YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia has received new state-of-the-art weaponry from India. In response to questions about the Zen drone system, the Armenian defense official said, “the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia are working intensively to increase the level of defense capability.” Armenia’s lack of drone countermeasures were a major factor in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. If confirmed, the Zen purchase would be the latest of a large array of Indian weapons now bound for Armenia.
In July 2023, India’s first-ever export of its domestically made Pinaka rocket system reportedly arrived in Armenia. Azerbaijan alleged the weapons systems were transported through Iran to Armenia’s southern border.
The Pinaka system is named after the bow of Indian deity Shiva. Its range of 40 kilometers is relatively short compared to some Soviet-designed rocket systems, but it has been dubbed the “Indian HIMARS” for its reported accuracy. The Armenian purchase was valued at $260 million for several Pinaka launcher systems and associated ammunition.
In August 2023, Armenia received its first shipment of India’s Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS). Yerevan has reportedly ordered 84 of the weapons at a cost of $155.5 million, and was the first country India sold
ATAGS are 155 mm howitzers designed to be towed by trucks, but can also drive short distances under their own power, reducing the “pack up” time required for moving the weapon out of position. The guns suffered multiple setbacks during their development, which began in 2013, with one exploding during training in September 2020. Several Indian soldiers were injured when a ATAGS gun barrel reportedly burst due to poor-quality steel.
In another sign of Yerevan pivoting away from Moscow, the country’s military — which has historically relied on Soviet- and Russian-made military hardware — also acquired three French-made Thales Ground Master 200 radar systems in October 2023.