Equipping Armenia to Defend Itself

Photo: MoD of Armenia, March 13, 2021

It’s been over a year and a half since Pashinyan dragged Armenia into catastrophe in the 44-day war. Azerbaijani soldiers continue to occupy parts of Armenia and Artsakh and attack their people. Yet, the Pashinyan regime shows little signs of having learned from its egregious mistakes and rebuilding the Armenian military accordingly.

In this article, I’ll outline some arms acquisitions that should be heavily considered for defending against Azerbaijan. If Russian peacekeepers leave the borders of Armenia and Artsakh, it will be up to us to prevent another Armenian Genocide.

The survival of a nation cannot be left to the mercy of a single allied government. Our resounding victory is completely attainable, but we have urgent, hard work to do.

Tor 

When Azerbaijan started the 44-day war, the Armenian military was equipped with a small number of high-quality Russian Tor-M2KM anti-aircraft systems. These systems registered outstanding successes throughout the course of the war.

According to Captain Sergey Mkrtchyan, who operated a Tor during the war, a single Armenian Tor division “in the course of 44 days destroyed 87 aircraft, including three planes, two helicopters, four Bayraktar-type unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as other aircraft.”

The survival of a nation cannot be left to the mercy of a single allied government.

Former President Serzh Sargsyan revealed in a post-war interview that Armenia was supposed to receive three batches of the Tor system, but instead received only one, because the Pashinyan administration decided not to carry out the Sargysan administration’s arms acquisition program.

How many young men died and how much of our homeland was lost needlessly because of this decision? These are the poison fruits of the 2018 western-supported regime change.

It’s urgent that the Pashinyan regime be replaced by one that has the desire and skillset to defend the Armenian people. And when such leadership comes into place, the acquisition of additional units of the Tor system should be seriously examined based on their effectiveness in the 44-day war. 

Pantsir

The Pantsir medium-range anti-aircraft system should also be strongly considered. In both Libya and Syria, the Pantsir has reportedly scored repeated successes shooting down Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drones, which were used against Artsakh in 2020.

According to the site “Lost Armour,” which claims to catalog destroyed military vehicles based on video and photo evidence, Turkey lost at least 19 TB-2 drones and a number of other drones in Libya. Furthermore, Turkey lost four TB-2 drones, two Anka-S drones and other aircraft in Syria.

Both the Libyan National Army and Syrian Arab Army were in possession of Pantsir systems, which were reportedly the weapon responsible for many of the destroyed Turkish drones.

Don’t fear the drone boogeyman. Toil and drudge to replace the capitulation regime in Armenia with one that actually fights for Armenia, and it will rain scrap metal, God willing.

Ironically, Armenia’s greatest weapon against Azerbaijan’s drones may not be an anti-aircraft weapon at all. As I noted in a prior article, when the war began, Armenia already possessed four types of ground-to-ground missiles and rockets that have the range to reach Azerbaijani airfields and destroy military aircraft on the ground: Smerch, Scud, Tochka and Iskander.

Why didn’t Pashinyan exercise this option during the 44-day war? Why did he let thousands die, including women and children? Why did he let our homeland of thousands of years be stripped from us, while his government constantly told us we would win?

If the Armenian people restore true leaders to the government, a preemptive strike with these missiles can go a long way to help win the next war before it even begins. It worked for Israel. In the Six-Day War, “Israel staged a sudden preemptive air assault that destroyed more than 90 percent [sic] Egypt’s air force on the tarmac.”

Orlan-10

The Russian Orlan-10 drone has been used in the Donbass and in Syria, as well as in the 44-day war. In the final days of the conflict, videos emerged of what were apparently Armenian Orlan-10 drones coordinating with artillery to destroy invading hostiles.

The Orlan-10 is used for reconnaissance, target-finding for artillery and electronic warfare. According to one source, an Orlan-10 drone costs between $87,000 and $120,000.

For the sake of simplicity, suppose the price of an Orlan-10 drone is $100,000. Pashinyan notoriously wasted approximately $100 million on four SU-30 jets without missiles. The Armenian government could have purchased a staggering 1,000 Orlan-10 drones or other cost-effective assets with these wasted resources.

In fact, President Sargsyan had a similar idea. Sargsyan stated in an interview that his administration had drafted a multi-year plan to acquire 2,500 drones by the year 2024, consisting of a combination of reconnaissance and attack drones, among other weaponry.

Slightly over 1,000 of these 2,500 drones were to be acquired between 2018 and 2020. After the 2018 regime change that brought Pashinyan to power, these plans were not fulfilled.

