The War, Those Drones, and $s

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

We’ve been dealing with Turkish invasions, marauding, murder, war-making, cruelty, destructiveness, and overall inhumanity for more than a millennium. Azerbaijan’s behavior, guided and supported by Turkey, while heartbreaking and infuriating, are nothing new for us. They fit the pattern well.

The fact that Baku is using suicide drones simply to sow terror and wreak destruction fits the pattern. The fact that they are using religion-crazed mercenaries to give their murderous intent Islamic overtones fits the pattern. The fact that they are sending these same mercenaries in greater proportion to the front as cannon-fodder, just as they did during the 1990s war with their minorities – Tats, Talysh, and various mountain peoples – fits the pattern. The fact that they are shelling civilian, non-military, areas fits the pattern. The fact that they are using white phosphorus to incinerate forests, causing immense damage in these times of climate change, just to burn out any refugees, or even military, hiding there fits the pattern. The fact that they are leaving behind the corpses of their dead to rot by the hundreds if not thousands, fits the pattern.

But, after all this, it struck me that we have no real sense of how much this is costing Aliyev’s kleptocracy in terms of dollar, not human, terms. Knowing, or at least guesstimating what this cost is could give us a sense of how long the murderous, destructive, attacks against our homeland can go on. So, I started to do some on-line snooping around, inspired by the fact that gives almost daily, tabular, reports of Azerbaijan’s cumulative losses.

I have taken a very cautious, conservative approach in the numbers I use so we end up with a worst case scenario as you will see. Built-in to my approach is that the list of losses can’t possibly include everything, since it represents only certain categories of equipment I am not addressing casualties and the costs they impose, either.

The cost of Azerbaijani drones

The military hardware losses

Please refer to Table 1 as we through some arithmetic. Let’s start with airborne equipment then move to the ground.

Azerbaijan's defense budget since 1992

Azerbaijan’s defense budget since 1992

For drones, prices ranged from $50,000 to the highest end at $405,000,000. Specifically, for the Harops (suicide drones) I found a sale by Israel to India of $100,000,000 for ten of them, i.e. $10 million each. The Turkish made Bayraktar, which our forces have downed, comes in at $5 million. With my cautious approach, I am guessing that many of the drones they’re using are on the lower cost end, so I settled on an average cost of $3 million each. For helicopters, I found prices in the $9-35 million range and settled on using $15 million. For airplanes, the range was $20-58 million, so I went with $35 million. Here, I’m assuming that none of the planes we’ve downed are at the really high end of the latest MIGs or F-16s and the like.

The data provided list armored vehicles. I broke it down into two parts, tanks and other, once again guessing, that a quarter were tanks. For tanks, a lot of the prices seemed to be in the $8-10 million range, so I went with eight. For other armored vehicles, which had a really broad range of prices, I went with one million, each. Finally, for the TOS systems (these are multiple rocket launchers that are set up with either 24 or 30 tubes to fire as many rockets back-to-back) prices ranged between four and six million, so I chose five.

This is how I came up with the $3.713 figure in Table 1. But what does this mean? To place it in context, what we have to know is how much military gear Azerbaijan has. Enter, Table 2. This shows how much Baku spent on its military budget each year from 1992 to 2018. The total is $28.63 billion. To include 2019 and 2020, considering the growth of the last three years and that now there is a hot war on which means more spending, I rounded that up to $35 billion.

But, that can’t all have been spent on materiel since soldiers have to be fed, clothed, and housed. I found some numbers for the U.S. which showed this part of military spending to be about one-quarter of the budget. While I’m certain Azerbaijan doesn’t treat its soldiers as well as Washington, the latter has other costs that the former doesn’t, meaning the proportions shift back. Let’s stick with 25%. Also, over three decades, some equipment had to have been disposed, plus bombs and bullets get used up, so let’s say that’s another 5%. So we’ll reduce that $35 billion by 30%. This leaves Azerbaijan with $24.5 billion in military gear.

So if $3.713 billion has already been destroyed in one month, meaning roughly 15%, that gives Baku another six months’ worth of equipment to lose, based strictly on dollar-terms. Of course Turkey could resupply Azerbaijan, but how much and how fast could they move through Georgia, by air or land, before that becomes an issue? Of course extraordinary purchases could be made from Aliyev’s suppliers. Conversely, remember that the set of guesses I made exclude many, smaller, costs. Then factor in the reality that winter is coming and that usually slows down military operations.

