India has recently signed a major arms deal with Armenia, which is engaged in a long-standing conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The deal includes the supply of Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, rockets and ammunition worth US $250 million to Armenia.
This is India’s first-ever export of the Pinaka system, which is an indigenous heavy weapon capable of firing 12 rockets in 44 seconds and neutralizing a one square km area. India has also supplied four Swathi weapon-locating radars to Armenia, which can track incoming artillery projectiles and pinpoint the location of enemy gun positions.
The arms sale comes amid Azerbaijan’s increasing use of Israeli-made weapons in its military operations against Armenian forces. Azerbaijan is reportedly the largest buyer of Israeli arms in the region, accounting for 69 percent of its arms imports in the past five years.
Among the Israeli weapons that Azerbaijan has deployed are Harop loitering munitions, which are essentially kamikaze drones that can fly around looking for targets and then strike them with high precision. Azerbaijan has also used an Israeli-made Barak-8 missile defense system to shoot down an Armenian Iskander ballistic missile.
Therefore, it remains to be seen whether India’s arms sale to Armenia will be a game-changer or a symbolic gesture in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While it may signal India’s willingness to support its partner and assert its role as a regional power, it may also pose challenges and risks for its foreign policy and security objectives.