What is to be done?

I’ve briefly presented three systems that may prove useful in defending Armenia: Tor, Pantsir and Orlan-10. There are many more possibilities that cannot be covered in a single article.

Further still, weapons acquisitions are only one part of an effective defense. There are also the questions of leadership, training, infrastructure, fortifications, etc.

We must immediately rid ourselves of Pashinyan and labor alongside true leadership to rebuild our military and society. If we do so, not only will we be able to defend ourselves, but we can also be a victorious people again as we were not long ago. 

Gor Mkrtchian

Gor Mkrtchian

Gor Mkrtchian is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University. He received a BA in political science from Yale University. Gor is also a contributor to the Mises Wire.
Gor Mkrtchian

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21 Comments

  1. An excellent article but it leaves me on hold with the major dependency of of a new government. Since it is such a large assumption, how can this be accomplished without sacrificing democratic institutions? The Armenian people voted less a year ago and gave Pashinyan power…after the devastating loss.
    I agree with the military options you outlined and like many are angry that we did not prevail, but how does the leadership question get resolved?

    • Both the article and your comment beg a question. In the aftermath of the first Karabakh war, why did we not relentlessly press our advantage like the Azeris have been doing since they won the the 44 day war? If we had, it seems that the outcome would have been more advantageous than the current situation.

  2. Oh brother here we go again with a regular dose of anti-Armenian government propaganda. This article is published on April 6, 2022, and by now the world has witnessed (including Gor Mkrtchian presumably)the total carnage that Ukrainian forces have inflicted on the Russian army.

    The much-touted “modern” Russian military hardware such as Tor/Pantsir/Orlan-10 described by Mr.Mkrtchian has been successful only in destroying buildings and killing civilians…we have seen the result, we have also seen how the Turkish Bayraktar Drones, along with REAL practical weapons provided by the West, have effectively crushed the Russian ground forces…Such Western weapons, including highly effective Israeli drones, were used successfully against the Armenian forces who were equipped with only Russian arms in the 44-day war.

    The author also excludes the destructive Russian 5th column, alive and well in the ranks of High Command of the Armenian army, which was put to “good” use to ensure Armenian defeat…in the same way the Armenian Bolsheviks behaved to successfully defeat the 1st Armenian Republic in 1920.

    What is the real hidden purpose of this article? who’s interests is Mr. Mkrtchian
    serving? In short: Who is he trying to fool?

    • You are wrong I’m Armenian from USA and Russia is not losing to Ukraine. Its us military secretly destroying Russia with weapons and giving credit to Ukraine. Something Azerbaijan won’t receive from USA is the help Ukraine is getting. You cannot compare them

  3. I can understand that Pashinyan is a coward, but he seems to be acting very secretively and treasonably. He has no more backbone than a jellyfish it seems. He will cede Artsakh and Syunik at anytime, which will lead to the isolation and end of Armenia proper. Russia has so much on lts plate at the moment that it will not understand that it is impossible for Artsakhians to be controlled IN ANY WAY by the savage dictator next door. Aliyev has less morals than a dog, he like many Turkic people, seem to adore bullying and torturing those who appear weaker.

  4. Its ironic that you start your article by blaming Pashinyan for everything happened during the 44 day war and no accountability of what happened before he came to power. The people of Armenia voted for him twice, and the second time after the humiliating loss. Are you saying the people of Armenia don’t know what is best for them and you living in Texas know better?

    • Vahe,

      A Western fairytale like “democracy” will never work for a people like Armenians. The two presidential votes you mentioned, one of them after the “humiliating loss” as you said, is a loud testimony of it. Democracy is how we got to where we are. Wake up…

  5. This is an excellent report by Gor Mkrtchian. Unfortunately, however, this report will fall on deaf ears in Yerevan because Nikol’s Western/Turkish financed regime, yes, the one that was elected twice because of that wonderful thing called democracy, is disinterested in Armenia’s defense. But, as usual, it will all be Russia’s fault according to some characters in our society because some Armenians expect Russians to be more pro-Armenia than Armenians themselves…

  6. For 30 years the corrupt oligarchs like Serg & Robert who are estimated to worth $400M USD Plus each raped and pillaged, their cronies built palaces some of which cost over $10M USD just to build, and here you blame Nikol for everything.Nikol offered some hope to Armenians, and even though I blame him for the war, which he is responsible for, his naivety and lack of diplomatic skills, along with his anti Russian stance which is still circulating in Russia by way of Youtube videos also alienated Russia as an ally, he should step down immediately before he completely destroys the future of our nation, along with our FM Ararat who is basically a sheep sent to deal wolves & bears.
    The previous governments had 30 years to do a lot, yet they did ZERO and plundered billions, had they spend half of what they stole and invested it in technology and weapons, we would not be in the position we are today.

