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Azerbaijan has been able to continue military and defense ties with a number of countries, prominently including Turkey, Russia and Israel but also a number of other countries such as Ukraine, the United States, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, South Africa and Brazil. Most of Azerbaijan's military equipment remains of Soviet or Russian origin, but Baku has sought to diversify its equipment holdings by signing larger weapons deals with Turkey and Israel.



In the past decade, Azerbaijan -- its coffers full from energy sales -- has embarked on a large-scale and ambitious military modernization program that has greatly expanded Baku's military budget and significantly enhanced the Azerbaijani military's combat capability. Many of Azerbaijan's shortcomings have been or are being addressed. There are still several areas where Baku could enhance its military capability by procuring key equipment.


Azerbaijan's focus remains on three key areas: Seeking a favorable military balance with Armenia; deterring action from the larger militaries of Russia and Iran; and securing its interests in the Caspian Sea. Given these objectives, the following equipment types are likely contenders for Azerbaijani procurement:


Because Azerbaijan's air force is dominated by Soviet or Russian equipment, straying far from equipment of Soviet or Russian origin would be prohibitively expensive and would greatly complicate logistics. Given Ukraine's significant aerospace industry and its desperate search for customers, Azerbaijan could purchase equipment from Kiev, including refurbished MiG-29s, Su-24s, Su-25s and R-73/R-27 missiles. This would add modernized but familiar equipment to the Azerbaijani air force that would enhance its ability to pursue its key goals.

Baku has cooperated with the United States and Turkey in modernizing Azerbaijan's airfield infrastructure and command and control networks. Azerbaijan could purchase modern radar sets and communication equipment from the United States, thereby furthering cooperation between the countries.

Azerbaijan has purchased a number of unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, including the Hermes 450. Given Baku's desire to enhance its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, further unmanned aerial vehicle deals with Israel and even the United States are plausible. If Turkey makes good progress on its own drone development, Baku could procure drones from Ankara as well.

Azerbaijan maintains a large artillery inventory, including multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled guns. Azerbaijan has sought to purchase the T-155 Firtina self-propelled gun from Turkey. The T-155 is a modern and capable system, and increased purchases of the weapon would significantly enhance Azerbaijan's artillery capability.

Baku could enhance the combat effectiveness of its armed forces by purchasing a large stock of modern night optical devices, body armor, thermal sights and tactical communication devices. The United States (as well as Israel and Turkey) could be key in providing such equipment and the associated training, which would increase the technical proficiency of Azerbaijan's forces at the small-unit level.

Azerbaijan's limited navy is tasked with operations in the Caspian Sea. Baku is attempting to upgrade the navy's capabilities, but a full-scale program is likely too expensive, with funds better allocated elsewhere. However, Azerbaijan could benefit from the purchase of capable and multipurpose maritime surveillance aircraft such as the P-3C Orion. With the United States currently upgrading to the P-8 Poseidon, it could be an opportune time, politics permitting, for Azerbaijan to purchase a small number of these capable aircraft from the United States to enhance Baku's reach over the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan could also consider purchasing other military equipment, such as surface-to-air missile systems, tube artillery and main battle tanks to bolster its already sizable holdings. The equipment mentioned above would help in areas where Azerbaijan is particularly lacking or would be of greater priority due to the specific threats Azerbaijan faces.




Before the war with Russia in 2008, the Georgian military was largely structured around fighting low-level militant groups in regions that wanted to break away. The Russo-Georgian war resulted in a loss of territory and severe damage to the military. Georgia has since been focused on rebuilding its military with a new strategic threat in mind: further Russian aggression. The 2008 war highlighted several key deficiencies that Georgia had relative to the Russian military, and these have become the areas of emphasis for equipment procurement.



Georgia's goal is to build a military that can create losses for Russian forces, but Tbilisi knows that it does not have the resources to build a military whose fighting ability is on par with Russia's. The Georgians need systems and training that directly imperil Russia's specific relative strengths, but they must be able to attain, maintain and use them with an economy of resources.


Russia's air power dominated Georgia's in 2008. Georgia does not have the resources to create an air fleet as effective as Russia's, but surface-to-air missiles would fit Tbilisi's needs. The United States and Israel have an assortment of layered systems, from man-portable air defense systems to high-altitude large envelope interceptors and associated radars that would improve Georgia's current air defense capabilities.

Georgian armor is old and limited in quantity. Anti-tank guided missiles, both man-portable and vehicle mounted, would help Georgian forces create significant losses for Russian forces. Georgia's best anti-tank guided missile currently is the AT-5 Spandrel. Any modern system would immediately increase Georgia's ability to engage Russian reactive armor protection systems on their main battle tanks.

Georgia has limitations across the board in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Unmanned aerial vehicles, radios of all types, secure communication devices or access to satellite intelligence -- or any intelligence across the electronic spectrum -- would greatly benefit Georgian forces. Knowing where and how the Georgians could use what little force they have in the most effective way would help immensely.

Since 2008, Russia has pressured all third parties to prevent defense exports to Georgia. Tbilisi has responded by trying to produce some of its own equipment, such as the Didgori Protected Patrol Vehicle and various small arms. Any support for Georgia's defense sector, such as technology transfers, co-production or financing, would help improve this nascent capability.

A majority of the training that Georgia has received from NATO countries has been focused at the company level for antiterrorism operations in preparation for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This training has little utility in dealing with a conventional threat from Russia. Training on the coordination needed to respond to a large-scale mobilization would address the Russian threat much more aptly.

Georgia could enhance the combat effectiveness of its armed forces significantly by purchasing a large stock of modern night optical devices, body armor, thermal sights or any other tactical equipment that improves individual soldiers' combat capability.

Though the naval threat is a lower priority for Tbilisi, Russia's Black Sea Fleet was used with some potency in 2008. Georgia does not even maintain a navy anymore because all remaining ships have been handed over to the coast guard, a tiny fleet operating as an interdiction and enforcement element. Anti-ship missiles that can prevent or severely degrade an amphibious operation along Georgia's coast would complicate matters for Russian military planners.



JUNE 18, 2014 | 0359  





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