Azerbaijan’s purchasing two batteries of the S-300PMU2 Favorit air-defense system will cause a radical change in the regional arms race, the military expert Artsrun Hovhannisyan told NEWS.am. Although the information has not yet been confirmed, official sources are normally silent in such cases, he stressed.
Russia’s official position is logical: since there is an agreement to supply air-defense systems to a state, which is an enemy of Russia’s strategic ally, Armenia, their unwillingness to comment on the deal is natural. Any comments that the supply of such air-defense systems to Azerbaijan is unlikely or that S-300 is a purely defensive system and does not pose any threat to Armenia are, at least, unfounded. The S-300PMU2 Favorit air-defense system are of much superior quality than the arms that have until now been supplied to the South Caucasus.
It is with this last factor that military experts should be concerned most, as the old offensive weapons (missiles with a flight range of 500km and rate of fall of 4-4.5km per second) will become highly vulnerable. Moreover, the presence of the S-300PMU2 Favorit air-defense system in the region may enhance the quality of offensive weapons. Overcoming the defense of the S-300PMU2 Favorit air-defense system necessitates the purchase of the Iskander-E missile system, the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATacMS) or powerful radioelectronic systems with their own carriers.
“These systems are very expensive, but there is no alternative in ensuring national security,” the expert says. Some air-to-ground missiles are effective against S-300PMU2 Favorit, but, of purchased, they require powerful carriers.
The S-300PMU2 Favorit system is produced by the “Concern PVO “Almaz-Antey” CJSC, Russia. One of the Board members, Igor R. Ashurbeily, is a native of Baku, Azerbaijan. A sensational case involving Ashurbeily was recently made public. Ashurbeily was charged with squandering the funds under the S-400 project. However, he was not dismissed. Rather, his fortune of billions of U.S. dollars, as well as personal contacts, enables him to render services to Azerbaijan. May be, it is thanks to him that Azerbaijani officers are now studying at the Zhukov Air and Space Defense Academy in Tver, to sit at the command post of the S-300PMU2 Favorit system later. It should be noted that Ashurbeily is in charge of Almaz-Antey’s export policy.
Of course, the sale of S-300PMU2 Favorit cannot be fully linked with Ashurbeily – such deals are approved at the highest level at the Kremlin. In fact, it is a political decision rather than a trade deal, as only two batteries are involved. “But if S-300PMU2 Favorit is sold to Azerbaijan, Russia’s steps can be termed as an act of treachery against its strategic partner. In this case, Armenia should turn to the west for purchasing offensive weapons, which is inevitable,” Hovhannisyan said.
S-300PMU2 Favorit is a prototype of the well-known S-400 Triumf, but is hardly inferior to the latter.
S-300PMU2 Favorit is a powerful air-defense system. It is capable of defending against aircraft and cruise missiles and of intercepting aircraft at a distance of 200km and ballistic missiles at a distance of 40km.