CHARENTSAVAN, Armenia (RFE/RL)—In a further boost to Polish-Armenian military cooperation, the Armenian Defense Ministry and a Polish defense company inaugurated on Thursday a joint venture in Armenia manufacturing protective equipment for armed forces.
The Lubawa-Armenia enterprise was officially launched in Charentsavan, a small town 40 kilometers north of Yerevan, in the presence of Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, his former Polish counterpart Bodgan Klich and senior defense industry executives from the two states.
The company will use the technology and expertise of Poland’s Lubawa SA group to produce a range of protective gear such as army helmets, flak jackets, big and inflatable tents, camouflage netting and decoys. Ohanian was reported to say that these items will be supplied to the armed forces of not only Armenia but also other nations, possibly including members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Lubawa-Armenia was set up in March 2013 and began operating shortly afterwards at the premises of a defense plant in Charentsavan mostly owned by the Armenian Defense Ministry. According to Razm.info, a Yerevan-based defense news service, it signed with the ministry last December a $1 million contract to supply the Armenian army with camouflage nets.
The Armenian government approved in July its $1 million contribution to the Polish-Armenian company, which largely took the form of real property set aside at the Charentsavan plant. Ohanian said at the time that Lubawa, which has a 51 percent share in the venture, will make $10 million in capital investments.
In a speech at the opening ceremony cited by his press office, Ohanian spoke of “a new page opening in the history of Polish-Armenian cooperation in the area of defense industry.” He discussed that cooperation at a meeting with Klich on Tuesday. Klich served as Poland’s defense minister from 2007-2011 and is now a Polish senator.
The official launch of the Charentsavan facility, although significant, is apparently not the largest tangible consequence of Armenia’s military ties with NATO member Poland. Russian news sources reported last year that another Polish company has begun modernizing 84 Armenian tanks in line with a $100 million contract signed with Yerevan in 2013. The Armenian Defense Ministry did not deny that information.
The Armenian army’s Russian-made T-72 tanks will reportedly get stronger dynamic armor and be equipped with more powerful engines, new machine guns, surveillance cameras and state-of-the-art communication systems. Some defense analysts believe that these upgrades will make them analogous to the more advanced T-90 tanks currently manufactured by Russia.
Russia, which is allied to Armenia, is due to complete early next year the ongoing delivery of about 100 T-90s to Azerbaijan in accordance with large-scale defense contracts signed in 2010.