U.S.-Financed Azeri Satellite: A Threat to Armenia’s Security?

Azerbaijan is hoping to finalize a deal with the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, a U.S. government agency, to finance a multi-million dollar satellite financing project. The loan will afford Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies the needed funds to purchase an advanced satellite, ground control equipment, and secure the necessary training. A U.S. supplier, Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) of Dulles, Va., has been contracted for the project. Armenian entities fear the new satellite’s use will extend to military applications, threatening neighboring Armenia and the Nagorno Karabagh Republic.

Azerbaijan’s Communication Ministry claims the satellite, dubbed Azerspace, will be used for the purpose of commercial telecommunications by one of its agencies, the International Relations and Accounting Center (IRAC). It says the satellite will provide telecommunications and broadcasting services for the Republic of Azerbaijan, with its leftover capacities servicing customers in Africa and Central Asia.

However, Armenian entities have expressed concern over its possible military use. Azerbaijan’s government has not shied away from aggressive language and outright threats of war while discussing Karabagh, going as far as calling Armenia’s capital Yerevan an ancient Azeri city.

Because the loan amount will exceed $100 million, Ex-Im Bank needs approval from Congress. In January, the bank’s president, Fred Hochberg, addressed a letter to Senate President Joseph Biden summing up the transaction description and explanation of the bank’s financing plan. According to reports, Azerbaijan has already apportioned about $25 million to the satellite; the bank will cover the remaining $96 million for manufacturing expenses, in addition to funds for related costs.

Recent threats by Azerbaijan against Armenia reached a new high when Baku announced it would shoot down civilian aircrafts flying from Armenia to the newly renovated airport of Stepanakert in Karabagh. The airport is due to reopen on May 9. The director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration, Arif Mammadov, said the Azerbaijani government had not authorized such flights to Karabagh. “We notified that the airspace over Karabagh is closed. The law on aviation envisages the physical destruction of airplanes landing in that territory,” he reportedly told APA news agency.

U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza called this threat “unacceptable,” but fell short of calling on Baku to withdraw its warning. Meanwhile, Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian said he would be on the first civilian flight to Karabagh.

Two weeks later, on April 1, the spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Elkhan Polukhov, reportedly said, “Azerbaijan did not and will not use force against civil facilities, unlike Armenia, which has earned notoriety for terror and war against the civilian population.” Nonetheless, it is hard to dismiss a threat of that magnitude, hurled along with other threats of a resumption of war.

Azerbaijan’s attempts at intimidation certainly substantiate concerns from Armenian entities that the Azerspace satellite will have military applications if Azeri aggression escalates. Border incidents have not subsided, with Azeri snipers targeting Armenian soldiers. Most recently, Azerbaijan claimed that Armenian snipers killed an infant child. On March 9, Armenia’s Defense Ministry issued a press release denying the news, adding that the “the scribblers of the Azerbaijani disinformation” were merely attempting to “save the image of the country” and diverting attention from the March 5 killing of an Armenian soldier by an Azeri sniper. It further noted that “Armenia and Karabagh have repeatedly expressed their positive attitude to the appeals of the international community to terminate the actions of the snipers on the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line, while Azerbaijan continues to carry out its provocative actions by the means of its snipers.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, speaking on the occasion of Novruz, said he had no doubt Azerbaijan would “restore its territorial integrity.” He did not rule out the use of force, noting the country “is paying serious attention to army building.”

“The ever-strengthening Azerbaijan is absolutely confident that this issue can be resolved in any manner… There isn’t and can’t be any other option. The Azerbaijani people and state will never tolerate a second Armenian state on their historical lands. Nagorno-Karabagh will never be granted independence,” said Aliyev.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has sent a letter to the president of Ex-Im Bank and consulted with U.S. legislators regarding the Armenian American community’s concerns and objections regarding the Azerspace Satellite Project and its potential military use. Sources close to Armenian authorities report that officials in Yerevan have also raised concerns on this matter with the U.S. government. Azerbaijan has said that it plans to launch the satellite between July and Aug. 2012.

The Armenian Weekly has contacted both Ex-Im Bank and Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communication and IT for comments. Neither has responded.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. This is alarming, we should gather signed petition to stop this satellite; since Azeri government and it’s dicktator  Aliev have been rattling the sword lately.They even threatened to down civilian planes destined to fly into Artsakh.They backtracked on that but still it shows Azeri mindset.
    Good article  Nanor, thank you.

