How Azerbaijan’s drone power brought Armenia to its knees. Is India ready for modern warfare?
The six weeks of devastating war between two former soviet states-Azerbaijan and Armenia-has ended in the decisive defeat of Yerevan forcing it to give up vast swathes of territories in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh to Baku.
With the two sides agreeing to a ceasefire on the terms set by Azerbaijan, there is a pall of gloom over in Armenia over the loss of territories and utter defeat at the hands of the enemy they defeated in the war in the 1990s. What turned the tables in favour of Azerbaijan after two decades is the best use of combat-proven Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or the drones on the battlefield.
Turkish and Israeli ‘Kamikaze’ drones have played a key role in giving the upper hand to Azeri forces in targeting Armenian artillery, air defences, armoured personnel carriers, tanks and troops.
In a way, the Armenian forces and other military assets were sitting ducks for the Azeri drones. No doubt, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has redefined the future of modern warfare with less human contact and more of airpower especially the drone power.
Game changing Turkish combat drones
Azerbaijan’s use of Turkish made Bayraktar TB2 had the deadliest effect on the ‘enemy’ troops. With deep pockets thanks to its oil and gas, Baku purchased these Bayraktar combat drones from Ankara earlier this year apart from purchasing other modern military assets to replace its old soviet made arsenal. The Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude, long-range tactical drone and is capable of performing reconnaissance and intelligence missions. These Turkish drones are combat-proven in a sense they had been extensively used by Ankara in Syria’s Idlib and in Libya against the forces of General Khalifa Haftar. Turkey has made great advancement in the defence sector with special focus on the drone industry. Though Turkish drones are not as hi-tech as US ones but they have shown huge capabilities to cause human and material damage against rivals.
In October, Canada’s Bombardier Recreational Products halted the supply of engines and other parts to Turkey after reports that these drones were being used by Azeri forces against Armenia. However, Turkey has now claimed it has domestically developed the engine and other parts used for the use in the drones.
Israeli’s ‘loitering’ drones
Not only Turkish drones, Baku also took the help of Israel who supplied it with its Kamikaze or ‘loitering’ drones. The drones have 5-6 hours of endurance and carry a light payload to self-destruct on enemy targets. Reports in the western media suggest that Azerbaijan had used two types of Israeli drones identified-Harop and Orbiter 1K. Harop is manufactured by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Another drone is Orbiter 1K which carries a payload of 3kgs.
Turkey-Pakistan ‘bonhomie’ and China’s increased drone power
Pakistan already has close cooperation with China and has its access to some of its weapons systems. With Turkey getting more closer to Pakistan with regard to Kashmir, this is highly likely that Ankara may support Islamabad with its advanced drones. Should this be a cause of concern for New Delhi?
“If Islamabad gets these drones through fast routes (from Turkey) then certainly it will have an advantage over India in certain areas. And it can have a lot of impact on the Line of Control (LoC) or in other depth areas because the defences of depth areas are always weaker. And I believe that there should be no problem for India to develop such drones if we invest heavily in research and development. India was promised 10 armed drones by Israel in 2016 but somehow that deal has not materialised. The US was also supposed to sell us armed drones. With the signing of BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement), we can hope that modern drones with all necessary satellite navigation and surveillance links should materialise in next 2-3 years,” Lt Gen (retired) Syed Ata Hasnain told Times Now Digital.
China is already manufacturing a serious of hi-tech combat and reconnosianace drones. The Chinese drones especially its ‘Wing Loong’ armed drones are being used in Middle Eastern and North African theatres. China has sold these drones in large number to UAE and Saudia Arabia which in turn used them in Yemen and Libya.
Gen Hasnain also said that China would be watchful of the development in the south Caucasus to implement the doctrine to its own end.
“Drones are suddenly in the news due to the context of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict in South Caucasus where Russian and Turkish drones and equipment to counter them are in use. Various variants of drones were used that were effective for “top attack”. With the help of an armed drone, you can attack the weakest part of the tank which is the top of the deck. It can also destroy a gun emplacement by approaching the open end from the top. That is the biggest advantage you have with such armed drones. China of course would be watchful of the developments in South Caucasus. It has its domestic variants of recce and strikes drones but lessons from the latest usage in a combat situation would be lapped up to implement in the doctrine of usage of its own drones,” Gen Hasnain added.
With India’s immediate rivals preparing and arming themselves with deadly technologies, New Delhi can not afford to not lag behind in drone and other cyber warfare technologies to counter their nefarious designs.
Source:- Times Now