Armenia has taken significant steps to fortify its defense capabilities by procuring advanced weaponry from India, marking a pivotal moment in their military cooperation. This acquisition, which includes six state-of-the-art Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS), is set to bolster Armenia’s defense forces significantly. Moreover, the contract specifies the phased delivery of an additional 84 ATAGS artillery guns over the next three years, reaffirming India’s commitment to supporting Armenia’s defense needs.
Indian Defense Ministry confirms that Armenia bought (307 piece) the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) 155mm/52 caliber from India.
Armenia’s Strategic Arms Acquisition Amidst Regional Tensions
Armenia’s decision to acquire Indian armaments comes at a time of heightened regional tensions, particularly in its ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan. The purchase encompasses a diverse range of munitions, including anti-tank missiles, Pinaka Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), and long-range artillery. This move raised concerns in Azerbaijan, a close ally of Pakistan and Turkey, who viewed it as a significant development in the military balance of power in the South Caucasus.
Azerbaijan’s apprehensions were further exacerbated when it was reported that the Indian weaponry was transiting through Iran, a nation under heavy international sanctions. The transfer of these arms via Iran’s Bandar Abbas port and subsequent overland journey to Armenia via the Nurduz border crossing only deepened regional tensions.
India’s Emergence as a Defense Exporter
India’s transformation from a leading arms importer to a prominent arms exporter has been a noteworthy shift in the global defense landscape. The Pinaka MLRS, developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has drawn parallels with the American HIMARS and has gained international recognition. Indian defense companies have even received orders from major U.S. defense firms for advanced weapon platforms.
This significant expansion in India’s arms exports aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a self-reliant India in military supplies. As India seeks to diversify its defense procurement strategy and reduce its dependence on arms imports, the arms export sector has become central to its “Made in India” program.
Armenia’s Growing Partnership with India
Armenia’s military cooperation with India is not a recent development but has been steadily growing since at least 2011, with military-technical cooperation formalized in 2017. The recent arms deals build upon previous contracts, including the acquisition of Swathi phased array radars in 2020. These ties are likely to expand further as Armenia has allocated a substantial portion of its 2023 defense budget to arms purchases.
India’s Global Reach in Arms Sales
India’s willingness to export advanced weaponry, such as the Pinaka MLRS and ATAGS artillery guns, demonstrates its potential to capture a broader global market for Indian-manufactured arms. These cost-effective alternatives can compete with more expensive arms offered by the United States, Europe, Russia, and China, especially in regions with heightened security needs, such as Africa.
Regional Implications and Geopolitical Realities
While India’s arms exports have been met with opposition from neighboring countries, such as Azerbaijan, they highlight India’s growing influence in the post-Soviet space. Additionally, India’s efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian arms align with its broader strategic goals, which include countering the technological disparity with China.
Furthermore, Russia’s stalemated invasion in Ukraine has strained Moscow’s ability to fulfill arms orders, creating incentives for India to further enhance its self-sufficiency in arms production.
India’s delivery of ATAGS artillery guns to Armenia marks a significant milestone in their military cooperation. As Armenia strengthens its defense capabilities, India solidifies its position as a rising player in the global arms export market, with the potential to reshape the dynamics of military procurement in regions worldwide.