Azerbaijan keeps producing military hardware to address national and international demand
Azerbaijan recorded a 5.6 % year-over-year increase in military production in 2019 as the country's defense output exceeded $150 million, Ilham Karimli reports. The overall value of defensive output last year stood at $153.9 million compared to $145.8 million in 2018, according to government data published by Interfax Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan exports locally-made ammunition, modern small arms, UAVs, and armored vehicles to more than 10 countries, and the country's defense enterprises produce more than 700 items and their components.
Gurza armored patrol vehicle made in Azerbaijan (Picture source: ordu.az)
Azerbaijan's military ranks 64 globally among 138 countries in military strength, while the country leads the South Caucasus region in this category, according to Global Firepower's 2020 rankings. Georgia and Armenia rank 82 and 84, respectively. In 2019, the development work at the factories of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense Industry covered 112 products, while it was recommended that 9 types of products are put into service as preparation for production has already been completed. Currently, the ministry owns a robust production network that includes 23 different manufacturing units stationed across Azerbaijan. Domestic production portfolio includes 1,200 arms of various segments, such as Istiglal and Mubariz-12.7 anti-materiel rifles, Yirtiji-7.62, Yalguzag and Shimshak sniper rifles, UP-7.62 and HP-7.6v submachine guns – all of which are in line with NATO standards.
The ministry, together with the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, put several weapons into serial production in recent years, including the national Yalguzag sniper rifles branded of 7,62-mm caliber, a special-purpose machine gun of 7,62-mm caliber, an automatic grenade launcher of 30-mm caliber, a manual grenade launcher of 40-mm caliber, as well as the hand grenade of F-1 type and mines of both M-6 and M-12 types.
Azerbaijan also manufactures the Gurza armored patrol vehicle and Tufan mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle, the TR-107 and TRB-107 ground-to-ground missiles and the Zarba attack UAV – known as the “kamikaze drone”, which are considered to be state-of-the-art systems.
In addition to supplying Azerbaijan's national army, the country's Deputy Minister of Defence Industry Yahya Musayev said a certain portion of the domestically made weapons, including various types of ammunition, modern rifle and artillery weapons, armored vehicles and special purpose patrol vehicles, are exported to foreign markets.
Azerbaijan has been producing and exporting weapons to foreign countries since 2013, including the NATO member states such as the U.S. and Turkey, as well as Russia, Belarus, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and others. In 2016, the total volume of arms sales topped $120 million.
Rashad Suleymanov, a Baku-based military expert, told AzVision.az the purchase of Azerbaijan-made weapons by the U.S. military was first agreed to during the Special Operation Forces Exhibition in Jordan, adding that Baku began exporting to the U.S. back in 2013. “Azerbaijan exports grenade launchers, mortars, mortar ammunition and some optical devices to the United States,” Suleymanov said. "A representative of one of the U.S. [defense] companies noted that Azerbaijan's RPG-7V-2 grenade launchers are superior to those produced by the Bulgarian company Arsenal for its quality. The United States is also a supplier of these weapons to some countries. Some of these weapons remain in the United States, while others are sold to an allied country. Exports are made in the name of the United States," he added.