  2. So, tell me, is this threat – real and grave and imminent – less important than the recognition of the Genocide? Unfortunately, our resources are very limited and we need to choose carefully where to spend them. We should answer to ourselves whether we prioritize the fate of Karabakh’s (and tomorrow – the entire Armenian state) future over the recognition. I say – Karabakh is way more important – and achievable – than pressing the Administration to utter the “word” on the Remembrance Day. Wake up, Armenians! Call your representative and ask tough questions about blood-sucking, despotic, totalitarian, corrupt and drunk with oil money Azerbaijan – and it’s persistent threat to Karabakh and Armenia.

  3. Think the Armenian lobbies and all Armenians should get to work and block the sale.
    President Aliyev, from what I gather, is not the most stable person in town.

  4. How can this satellite be used as a military tool? I doubt it has any spy satellite capabilities. Have the specifications of this satellite made public?

  5. Robert .. you are the karma.. bad karma that is…  and trust me not to us… so instead of jumping up and down from joy (even though i don’t know why you are so happy because Azeris are bunch of looney toons like Turkish govt and have no idea form black and white) you should really access your incapable brain of yours tht this news is nothing but to use scare tactic again by your savage brothers ….Azeris.. however, no matter what you people attempt to do, trust me, you will be shut down… sooner or later…so keep up your stupid celebration every time you hear something that merely benefits your blood suckers ut rest assure you will not be overjoyed too long…

    killing 1.5 + million people deliberetly and covering your tracks is a crime against humanity.. and Karma ROBERT for this crime is going to be definintely a BIG B*(*(*(*(*(…

    Be ready for it..


  6. I am sure that Iran will be more concern about this settlite, especially if it is made in US….
    Iranians have many settlite of their own and I am sure is fully covered south Caucasus….
    Robert, Iran is an Islamic nation and they will air truth bout Armenian Genocide you may be interested to read this article!! I wonder what kinds of brotherly friendship “Muslim AKP” have with Iranian government!!

    Turkey shocked at screening of Armenian Genocide documentary in Iran on April 24

  7. David I agree with you.  Armenian energies should be focused on helping Karabagh, and of course, Armenia.  Protection of real lives and homes should be priority, even if that means genocide recognition is back-burnered for the time being.  The situation is critical and if Karabakh falls, Armenia is in jeopardy.  

    The divisions in our community and competing priorities are very damaging to our nation. The debacle with the Armenian Genocide Museum in DC has left the Armenian Assembly lame.  I encourage those at Cafesjian Foundation to work earnestly to get the museum built.  Once the museum stands as a viable learning and memorial institution in the capital city of the free world, it will be a testament to the truth, far more than any proclamation or resolution of our government can hope to be.

  8. I certainly agree with Robert. It is my 4th year that I live and work in Karabakh. I think we should do all it takes to get the full victory here in Artsakh land. Our nation has much more resources to allocate here than it actually does and the people in Karabakh have struggles for simple human needs 24/7; these needs are taken care of in other countries and people take them as granted. The situation can not be sustained long if there is no improvements here or in Armenia. Armen

  9. Armensardar, Robert is a Turk who posts here to antagonize and propagandize.  Are you sure you agree with him?

  10. A hateful, AG Denying, Anti-Armenian Turk.
    In his make-believe, upside-down Bizzaro world, AG never happened, Armenians murdered millions of Turks, Artsakh was originally inhabited by mythical  ‘Azeris’ and Armenian  invaders pushed them out, and on, and on,…
    By ‘KARMA…IT’S A BITCH, NO!!’  he means the bad guys – that would be us in RobertWorld – are getting what’s coming to us…

  11. Why would this oil rich country of “Azerbaijan” need a loan from the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank to buy this relatively cheap outdated technology?
    This is peanuts for the royal family!
    Sounds more like a money-laundering project by low level bureaucrats from Sultan Aliyev’s tribe and US military-industrial complex.

