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Azerbaijan Is Showing Off New Weapons Again

June 12, 2018

President Ilham Aliyev. Via Wikimedia Commons.

One week after visiting a new military base Azerbaijan’s leader showed up in another location to perform the same routine. The resulting propaganda offered fresh glimpses into what’s beginning to look like a broad overhaul of Azerbaijan’s armed forces, who may now be considered the best equipped among the former Soviet states.

Azerbaijan is an oil-rich country locked in simmering war with a separatist enclave called Nagorno-Karabakh that aspires to join neighboring Armenia. For almost 30 years now Baku and Yerevan have been irreconcilable enemies locked in a bizarre arms race.

Via President.az

The multitude of photos released of President Aliyev’s visit showed him inspecting an empty base’s ammenities, which included the barracks and the mess hall. But an unexpected surprise was a single photo of Aliyev being shown a rifle from inside an armory.

Just like their counterparts in Russia, Azerbaijan’s soldiers are issued the AK-74. But the photo above shows an AR-rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm rounds used on the AK-47/AKM. This is proven by the curvature of the magazines arranged above the stored rifles.

An analysis by Miles Vining of Silah Report revealed the new rifles look like a rare model manufactured in Belarus that could have been licensed from a US startup. Whatever the mystery rifle’s designation in Azerbaijan is, this marks another crucial step away from Soviet-era arms by a post-Soviet country.

Via President.az

Aliyev’s trip around the base extended to its motor pool where a new offensive weapon system was presented to the autocrat. Azerbaijan is known to possess older BM-21 “Grad,” the long-range BM-30 “Smerch,” and the Israeli Lynx multiple rocket launchers as well as portable 107mm rockets. But judging by its appearance this new mobile rocket artillery looks like the Polonez manufactured in Belarus that’s known for its extreme range.

The Polonez represents a rare fusion of Belarusian and Chinese technology and may qualify as the most lethal rocket artillery weapon in Europe today. Azerbaijan has been a customer of Belarus since the 1990s and possessing Polonez batteries could be for blunting Armenia’s precious Iskander short-range ballistic missiles delivered by Russia.

Via President.az

As a lifelong dictator with a personality cult, Aliyev is always photographed with the latest armaments bought with his country’s oil wealth. Since the turn of the century Baku has relied on Russia, Turkey, and Israel as main suppliers for its war machine. Yet in the photo above it seems as if Belarus is now a favored partner. The truck behind Aliyev is clearly branded with “Volat”–a state-owned manufacturer from Belarus that provides wheeled transports for almost any conceivable purpose.

The nature of the truck’s cargo, however, isn’t as forthcoming. From its appearance it looks like a cell for a quartet of battlefield rockets. But there’s credence to its rumored origins. The cell resembles the container for Israeli Lora ballistic missiles that each have a range up to 300 km. This makes sense, because Israel has sold Azerbaijan everything from rifles to kamikaze drones and, rumor has it, even the Iron Dome. It’s now hard to argue that Azerbaijan’s new weapons aren’t impressive.

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