  7. — ¿¿ Que es armenia ?? ; Un pais con 1. 500. 500 habitantes aproximadamente ; Rodeado de tres fronteras azeries y musulmanes fundamentalistas , y una frontera religiosa con piel de lobo ; Con un garante asesino y genocida putinista , ¿ que mas decir y pretender ? …

  8. Régime change is never an option for a small and poor country lacking resources and a cooperative mindset to overcome threats from all directions. Continued reliance on Russia’s good will for protection is not a sustainable option. If you believe Russia does what it does because of “ the Armenian black eyes” think again , there will be a price to pay someday, somehow and when you are least expecting.
    Solution to the divisive Armenian DNA is to educate the political parties to learn about what a national interest means first and how to work together internally to achieve a solidarity for survival and protection. Simultaneously to appear externally as divided as our enemies and others believe that we always are.
    Armenia needs to develop it’s own defense industry, it’s own tech warfare infrastructure, and capability to defend itself with technology and advances in warfare. Armenians built the Mig, no reason to stop now.
    Generous donations should be directed to Defense first , let the NGOs deal with internal development issues.
    “Here ends the reading”

    • Ara,

      We Armenians love fairytales, don’t we? The Mig line of warplanes was built by the Russian/Soviet system, a system that allowed peasants from Armenia to reach their potential. A person like a Mikoyan in Armenia society would have been a no one. The same goes for all the other greats – Khachaturyan, Saryan, Hambartsumyan, etc.
      What “education” are you talking about when the only things that got developed in Armenia during the “independence” period is restaurants, casinos, adults clubs and American style sitcoms?
      Patriotism and Armenian culture were flourishing during the Soviet period. Look at the sad state of Armenia now – it resembles a third world slum.
      Did you make the same claim about “regime change” when Nikol’s Western and Turkish financed regime were doing a “regime change” in 2018?
      It is well known that Russia is Armenia’s protector for geostrategic reasons.
      The good news is, this will not change for well into the foreseeable future. Without Russia, Armenia won’t survived a day in a place like the South Caucasus.
      A real defense industry requires thousands of top notch scientists and hundreds of billions of dollars – both of which Armenia does not have and will not have for well into the foreseeable future.
      Let’s please stop with the fantasies…

    • Armenia always will pay price untill armenians realize we have to move armenia rebuild the our hayrenik like jews does Isreal otherwise keep dreaming americans and russians will create alliance will attack turks and Iran will give us our occupied lands plus gift area from georgia and neighbour assyria in ıraq nd syria beyond the childish dream nobody will night fight for us while armenians even wont prefer vacation and living in armenia invest in armenia move to armenia if lebanese armenians prefer to move west because of life quality dont expect help from eu and west even while having russian bases with good relations with Iran which ones totally opposite to western democracy,armenians please read how us nat0 west eu un destroyed serbia for muslim bosnians and albanians then think about how useless religion diplomacy in west compared to benefits and interest.

    • Ara,

      We Armenians love our fairytales, don’t we? The “Mig” line of warplanes was built by the Russian/Soviet system, a system that allowed peasants from Armenia to reach their potential. A person like a Mikoyan in Armenia society would have been a no one. The same goes for all the other greats – Khachaturyan, Saryan, Hambartsumyan, Abovyan, etc…
      What “education” are you talking about when the only things that got developed in Armenia during the “independence” period is restaurants, casinos, adults clubs and American style sitcoms?…
      Patriotism and Armenian culture were flourishing during the Soviet period. Look at the sad state of Armenia now – it resembles a third world slum…
      Did you make the same claim about “regime change” when Nikol’s Western and Turkish financed regime were doing a “regime change” in 2018?…
      It is well known that Russia is Armenia’s protector for geostrategic reasons. The good news is, this will not change for well into the foreseeable future. Without Russia, Armenia won’t survive a day in a place like the South Caucasus…
      A real defense industry requires thousands of top notch scientists and hundreds of billions of dollars – both of which Armenia does not have and will not have for well into the foreseeable future…
      Let’s therefore please stop with the fantasies…

  9. This article is good as far as describing potential equipment that Armenians could use to defend themselves. But as the author points out at the very end of the article, it is only a part of an overall defense strategy. The equipment that he cites are being used today by Russians in the Ukraine war, but they are having major problems in achieving their goals. The US always had technical superiority in their wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan but clearly failed to achieve their political objectives. For a small country like Armenia, it has to use all elements (military, political, diplomatic, economic, diaspora) in defense of the country. Instead, Armenian governments and people over a period of twenty five years were indulgent, corrupt, immature and self deluding about their enemies (we’ll have tea in Baku).
    One small silver lining from the defeat of 2020 is that it may wake up Armenians from their stupor and begin the hard work; this will take at least a generation to start putting the house in order.