  12. Avery jan.. you forgot to include Robert’s favorite line.. everything is due to DASHNAKS..lol he simply loves to use Dashnaks for every disorder, every commotion and of course for the Genocide… Is not that a joke? lol

    Vagharshak jan.. I believe Armensardar misused a name.. i have a feeling he meant to use someone else’s name instead of Robert… but that is just a hunch… it will have to be ARmenasardar to confirm that…


  13. Agree with Voskanapat :
    Things don’t add up in this well-publicized story. Azeri Military budget is US$3.1 Billion (with a B) for 2010/2011.
    $100 Million is chump change. They could have paid for it themselves without telling anyone or asking for a loan from anyone.
    The announced story is clearly not what’s actually taking place or will take place behind the curtain.
    A real military/intelligence satellite would never be announced or publicized.
    Azeris are pretty tight with Israel: Israel could have launched it for them quietly (for a handsome fee) – via their Pentagon relationship, or even via Europeans  – and nobody outside would know. Except perhaps Russian and Armenian intelligence services – and they wouldn’t publicize it either: you never tell anyone what you know about your enemy.

  14. you should know why by now, Robert. Armenians are emotional, excitable people. 

    Not cool and composed like you Turks.
    You know, the cool, composed guy Erdogan who almost had a brain aneurysm at Davos foaming at the mouth, screaming at  Peres.
    Not paranoid like Erdogan who orders the destruction of a nothing-statue in the middle of nowhere.
    Not self-confident like Turks who actually have a law on the books about “Insulting Turkishness”: BTW, what does that actually mean – ‘Turkishness’ ?
    Not paranoid delusional like Gul, who sued someone because he ‘insulted’ him by claiming Gul’s mother is Armenian.

  15. True that Avery….

    Robert  correct me if i am wrong… was it not YOU who got all excited after reading this.. so excited that you could not find any other words than .

    I think it was you who could not control your excitement……

  16. Azerbaijan makes 74 mil $ a day.Our military budget ,is the same as whole Armenian budget. our population is almost 2.5 mil more than Armiks.Gas Oil,Industry,we have Military factory’s .Israel gave us Drowns,we have already 9,next year we start to built our oun drowns.Plus our satellite will be used as military 100 %.i guarantee you  that .I mean if the war starts God Willing,Armenia have no chances ..zero….If you think about that,with out denial ,just face the truth……i mean if i be an Armenian i wouldn’t sleep at night ,i couldn’t eat ,because this is Real Problem,Im an Azeri Embassy staff menber .
    and belive me,after taking Garabax back,we countinue our march  toward Yerevan ,i mean taking anArmenian teretories as much as possible .We will atack from Garabax ,Nakichevan,We will unite Nakhichevan with Azerbaijan.

  17. 2009. report.Now the numbers,are double,some triple.  Azerbaijan has been trying to further develop its armed forces into a professional, well trained, and mobile military. Azerbaijan has been undergoing extensive modernization and capacity expanding programs, with the military budget increasing from around $300 million in 2005 to $2.46 billion in 2009.[11] The total armed forces number 56,840 men in the land forces, 7,900 men in the air force and air defence force, and 2,200 men in the navy.[12] There are also 19,500 personnel in the National Guard, State Border Service, and Internal Troops.[13] In addition, there are 300,000 former service personnel who have had military service in the last 15 years.[2] The military hardware of Azerbaijan consists of 220 main battle tanks, 595 armored combat vehicles and 270 artillery systems. The air force has about 106 aircraft and 35 helicopters.[

  18. The Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan directs domestic military supplies for Azerbaijan. It was established in 2005. The Defence Industries Ministry subsumed the State Department for Military Industry and for Armaments and the Military Science Center, each of which was formerly a separate agency within the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
    The defense industry has emerged as an autonomous entity with a growing defense production capability. The ministry is cooperating with the defense sectors of Ukraine, Belarus and Pakistan.[45] Along with other contracts, Azerbaijani defence industries and Turkish companies, Azerbaijan will produce 40mm revolver grenade launchers, 107mm and 122mm MLRS systems, Cobra 4×4 vehicles and joint modernization of BTR vehicles in Baku.[46][47][48][49]
    The major military companies of Azerbaijan are:

    RPE Iglim, aviation and shipbuilding
    Radiogurashdirma, communication means and radio-electronic
    RPE Neftgazavtomat, devices and automation systems for monitoring technological processes
    RPE Automatic Lines, non-standard equipment and products for application in electrotechnical and machine engineering
    Avia-Agregat, multi-purpose aviation equipment, various airdrome conditioners, universal container of board conductor, air-to-air radiators, fuel-oil, air-to-air heat exchangers and ventilators [50]

