Armenia Confirms Possession of Sophisticated Anti-Aircraft Missiles


MOSCOW (RFE/RL)–Armenia officially acknowledged on Monday that its armed forces are equipped with Russian-made surface-to-air missiles widely regarded as one of the world’s most potent anti-aircraft weapons.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian visited one of the Armenian army’s anti-aircraft units and “familiarized himself with the work of the state-of-the-art S-300 air-defense systems” over the weekend. A ministry statement said he also inspected new facilities built there.

Originally designed in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and repeatedly upgraded since then, the systems have a firing range of up to 200 kilometers. Their radars can simultaneously track up to 100 targets, including both aircraft and cruise missiles.

Russia deployed at least one battery of S-300s in Armenia in the late 1990s, significantly beefing up its military base stationed there. Russian and Armenian forces have since been jointly protecting Armenia’s airspace. Their integrated air-defense system was given a “regional” status by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in early 2007.

Top Russian military officials said at the time that Moscow has further upgraded Armenia’s anti-aircraft capacity and trained Armenian specialists to operate S-300s. The Armenian military confirmed that, saying the training process began in 2005. It would not clarify until now whether the Russians have actually transferred such weapons to their Armenian ally.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Defense Ministry spokesman Davit Karapetian confirmed that the Armenian army now has S-300s in its missile arsenal. He declined to specify their number and dates of delivery.

According to the Defense Ministry statement, Ohanian inspected the Armenian S-300s after inaugurating a new Russian-Armenian “air-defense command point” possessing “state-of-the-art equipment.” The statement quoted him as saying that the development raised Russian-Armenian military cooperation to a “qualitatively new plane.”

The announcement follows media reports that Moscow is planning to sell two batteries of S-300 to Azerbaijan, in a deal worth $300 million. The reports, not denied by Russian officials, have raised concern in Armenia and Karabakh.

Opposition groups there say the long-range missiles would seriously limit the Armenian military’s ability to hit strategic targets in Azerbaijan and would thereby encourage Baku to try to resolve the Karabakh dispute by force.

Ohanian dismissed such concerns in an August interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We are very familiar with those systems, we have been exploiting them for quite a long time, and we know the possibilities of reducing the effectiveness of such systems,” he said.

“Even in case of acquiring those systems, Azerbaijan will need quite a lot of time to develop an integrated radio-technical system catering for them,” added the minister.

12 Responses

for “Armenia Confirms Possession of Sophisticated Anti-Aircraft Missiles”

  1. facts says:

    only up to 200 kilometers !?

    • Gagik says:

      I don’t understand your shock. If strategically stationed, 200 km range missiles easily cover all of the area of Armenia and Artsakh and some beyond. Any threat can be shot down before even reaching Armenian airspace. What, did you expect us to be able to hit Baku from Armenia?

    • John K. says:

      This is a defensive weapon not offensive. 200Kms is more than enough to defend Armenian airspace.

      • krikor says:

        Gagik and john, have you ever saw (muratsgan) baging for money but demand you how much to pay???? lol, this is what mr facts says looks like.

  2. Armanen says:

    Armenia in all likelihood has weapons that can reach baku. Maybe not if fired from Armenia proper, but certainly if fired from Artsakh.

  3. mike says:

    armenia has the right to protect itself

  4. Hagop says:

    There is no such pure notion as “defensive” or offensive”. If you can defend yourself then you can attack !

  5. Garo says:

    Dear Gagik, actually we are in position to hit Istanbul from Armenia. I’m not bluffing. We have full capability to hit any target in whole Azerbaijan. Our leaders are doing the right thing by not disclosing our military capabilities.

    • ARN. says:

      WELL -

      ISTANBUL/TSARIGRAD SHALL NOT BELONG TO TURKEY FOR LONG,
      IT IS NOT TURKEYS.

      Our leaders are doing the right thing by not disclosing our military capabilities.

      HOPEFULLY IT STAYS THAT WAY AND EVEN WITH YOU.

      Arn of Sweden.

  6. vartan says:

    if you hit baku and the pipeline and the black gold instalation thats the end of war for aliyev…….
    his own friends will get ride of him…..

  7. ARN. says:

    FIRST – THIS SYSTEM CAN NOT PROTECT ARMENIA AGINST LOW-FLYING AIRCRAFT,
    SNEAKING IN THROUGH VALEYS IN MONTAINIOUS TERRAIN.

    ( IN THE BALKAN WAR – NATO WAS FORCED TO FLY 4000 METERS HIGH ABOVE – IN ORDER TO ESCAPE THE SHOULDERLAUNCHED ANTIAIRMISSILES WITH THE SERBIANS ).

    SECONDLY – THIS SYSTEM IS NOT SAFE AGINST CONTRAMEASURIES WITH AN SOPHISTICATED HIGH-TECNOLOGICAL ENEMY AS NATO.

    SO – ??? – !!!.

    ARN.of SWEDEN.

  8. vahram says:

    The mission of S-300 is to cover the airspace of Armenia from most dangerous threats such as bombers and cruise missles. The prise of individual missle does not make it possible for armenia to waste it on targets that do not posses direct threat to itself and other strategic instalations. The placement of these systems will be around Yerevan Gyumri Stepanakert and Shushi which will protect the main cities government and civil instalations. It would be foolish to assume that armenia will cover its airspace with S-300 alone there are other systems that have that responsebility to engage low flying and evasive targets in mountains and places that arent coverd by radar

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