  10. Russia also betrayed Armenia and the CSTO is violating its defense agreements with Armenia by allowing Azeris to attack and occupy Armenia. And Russia/CSTO allowed Turkish F16s to shoot down Armenian planes.

    Let’s not forget that Armenia is under constant pressure from the treasonous Russians.

    Just because Armenia has a weapon does not mean that Russia will allow Armenia to use it in every circumstance.

    Does Russia allow Armenia to buy just any foreign weapons it wants? I doubt it.

    Everything Armenia does is subject to Russian OK.

    Remember when Russia took total control of the Iran – Armenia gas pipeline and narrowed it?

    Remember when Russia stopped Serge from singing with the EU?

    Russia wants a WEAK Armenia so as to control it. Do we understand this?

  11. Pashinyan was created to fool the Armenians in Artsakh, Armenia, and the diaspora. Armenians were hopeful. True he succeeded in unifying the nation. Yet, once the jubilation and fake promises to punish oligarchs, Kocharyan, Sarkissyan, and the like subsided, came the Turkish/azeri/Israeli 44 day attack on the Armenian nation This time Pashinyan succeeded not just losing the vibrant Armenian men and women, an important part of Artsakh, he divided Artsakh from Armenia, Armenia from the diaspora, and the diaspora into several dysfunctioning units. The ones who benefited from it all are his own family, those who walked with him from Gumri to Yerevan 2018, and the ex president Armen Sarkisian. Talk is free, creating defensive and offensive weapons is not free. Even the monetary aid from big powers is not free… Are we certain any more how he was able to be re-elected in the atmosphere of death, defeat, loss of land, and all. Time for the Armenians to reunite with foresight learning from past and current mistakes.

  12. Incredibly naive interpretation of how effective the Armenian owned Russian built air defense systems (like Tor) were during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabagh war. For example, the planes shot down by these systems were mainly Azeri converted Antonovs, which were used as decoys to identify Armenian air defense systems (like Tor and S-300)…the reality is, that these outdated Russian air defense systems were designed for fast flying jet planes…it did not work in Lybia, it did not work in Syria and it definitely did not work in Nagorno-Karabagh in downing Turkish or Israeli built drones…it’s time for Armenia to look for effective alternatives, hopefully homebuilt drone solutions, rather than acquire more outdated Russian technology at discount prices.

  13. (Corrected comment)

    In what I assume to have been a rushed analysis, it’s clear the author did not take enough time to do sufficient research to verify certain claims within the article. Let us compare Serj’s ridiculous claim that the Armenian forces only received and had one TOR batch quote to Secretary of the Security Council of Artsakh and former Commander of the Armenian Armed Forces from the first war, Samvel Babayan’s renown post-war interview.

    “Before Pashinyan came to power, the Armenian experts concluded that TORs were the “saviors” and asked Serj to purchase them. Serj took a $200 million loan and ordered TOR missile units from Russia. Russia was supposed to deliver ~18-24 TOR units. When the war began, 6 of them were stationed in Artsakh. 4 of those 6 were destroyed with drones. Russia sent another 6 units on November 2nd. The question is, why didn’t Russia send all 12 sooner?” – Samvel Babayan translated by AR David from Source, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuUWIb2H7-Q&feature=youtu.be

    The author of this article who believes Serj’s claim concludes that “And when such leadership comes into place, the acquisition of additional units of the Tor system should be seriously examined based on their effectiveness in the 44-day war.”

    So either “because the Pashinyan administration decided not to carry out the Sargysan administration’s arms acquisition program” is true or “Russia sent another 6 units on November 2nd. The question is, why didn’t Russia send all 12 sooner?” is true.

    The current secretary of the security council of Artsakh (Babayan) is a much more valid and trustworthy source on how many TOR batches we had ordered than an ex-president will not always tell the truth for personal political clout and gain.

  14. The main and whole purpose of this post was to discredit and blame everything on Pashinyan instead of talking about the Weapons Armenia will get. Misleading title. Perhaps the writer could go to Armenia and defend it instead of talking his mind off.

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