We are left with two realizations if these numbers are anywhere near correct. This war could drag on until about the end of summer 2021. The urgency with which Azerbaijan is pursuing this latest round of aggression is a result of the fact that there is a limit on how long they can last.

Finally, what can we do in the Diaspora? It’s simple. Support Sdepanagerd/Stepanakert and Yerevan with our fundraising and in some cases supplying such simple items as the right kind of cloth for uniforms.

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4 Comments

  1. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    I believe that, with the unanimity of the country’s experts, we only have to convince the high-tech military countries to provide us with anti-drone weapons. The populations have no food or sartorial problem but to achieve the CAPITULATION of this psychopath who orchestrates the violent anti-Armenian sentiment under the tutelage of this same Turkish psychopath who wants to complete his crime of genocide to install, as neo sultan, his caliphate constitutes false Muslims thirsting for blood, egotizing the Christians and our democraties CIVILES. I cannot understand the lachete of our international institutions which evidence in hand do not punish these madmen and orders an international embargo on the delivery of weapons prohibited from use according to international conventions. Our people serve as cannon fodder to protect besides Russia but the Western world with its culture. We still have hope for France, which is showing its dignity and seems to want to bring appropriate sanctions because without sanction the Ottomans are at the gates of VIENNA.

  2. Garo said:

    Garen brings up an important fact.
    This war is not a one month war. It will go on. Wars are very costly as we can see.
    Add to this cost, the pandemia which is tasking state budgets, and the rebuilding cost, we have a tremendous emergency expenses that the Armenian people of Artsakh and Armenia cannot support for too long.
    What we need is each Armenian family of Diaspora to donate $2-3/ day to Armenia fund. Having about 1.5 million Armenian families in Diaspora that will generate about $150 million per month, similar to what was collected in month of October. That amounts to $1.8 billion per year.
    Now that will help pay for the war and pandemia related expenses.
    It will make Armenia and Artsakh independent in their political, military and economic decisions. it will help the health system from collapsing
    We need to generate that kind of support.
    We need to make recurring contributions every month, according to our budgets. Above argument is based on $100 per month. It’s totally voluntary. We are getting close to holidays and we should think of the emergency and existential war in Artsakh.
    Instead of Christmas gifts we should donate to Armenia fund every month,for years to come.

    • HAGOP said:

      AND WHO IS GOING TO MANAGE 150 MILLION DOLLARS A MONTH????? GAGO AND THE OTHER CORRUPT POLITICIANS?????? THIS IS THE PROBLEM!!!!!! ARMENIA LOST ARTSAKH 30 YEARS AGO WHEN ARMENIEN LEADERS BEGAN TO STEAL MONEY!!!!!! NO JOBS!!! ARMENIANS LEAVE THE COUNTRY!!!!! NO MONEY!!!! CAN’T INVEST IN ARMENIA TO MAKE IT STRONG!!!!!! $1.8 BILLION A YEAR!! HAHAHAHAHA I WILL NOT GIVE ONE CENT TO CROOKS IN ARMENIA!!!! NO GUARANTEE THAT MONEY WILL STAY IN ARMENIA AND INVESTED IN ARMENIA!!!! SAD!!!!!!!!!

  3. HAGOP said:

    GAREN YEGPAYRIIAN!!!!! REMEMBER ME????? I TALK ABOUT THAT ARMENIA NEEDS TO BE NOT CORRUPT!!!!!! I TALK ABOUT ARMENIA NEEDS TO MAKE MILITARY STRONG!!!!!! I TALK ABOUT THAT ARMENIEA NEEDS TO MAKE INVEST IN COUNTRY!!!!!! I TALK ABOUT ALL THESE THINGS MANY MANY MANY MONTHS AGO!!!!!!!!! NOW LOOK!!!!! CORRUPTION IS CANCER AND ARMENIAN CORRUPT LEADERS ARE WORSE THAN TURKS!!!!!!!! 30 YEARS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS STOLEN WHEN THAT MONEY CAN INVEST IN ARMENIA TO MAKE STRONG!!!!!!!!! PATHETIC!!

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