijan, July 11
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva – Trend:
The protracted Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has pushed Azerbaijan towards significantly improving its defense industry, said an article published by Defence Industry Bulletin, one of the most authoritative global publications providing the latest information in the field of commercial security and defense.
Efforts have been made to not only outfit an increasingly powerful national armed force - rated 59th against Armenia’s 95th in the global firepower ranking - but also to export arms and equipment in greater number, Azer Mammadov, senior advisor to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry chief Yaver Jamalov, said in an interview with the Defence Industry Bulletin.
Customers include not just the US and Russia, but also neighboring Georgia, Iraq and at least eight other states, he noted.
While much of Azerbaijan’s military development must be attributed to numerous joint ventures - foremost with Israel, Turkey and South-Africa, Mammadov pointed out that 31 production sites are currently working throughout Azerbaijan as subordinating entities, adding that together they are making 1,100 articles of defense products.
“Azerbaijani-made weaponry meets the standards of NATO,” he said, adding that the country’s Ministry of Defense Industry is working on producing a long-range missile system and an electromagnetic weapon capable of destroying enemy military equipment by 2020.
The representatives of the Defence Industry Bulletin were shown the full variety of ammunition for small arms, mortars and artillery, as well as air-launched bombs, of which some are exported to Turkey, Georgia and Iraq, the article said. In 2016, Baghdad requested 500 RPG-7V2 grenade launchers, 500 60mm mortars and the relevant ammunition, according to the article.
In the US and Russia, Azerbaijani optical instruments and sights have became increasingly popular, the author wrote. In total, ten nations were mentioned as customers of Azerbaijani arms and equipment, said the article.
“At one point the ministry has even been forced to refuse orders of some countries, since we were not able to fulfill the size of the order within the short, requested timeframe...,” Mammadov said.
Azerbaijan’s obvious obsession with long-range sniper- and heavy anti-materiel rifles was explained as “the logics of 23 years of anachronistic WWI-style trench-warfare along the so-called contact line around Karabakh and the seven Armenian occupied districts,” according to the article.
While most other armies would call 12.7mm or .50 BMG rifles the limit to man portable small arms, the latest product in service with the Azerbaijani Army - and offered for export - is the 14.5mm 'Istiglal-T' (aka NST) rifle, the article noted.
As far as the author is aware, exports have gone to Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan.
The representatives of the Defence Industry Bulletin were invited to try out the latest Zafar-P ('P' for Polymer) 9x19mm pistol, one of three models manufactured by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry under license from Turkish THSAET Zigana designs.
“In 2010, a license was given by Russia's Kalashnikov/ Izhevsk to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry for production of 120,000 AK-74M assault rifles,” the article noted. “While demonstrating a 2017 model, Mammadov explained that current production will run until 2021.”
Mammadov also highlighted the first fully domestically produced vehicle - the Tufan, said the article.
“This 4x4 MRAP vehicle was designed by the National Aerospace Agency and will be assembled at the AGREGAT factory near Baku,” reads the article. “It features a STANAG 3/3A level of armor, weighing 14.7 tons with a payload of 2.3 tons. A 360 hp turbocharged diesel enables a maximum road speed of 85 km/h. Tufan is completed by a stabilized RWS with a 12.7mm NVS machine-gun, 10 smoke-grenade launchers, etc.”
Mammadov said that Tufan will be produced from 2018 in variations of medical evacuation, air-defense/ anti-armor, anti-riot and basic APC, and will then also be available for export.
“Although described as a WWI-style 'trench-war', daily incidents of conflict over recent years have heavily involved various UAV activities from both sides,” said the article. “For Baku, this means acquisitions and joint-developments from and with Israel. While the Azerbaijani Forces are using Herons and local manufacturer AZAD is producing Aeronautic’s Aerostar, it was the so-called 'killer drones' that had Mammadov enthused.”
Mammadov also revealed that AZAD’s current work is concentrated on Zarba-1K, the local derivative of Aeronautics’ Orbiter-K. The loitering/suicide-type craft, he said, “has a high-explosive cumulative warhead that’s already been adopted and was handed over to the defense ministry. There also is a launching-vehicle outfitted with a catapult and we expect to complete test work within a few months.”