Armenia Reportedly Buys Chinese Rockets

AR1_MLRS_1 The AR1A was presented for the first time to the public at the International Defence Exhibition IDEX 2009. The New Norinco AR1A 300 mm Multiple Rocket Launcher Systems is an offensive and concurrently defence weapon. AR1A 300 mm MRLS can execute fire missions normally by battalion or battery as its basic firing unit, yet it can also execute fire missions autonomously by single launcher with advanced meteorological survey systems, command & control system and support system, effective fire assault and neutralization of various ground targets can be implemented. This is the export version of the PHL03. The PHL03 is already be in service in the Chinese army (PLA Peoples Liberation Army).

Armenia Reportedly Buys Chinese Rockets

Joshua Kucera, Eurasianet.org, August 20, 2013

Armenia has reportedly bought long-range rockets from China, in what would be both an escalation of the rocket race between Armenia and Azerbaijan and a dramatic entry of China into the regional conflicts of the South Caucasus. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported:

Armenia has acquired Chinese multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of up to 130 kilometers, a military source in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source declined to specify the quantity of the AR1A systems obtained the Armenian military and the dates of their delivery or give other details of the alleged acquisition.

The Ministry of Defense declined to confirm or deny the report, but that’s not unusual for Armenia’s secretive MoD So assuming the report is true, how should we interpret it?

In an analysis for Regnum.ru, David Arutyunov puts it in the context of Azerbaijan’s recent purchase of Russian Smerch multiple-rocket launch systems, of which the Chinese AR1A are an upgraded version (for example, the Chinese rockets have a range of 130 kilometers, versus 90 kilometers for the Smerch). “A tendency is noticeable over the last decade in which Azerbaijan and Armenia are giving priority in their strategy of arms development to MRLS of great distance and caliber,” he writes. And those systems, he notes, would be useful for attacking not just military formations but also strategic economic sites.

Azerbaijan’s press seems to have largely ignored the news, but one military expert quoted by Day.az didn’t try to hide his contempt:

“They bought MRLSs from China? For God’s sake. Let them buy as many as they want.” Thus responded Azerbaijani military expert Uzeir Djafarov to this news…

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