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Vahe Sarukhanyan

2021-2023: Azerbaijan Purchased Attack Drones, Guided Aerial Bombs

While Azerbaijan hasn’t spoken about its military imports in any detail following the 2020 Artsakh war, information about Baku’s recent military purchases appears in the press and on analytical platforms.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Azerbaijan has ordered goods of military or dual purpose (applicable in both civil and military spheres) from several countries between 2021 and 2023.

SIPRI, operating since 1966, specializes in conflict and peace research, mainly studying the production and movement of weapons and ammunition in the world. 

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Turkey: guided bombs, armored vehicles, attack drones

SIPRI reports that in 2022 Azerbaijan received 109 guided aerial bombs from Turkey. The institute notes that this may not be an exact number, and the purchase order was probably placed in 2021.

The institute identifies the bombs as KGK-83 weapons, but they are U.S.-made MK-83 unguided aerial bombs that the Turkish state enterprise SAGE (Defense Industry Research and Development Institute) equips with a wing-assisted guidance kit (KGK). SAGE modified the MK-82 and MK-83 bombs, which weigh 230 and 450 kg, respectively, making them guided.

In 2023, it was reported that Azerbaijan is modernizing the Su-25 ground-attack aircraft of its military fleet in Turkey, on which, among other changes, KGK-83 aerial bombs are installed. In May last year, photos were published for the first time showing the Azerbaijani Su-25 carrying KGK-83 Type 2 aerial bombs (see the orange missiles below).

SIPRI reports that in 2022 Azerbaijan ordered and received twelve Cobra II armored vehicles designed and manufactured by the Turkish private company Otokar. Cobra armored vehicles were first delivered to Azerbaijan in December 2010, but those appearing in the SIPRI database (Cobra II) are the modernized version, which Turkey demonstrated for the first time in 2013.

Another weapon Baku purchased from Turkey is the Bayraktar Akıncı combat UAV manufactured by Baykar, a company belonging to Erdogan's in-laws, the Bayraktar family.

Two of these UAVs were displayed in 2022 at the technology festival held in Baku in May. The technical director of Baykar Selçuk Bayraktar, the son-in-law of the Turkish president, announced in Baku that he hoped to see Bayraktar Akıncı over the skies of Azerbaijan. Baykar also announced, without mentioning names, that it had signed export contracts for Akıncı with three countries and deliveries were planned to start in 2023.

Azerbaijan displayed its purchased Akıncı for the first time on February 9 of this year (see below), when Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of the UAV training center and hangar.

Hetq wrote about the tactical and technical characteristics of the Akıncı UAVs and their applicability in the South Caucasus in August 2023. (Azerbaijan’s Possible Purchase of New Turkish Attack Drones)

We should add that the Akıncı UAV, among other weapons, can also employ KGK-83 and KGK-82 guided aerial bombs.

Israel: reconnaissance satellites

Last December, Hetq wrote about Azerbaijani military purchases from Israel. Baku will buy the Barak MX anti-aircraft defense systems in a $1.2 billion deal. However, there is no information about them in SIPRI. Instead, the research institute mentions the order for two OptSat 500 reconnaissance satellites (2023), which we also touched on.

The manufacturer of the anti-aircraft system and satellites is Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a longtime partner of Azerbaijan.

According to IAI data, these satellites take pictures in panchromatic, multispectral (RGB+NIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) spectrums. The resolution of the images is 0.4 m or 40 cm. The lifetime of OptSat 500 satellites is seven years.

Italy: military transport aircraft

Azerbaijan, last June, signed a contract with the Italian company Leonardo for the purchase of C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft. How many planes it will receive and at what price has not been officially made public. However, the professional website flightglobal.com assumes one plane was ordered.

The first flight of C-27J took place in 1999. In general, military transport aircraft are designed to transport cargo and personnel. According to available information, Azerbaijan has acquired the C-27J Next Generation version. The maximum take-off weight is 32.5 tons, of which 11.3 tons is the maximum size of the payload.

A photo of the C-27J acquired by Azerbaijan has already appeared on the Internet before it was sent to that country. The photo was taken on April 24 at the airport in Turin, Italy.

USA: aircraft engines

SIPRI reports that Azerbaijan ordered an unspecified number of aviation engines from the USA in 2023. 

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