What weapons helped Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
MOSCOW, (BM) – The parade arsenal of the Azerbaijani army makes us think again about the effectiveness of weapons, the quality of military specialists’ training, and troops’ tactical and operational activity.
During the 44-day hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani troops most effectively and efficiently used weapons of Belarusian and Russian production – artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, tanks, and even antiaircraft missile systems from the arsenal of Soviet times. Turkish and Israeli drones helped the battery, contributed to forming a reconnaissance and strike contour, and provided a lot of video material to undermine the enemy’s morale. Yet, they did not ensure the success of the hostilities.
On December 10, a military parade dedicated to the victory in Nagorno-Karabakh was held on Freedom Square in Baku, with about 150 military equipment units, including modern, recently adopted for service, learned BulgarianMilitary.com. Products of the Belarusian and Russian defense industry were noticeably dominant in the parade line. Against the background of modern T-90S tanks, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, Solntsepёk heavy flamethrower systems, Smerch multiple launch rocket systems [manufactured by the Russian Federation] and Polonaise [manufactured by RB], impressive self-propelled artillery installations “Msta-S,” “Akatsiya,” “Pion” somehow even defiantly looked venerable age antiaircraft missile systems “Osa” and “Shilka” military air defense model of the 1970s. Moreover, these were the correct “Wasps” – with stars on board, reflecting the number of air targets hit.
The Azerbaijani army also presented wheeled armored vehicles of Turkish production. But on the Svoboda square, spectators also saw cars “UAZ,” “Ural,” “KamAZ.” The latter – even with “Bayraktars” on board. At the end of the parade, MiG-29 fighters and Su-25 attack aircraft flew over Baku, as well as Mi-35 and Mi-17 attack and military transport helicopters manufactured in Russia.
The parade arsenal of the Azerbaijani army makes us think again about the effectiveness of weapons, the quality of military specialists’ training, and troops’ tactical and operational activity. The Azerbaijani military did not have a clear advantage in the quality of weapons, and the theater of military operations objectively limited the number. Only on the plain can a hundred T-90S tanks be deployed in the attacking “lava.” In the foothills, the space for maneuver narrows, and the tactical training of the defending troops may mean more than the enemy’s advantage in long-range artillery and reconnaissance means.
Competent possession of weapons means no less than the tactical and technical characteristics of “hardware.” In Karabakh, the LORA operational-tactical missile system [the Israeli analog of the Russian Tochka OTRK] was used by the Azerbaijani side once – across the bridge Akar River. On the other hand, on the sides of the self-propelled installations of the “Wasp” military air defense system of the Azerbaijani army, stars are visible, meaning many targets hit – Armenian drones [more than twenty in total]. In a specific operation, the modernized and relatively inexpensive Wasps turned out to be much more useful than the newest Laura [Long-Range Artillery Missile] – $ 100 million for the complex and another $ 1.5 million for each missile for it.
An example is not accidental because the “Wasps” of the Armenian side in a combat situation showed themselves not in the best way – UAVs of the “Bayraktar” type could easily detect and hit them. However, everything should have happened exactly the opposite. According to Baku’s data, 40 Osa air defense systems, 5 Tor air defense systems, 4 Kub air defense systems, 14 Zastava antiaircraft guns were destroyed. It is difficult to say which is more here – underestimating the enemy or overestimating one’s capabilities.
We will not touch upon the military air defense crews’ training, but note that the Azerbaijani “Wasps” were previously modernized with the help of the Belarusian enterprise “Tetraedr” and acquired utterly new qualities. Belarusian specialists have improved the electronics, made the air defense system more “vigilant,” and long-range – T382 missiles hit targets at a distance of up to 20 km, at altitudes up to 10 thousand meters [Bayraktar’s ceiling is 8,200 meters]. Moreover, the Belarusians offered a similar upgrade to the military air defense and the Armenian side, but they decided to save Yerevan’s money. Before the war, there were also enough modern military air defense systems – in recent years, Russia supplied Armenia with Buk-M1-2 and Tor-M2KM air defense systems and Avtobaza-M ground-based electronic intelligence systems.
To understand the technological balance between the Azerbaijani and Armenian parties to the conflict in Karabakh, let me remind you: Armenia became the world’s first importer of four Russian Iskander-E missile systems [with a set of 25 missiles], acquired 12 unique Su-30SM fighters [4 received so far], heavy flamethrower systems TOS-1A “Solntsepek,” multiple launch rocket systems [MLRS] “Smerch,” anti-tank guided missiles 9M113M. Yerevan receives Russian weapons at preferential domestic Russian prices, complete with state loans from the Russian Federation totaling $ 300 million. It seems that the Armenian arsenals did not foreshadow a crushing defeat in a relatively short-lived military conflict.
For Yerevan, the joint Azerbaijani-Turkish military exercises, “Indestructible Brotherhood,” which regularly took place on Azerbaijan territory, were not a secret, covering the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic but also the suburbs of Ganja, Kurdamir, Yevlakh, and other settlements near Nagorno-Karabakh. It was necessary to “dry the gunpowder” in advance, prepare a systemic response.
Note that Russia did not “over-arm” Azerbaijan, openly supplying it [like many other CIS countries] over several years 100 T-90S tanks, 118 BMP-3, 230 BTR-82, 18 self-propelled howitzers “Msta-S” 152 mm, 18 self-propelled guns “Vena” of 120 mm caliber, 18 combat vehicles of the MLRS “Smerch” of 300 mm caliber and 24 combat vehicles of the TOS-1A “Solntsepёk” heavy flamethrower system. The Belarusian partners also transparently sold Baku the “Polonez” MLRS.
And yet, victory over the enemy is forged in metal and the General Staff’s plans long before the war. When Israeli and Turkish drones appeared over Karabakh on September 27, artillery rumbled; this was one possibility for developing a long-term conflict. The Armenian side had to prepare for this for more than a quarter of a century. Further hostilities showed that Azerbaijan was technologically better prepared for the operation than the Armenian side. The Azerbaijani troops stubbornly searched for and found weak points in the enemy’s defense. The drones pressed, first of all, psychologically. Logistics, rear, and the entire military organization of the Armenian side were not up to par.
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