Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army has received more modern surveillance and reconnaissance equipment after last April’s heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces, according to its top commander.
Lieutenant General Levon Mnatsakanian said on Thursday that the lack of such intelligence-gathering equipment is the main reason why his troops were taken by surprise by an Azerbaijani offensive at two sections of “the line of contact” around Karabakh.
“But now frontline units of the [Karabakh] Defense Army are equipped with technical means that allow us to gather intelligence from the necessary depth,” Mnatsakanian told a news conference in Stepanakert. “We are now constantly monitoring Azerbaijani troop movements and actions.”
“Our capacity to … know the enemy’s further plans and draw appropriate conclusions has increased,” he said, according to Artsakhpress.am. “We are now able to gather intelligence from the necessary depth not only in daytime but also at night.”
“Our troops are now prepared for more large-scale hostilities,” added the general.
Mnatsakanian did not disclose the types of reconnaissance equipment which he said has been supplied to Karabakh Armenian forces. He might have referred to more sophisticated drones and/or night-vision devices meant to forestall commando raids by the enemy.
Nagorno-Karabakh -- Mobile artillery units of the self-defence army of Nagorno-Karabakh hold a position outside the settlement of Hadrut, not far from the Iranian border, April 5, 2016
The Azerbaijani army is thought to have primarily relied on its commando units when it attacked Karabakh Armenian positions in northeastern Karabakh and at a frontline section close to the Iranian border early on April 2. The hostilities, which left at least 190 soldiers from both sides dead, were stopped by a Russian-brokered truce on April 5.
Armenia’s and Karabakh’s closely integrated armed forces have used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other equipment for intelligence gathering for the past several years.
The April escalation led to renewed allegations by some of Armenia’s leading information technology (IT) experts that the Armenian military had repeatedly ignored their offers to modernize such devices and even design new ones. The military responded by pledging to significantly step up cooperation with domestic tech companies interested in defense.
In a related development, Karabakh’s government said last month that it has helped the army build new defense fortifications along the entire “line of contact” since April.
Karabakh Armenian positions began to be fortified immediately after what many in the conflict zone call a “four-day war.” Virtually all local construction firms were mobilized for the effort. RFE/RL correspondents witnessed some of that construction work later in April.