    In early 2008, reports indicated that an agreement with Turkey had been signed which would lead to Azerbaijan producing armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and small calibre artillery pieces.[51] Another 2008 report mentioned Azerbaijan’s desire to produce its own military aircraft and helicopters, but quoted a military expert as saying that it would be impossible to do so for the next five years.[52]
    According to the Azerbaijani APA agency, “Azerbaijan is in the negotiations with some other countries on helicopter production.” – said by the Minister of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan, Yavar Jamalov. He also mentioned that recently the Ukrainian Premier Minister offered Azerbaijan joint production of 100 helicopters[53] and it is possible. According to him, the Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan is in the negotiations with some other countries as well as Ukraine. The decision is expected to be soon.[54]

  19. Read My Verse after few years…and Remember Me…!

    All politicians are doing business
    All injected machines
    Will never be used 
    They will have percentage
    From each lot

    They aren’t keen to prosper their states
    They will buy diamond and gold for their lovers
    And build palaces in the west
    Enjoying most expensive drinks…

    Like all Arab tyrants did and still do
    Sooner or later all will disappear
    They will stay even without graves…

    See how Iraqi Saddam* ended
    No one expected…
    After many palaces he build 
    I am sure, he planned to live
    More than hundrad years…!

    * Saddam Hussain

  20. I heard ,Azeris, are building first-ever,one of a kind,EJECTOR-SEAT Helicopters. And if that’s not bad enough, they are also manufacturing, Tanks,equiped with one gear, called REVERSE. This way when they see the ,Artsakh Defense Forces, advancing towards them,all the ,Azeris, have to do is,put their tanks  in REVERSE and RUN, as in RUN FOREST RUUUN. ROFLMFAO. EFERIM BEH,Luca.

  21. Luca:

    With all the impressive Azeri  advantages you have listed, entering Yerevan would be a cakewalk for the Azeri Army.
    So, since you are an Azeri Embassy staff menber you might know: what’s stopping you from attacking now ? 
    Is it possible your military is not as confident of victory as you are ?
    Maybe they figure Artaskh’s Armenian tanks might enter Baku, like it almost happened in 1994 ?
    BTW: you remember Mr. Abülfaz Elçibay, right ? He promised to “hang the last Armenian in the central square of Stepanakert” and promised “to wash his feet in Lake Sevan”. You know what happened next, right ?  Mr. Elçibay ran to Nakhichevan before his Azeri buddies could hang him in the central square of Baku.

  22. 106 aircrafts? WOW. And who’s gonna fly them? 

     An Azeri pilot-trainee,asked his ,Russian, instructor,” Conmrade Instructor, I am ready to make my solo flight, but how do I bring the plane down?”
    The Russian replies,” You No worry,Haji Aliev, the Armenians will bring you down.”

  23. Hey Luca,

     I highly doubt you are an Embassy staff member, because you are extremely uninformed.  Maybe you are an azeri embassy janitorial staff member, but nothing more.
    Just check the origins of your name (if it indeed is Luca) before you try to imagine winning a war with ARmenia.

     re.  I mean if the war starts God Willing,Armenia have no chances ..zero…

    If the war starts then be prepared to return Nakhichevan to its rightful owners.  Sooner or later GODS will be willing!

  24. Vay yes dzer tsava tanem AR, Avery and Jay jan… BRAVO… LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED everything you wrote..

    Jay jan- I am laughing my head off when I read your comments.. THANK YOU so very much for the laugh.. Excellent….LOL tooooo funny.. you are a genius…

    Luca– in all the fancy shmancy words and statements (which makes no sense at all cause you know the truth) you remain a second class in the eyes of your beloved bro Turkey and no one special in the eyes of the Armenians… you exist because someone gave you the land you exist right now.. otherwise you would have been homeless if it was not for Soviet Union who gave away our lands to your sorry a*(*()(*)(*()*)(*)….  for you to speak your mind whatever goes on in ther but know you sound very hysterical and nonsensical…     toooo funny…


  25. Luca says,” He couldn’t eat, beecoz, he is Azeri Embassy STUFFED member.”  You can say that again,Haji boy. He’s so STUFFED with BS, last week he entered ,Azeri National Flatulance Championship. Halfway,through the race, he went to force a loud one, instead he POOPED in his pants and got disqualified from the contest. All that’s BECOZ he was STUFFED with BS.  ROFLMFAO.

