Israel’s Massive Supply of Sophisticated Weapons to Azerbaijan

On March 5, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper published an astounding article titled, “92 Flights from Israeli Base Reveal Arms Exports to Azerbaijan.”

The article reported that on March 2, Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Airlines’ cargo plane landed in Israel’s Ovda military airport. Two hours later, it returned to Baku via Turkey and the Georgian Republic. In the last seven years, this is the 92nd cargo flight from Baku to Ovda, the only airfield in Israel that is allowed to export explosives. These military shipments increased substantially during Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia/Artsakh in 2016, 2020, 2021 and 2022. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has described Israel’s covert relations with Azerbaijan as being like an iceberg – nine-tenths of it is below the surface.

Israel supplies almost 70-percent of Azerbaijan’s weapons and in return receives about half of its imported oil. Haaretz quoted foreign media sources disclosing: “Azerbaijan has allowed the Mossad [Israel’s intelligence agency] to set up a forward branch [in Azerbaijan] to monitor what is happening in Iran, Azerbaijan’s neighbor to the south, and has even prepared an airfield intended to aid Israel in case it decides to attack Iranian nuclear sites. Reports from two years ago stated that the Mossad agents who stole the Iranian nuclear archive smuggled it to Israel via Azerbaijan. According to official reports from Azerbaijan, over the years Israel has sold it the most advanced weapons systems, including ballistic missiles, air defense and electronic warfare systems, kamikaze drones and more.”

Haaretz revealed that Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Airlines “operates three weekly flights between Baku and [Israel’s] Ben-Gurion International Airport with Boeing 747 cargo freighters.” In addition, some Eastern European countries circumvent the ban on the sale of weapons to Azerbaijan by shipping them via Israel.

The restriction of the sale of weapons by Europe and the United States to Armenia and Azerbaijan created an opportunity for Israel to earn billions of dollars in weapons’ sales to Azerbaijan.

Haaretz reported that “Israel has exported a very wide range of weapons to the country [Azerbaijan] – starting with Tavor assault rifles all the way to the most sophisticated systems such as radar, air defense, antitank missiles, ballistic missiles, ships and a wide range of drones, both for intelligence and attack purposes. Israeli companies have also supplied advanced spy tech, such as communications monitoring systems from Verint and the Pegasus spyware from the NSO Group – tools that were used against journalists, the LGBT community and human rights activists in Azerbaijan, too.”

The Stockholm International Peace Institute wrote: “Israel’s defense exports to Azerbaijan began in 2005 with the sale of the Lynx multiple launch rocket systems by Israel Military Industries (IMI Systems), which has a range of 150 kilometers (92 miles). IMI, which was acquired by Elbit Systems in 2018, also supplied LAR-160 light artillery rockets with a range of 45 kilometers, which, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, were used by Azerbaijan to fire banned cluster munitions at residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh,” even though Israel and 123 other countries have banned the use of cluster bombs.

Haaretz reported: “In 2007, Azerbaijan signed a contract to buy four intelligence-gathering drones from Aeronautics Defense Systems. It was the first deal of many. In 2008 it purchased 10 Hermes 450 drones from Elbit Systems and 100 Spike antitank missiles produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and in 2010 it bought another 10 intelligence-gathering drones. Soltam Systems, owned by Elbit, sold it ATMOS self-propelled guns and 120-millimeter Cardom mortars, and in 2017 Azerbaijan’s arsenal was supplemented with the more advanced Hanit mortars. According to the telegram leaked in Wikileaks, a sale of advanced communications equipment from Tadiran was also signed in 2008.”

According to Haaretz, “Israel and Azerbaijan took their relationship up a level in 2011 with a huge $1.6 billion deal that included a battery of Barak missiles for intercepting aircraft and missiles, as well as Searcher and Heron drones from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It was reported that near the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, a Barak battery shot down an Iskander ballistic missile launched by Armenia. Aeronautics Defense Systems also began cooperating with the local arms industry in Azerbaijan, where some of the 100 Orbiter kamikaze (loitering munitions) drones were produced – drones that Azerbaijan’s defense minister called ‘a nightmare for the Armenian army.’”

In 2021, “an indictment was filed against [Israel’s] Aeronautics Defense Systems for violating the law regulating defense exports in its dealing with one of its most prominent clients. A court-imposed gag order prevents the publication of further details. A project to modernize the Azerbaijani army’s tanks began in the early 2010s. Elbit Systems upgraded and equipped the old Soviet T-72 models with new protective gear to enhance the tanks’ and their crews’ survivability, as well as fast and precise target acquisition and fire control systems. The upgraded tanks, known as Aslan (Lion), starred in the 2013 military parade. Azerbaijan’s navy was reinforced in 2013 with six patrol ships based on the Israel Navy’s Sa’ar 4.5-class missile boats, produced by Israel Shipyards and carrying the naval version of the Spike missiles, along with six Shaldag MK V patrol boats with Rafael’s Typhoon gun mounts and Spike missile systems. Azerbaijan’s navy also bought 100 Lahat antitank guided missiles.”

In 2014, “Azerbaijan ordered the first 100 Harop kamikaze drones from IAI, which were a critical tool in later rounds of fighting. Azerbaijan also purchased two advanced radar systems for aerial warning and defense from IAI subsidiary Elta that same year…. Two years later, Azerbaijan bought another 250 SkyStriker kamikaze drones from Elbit Systems. Many videos from the areas of fighting showed Israeli drones attacking Armenian forces…. In 2016, during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Baku, Aliyev revealed that contracts had already been signed between the two countries for the purchase of some $5 billion in ‘defensive equipment.’ In 2017, Azerbaijan purchased advanced Hermes 900 drones from Elbit Systems and LORA ballistic missiles from IAI, with a range of 430 kilometers. In 2018, Aliyev inaugurated the base where the LORA missiles are deployed, at a distance of about 430 kilometers from Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. During the war in 2020, at least one LORA missile was launched, and according to reports it hit a bridge that Armenia used to supply arms and equipment to its forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. More advanced Spike missiles were sent in 2019 and 2020.”

It is appalling that the descendants of the Holocaust are supplying such massive lethal weapons to Azerbaijan to kill the descendants of the Armenian Genocide.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

4 Comments

  1. Haaretz is a Liberal and anti Netanyahu and to a lesser extent Azerbaijan newspaper that has a soft spot for Armenia

  2. lf US Nato lsrael will grant us safety Armenia should minimize turn back to lran because armenia more trustable than azerbaijan western civilzation war on against lran also alot of armenians in lran suffer discrimination and most of them already fled there is nothing for armenians in lran our way should be with USA Nato lsrael not lran russia turkey arab states.

  3. Isreal should be bombed and demilitrazized for funding terrorist iskamic nations to kill or hurt Armenia with the help of us tax dollars.

    US should stop funding terrorist nations like isreal

  4. “…and in return receives about half of its imported oil.”
    Really? And how much is that? no numbers of course.

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