Equipping Armenia to Defend Itself
By Gor Mkrtchian
The Armenian Weekly
It’s been over a year and a half since Pashinyan dragged Armenia into catastrophe in the 44-day war. Azerbaijani soldiers continue to occupy parts of Armenia and Artsakh and attack their people. Yet, the Pashinyan regime shows little signs of having learned from its egregious mistakes and rebuilding the Armenian military accordingly.
In this article, I’ll outline some arms acquisitions that should be heavily considered for defending against Azerbaijan. If Russian peacekeepers leave the borders of Armenia and Artsakh, it will be up to us to prevent another Armenian Genocide.
The survival of a nation cannot be left to the mercy of a single allied government. Our resounding victory is completely attainable, but we have urgent, hard work to do.
When Azerbaijan started the 44-day war, the Armenian military was equipped with a small number of high-quality Russian Tor-M2KM anti-aircraft systems. These systems registered outstanding successes throughout the course of the war.
According to Captain Sergey Mkrtchyan, who operated a Tor during the war, a single Armenian Tor division “in the course of 44 days destroyed 87 aircraft, including three planes, two helicopters, four Bayraktar-type unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as other aircraft.”
The survival of a nation cannot be left to the mercy of a single allied government.
Former President Serzh Sargsyan revealed in a post-war interview that Armenia was supposed to receive three batches of the Tor system, but instead received only one, because the Pashinyan administration decided not to carry out the Sargysan administration’s arms acquisition program.
How many young men died and how much of our homeland was lost needlessly because of this decision? These are the poison fruits of the 2018 western-supported regime change.
It’s urgent that the Pashinyan regime be replaced by one that has the desire and skillset to defend the Armenian people. And when such leadership comes into place, the acquisition of additional units of the Tor system should be seriously examined based on their effectiveness in the 44-day war.
The Pantsir medium-range anti-aircraft system should also be strongly considered. In both Libya and Syria, the Pantsir has reportedly scored repeated successes shooting down Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drones, which were used against Artsakh in 2020.
According to the site “Lost Armour,” which claims to catalog destroyed military vehicles based on video and photo evidence, Turkey lost at least 19 TB-2 drones and a number of other drones in Libya. Furthermore, Turkey lost four TB-2 drones, two Anka-S drones and other aircraft in Syria.
Don’t fear the drone boogeyman. Toil and drudge to replace the capitulation regime in Armenia with one that actually fights for Armenia, and it will rain scrap metal, God willing.
Ironically, Armenia’s greatest weapon against Azerbaijan’s drones may not be an anti-aircraft weapon at all. As I noted in a prior article, when the war began, Armenia already possessed four types of ground-to-ground missiles and rockets that have the range to reach Azerbaijani airfields and destroy military aircraft on the ground: Smerch, Scud, Tochka and Iskander.
Why didn’t Pashinyan exercise this option during the 44-day war? Why did he let thousands die, including women and children? Why did he let our homeland of thousands of years be stripped from us, while his government constantly told us we would win?
If the Armenian people restore true leaders to the government, a preemptive strike with these missiles can go a long way to help win the next war before it even begins. It worked for Israel. In the Six-Day War, “Israel staged a sudden preemptive air assault that destroyed more than 90 percent [sic] Egypt’s air force on the tarmac.”
The Russian Orlan-10 drone has been used in the Donbass and in Syria, as well as in the 44-day war. In the final days of the conflict, videos emerged of what were apparently Armenian Orlan-10 drones coordinating with artillery to destroy invading hostiles.
The Orlan-10 is used for reconnaissance, target-finding for artillery and electronic warfare. According to one source, an Orlan-10 drone costs between $87,000 and $120,000.
For the sake of simplicity, suppose the price of an Orlan-10 drone is $100,000. Pashinyan notoriously wasted approximately $100 million on four SU-30 jets without missiles. The Armenian government could have purchased a staggering 1,000 Orlan-10 drones or other cost-effective assets with these wasted resources.
In fact, President Sargsyan had a similar idea. Sargsyan stated in an interview that his administration had drafted a multi-year plan to acquire 2,500 drones by the year 2024, consisting of a combination of reconnaissance and attack drones, among other weaponry.
Slightly over 1,000 of these 2,500 drones were to be acquired between 2018 and 2020. After the 2018 regime change that brought Pashinyan to power, these plans were not fulfilled.
What is to be done?
I’ve briefly presented three systems that may prove useful in defending Armenia: Tor, Pantsir and Orlan-10. There are many more possibilities that cannot be covered in a single article.
Further still, weapons acquisitions are only one part of an effective defense. There are also the questions of leadership, training, infrastructure, fortifications, etc.
We must immediately rid ourselves of Pashinyan and labor alongside true leadership to rebuild our military and society. If we do so, not only will we be able to defend ourselves, but we can also be a victorious people again as we were not long ago.
Gor Mkrtchian is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University. He received a BA in political science from Yale University. Gor is also a contributor to the Mises Wire