    Gecmish Olsun Haji   : )

  26. LOLLLLLL.. Jay jan you are just tooo funny… lol mersi Jay jan..:) but you know what??.. it is the sad reality that these Turks who bolst and puff and huff with such high dreams and goals have no balls at all….hope they move to the other side of the darkness which is the bright light of justice, humanity, compassion, and understanding…


  27. THNX  Gayane jan,

    What ,Luca, fails to realize is that,during  the 1990-’94,Artsakh Liberation War, Turkey,stood side by side with the Azeris in assisting in the war.
    Turkey,helped the Azeris the best they could. They hoped the Azeris would easily defeat the Armenians (wrong again). The Turks bought military hardware from the dissolved,People’s Army of East Germany, for 800 million U.S. dollars and transfered it to Azerbaijan. A mass amount of volunteers from Turkey, members of Grey Wolves,high ranking officers with 10 Turkish retired generals were sent to Azerbaijan in 1992 to train and assist the Azeri Army. As a matter of fact, then Azeri President,Elcebey, made one of the retired Turkish general , Yashar Demirbulak, his personal military advisor. By  mid 1992, between 8-9000 Turkish soldiers and officers joined the Azeris to fight the Armenians. Over 8500 U.S.-made Stinger rockets were smuggled from Turkey into Azerbaijan in disguise of humanitarian aid. And in the summer of that year, despite all the effords made by Turkey, Azeris could not stop , Powerful Armenian advances. Our Artsakh HEROES, won one battle after another, and LIBERATED one village after another,HOORAH. During the LIBERATION of Sushi, the Artsakh forces captured ‘ Azeri Military Trophies’, Turkish,United States and NATO military arsenals, stored in numerous warehouses. ( And we want the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide?  Think again )   In December of 1993, a great and FINAL Azeri offensive began with 14,000 Turk volunteers, officers, generals and equipments, And again, under heavy counter-offensive by Artsakh Forces, the Azeris and their older brothers,Turkey, retreated with their Big noses bleeding. As a result of this defeat, In May of 1994, in Beshek, the Azeris got down on their knees and signed a ceasefire agreement, with blood running down their HOOK-NOSE. Today’s so-called,Neo-Ottoman, government is acting and playing the role of a local Superpower, (yeah right Kiss my VOR) the sad REALITY is that, it is the United States and the NATO that guarantees the SAFETY and SECURITY of ,Turkey. Without their support, the PARTITION of Turkey would begin. Now, going back to , Luca,  and his lenghty list of arsenals the Azeris are producing, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK HAJI, ONLY IN DUE TIME WE SHALL CONFISCATE THEM.

  28. Jay,
    If I use my own common sense, no sophisticated weaponry will be delivered to azerBYjanis tatars, due to their terrible military losses….nobody wants to give away their “real” military hardware and secrets to a tribal nation, where alioff preaching to the world every day. may be he knows this is why he is playing cat and mouse game with his tribal people in order to maintain his dictatorial oppressed regime over his people…I bet  Armenian military might is well known to NATO, otherwise Turks wouldn’t comment about Armenian army readiness and professionalism in South Caucasus, where they can keep all military activities of azerBYjan, Georgia and even Turkey on their sight, and I am sure that Russian Dumas are not stupid where they ratified and approved for time prolongation of Russian military base in Gumri Armenia…nobody really knows the Armenian military might in that region unless a stupid tatar start a war again..this time West will lose their dream pipeline and future nabucco pipeline construction… those territories may get into control of Russian Armenian and CIS forces and Iran will be a by-stander there…this will bring a disastrous out come for Neo-Ottoman dreamer and for Rajab Erdoghan..
    Russia’s surprised 6 days war over well prepared Mikheil Saakashveli forces gave a good lesson to West and NATO…this is why Turkey is sandwiched between US and Russia, Erdoghan do not know how to please neither Russians nor NATO!!and meanwhile Haji Luca having fun with us here..he is so naive, that I don’t want to break his hart, he must be a good janitor in azerBYjanis embassy in Washington DC!!


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