Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian on Friday hinted at Armenia’s impending acquisition of state-of-the-art Russian ballistic missiles capable of striking targets more than 400 kilometers away.
Ohanian was asked at a news conference to comment on rumors that the Armenian military will soon get hold of Iskander-M systems, one of the most advance weapons of its kind in the world. “As regards long-range and precision-guided weapons, our agreements remain in force and in 2014 we will finally complete the acquisition of long-range and precision-guided weapons,” he said.
Ohanian referred to Armenia’s military cooperation with Russian developing within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (OSCE). He cited Russian-Armenian “understandings” on supplies of long-range systems and other “modern weapons.” But he gave no further details.
President Serzh Sarkisian said late last month that Armenia will boost its military strength in “one or two years” with new and powerful weapons which many other countries do not have at their disposal. He did not elaborate.
The Iskander-M system, known for its precision, was developed in the 1990s and adopted by the Russian army in 2006. With an operational range of at least 400 kilometers, its 7.3-meter-long missiles can overcome existing missile-defense systems, according to Russian military officials and experts.
An Armenian military source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last June that Russian has already deployed such missiles in Armenia, presumably at its military base headquartered in Gyumri. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan did not officially confirm or deny that claim.
The Armenian army is currently equipped with less advanced Scud-B and Tochka-U ballistic missiles that have firing ranges of 300 kilometers and 120 kilometers respectively. It also reportedly purchased in 2011 Chinese AR1A multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of up to 130 kilometers. Yerevan makes no secret of its readiness to use such weapons against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh.