Azerbaijani forces used a sophisticated method to destroy Russian-made S-300 air defence systems during the Nagorno-Karabakh war last year, combining Soviet-era single-engine planes with Israeli-made “suicide” drones.

Azerbaijan’s battle strategy was based on the use of advanced drone technology in the disputed mountainous territory, tactics that won Baku the 44-day war against Armenian forces. Yerevan suffered huge losses of Russian weaponry, including six S-300 systems, according to the Azerbaijan military.

A senior official, who was briefed on Azerbaijan’s drone warfare, told MEE that at first Baku found it difficult to detect the S-300s, which were concealed and difficult to spot.

The solution, according to the official, was simple: Azerbaijan needed a decoy aircraft to lure and identify the Russian-made systems. Baku then began to employ Soviet-era Antonov An-2 single-engine utility and agricultural aircraft, which cost no more than $100,000 and were readily available.

Azerbaijani engineers converted the aeroplanes into unmanned aerial vehicles by replacing the pilot with a kit that allows remote control.

“The Antonovs would appear on radar as legitimate military-grade drones and activate the S-300 systems,” the official said. “And then Israeli-built Harop loitering munitions, dubbed ‘kamikaze drones’, would hit the Russian-made systems.”

A satellite image published by Russian media last October indicated that Azerbaijan had moved 50 An-2 biplane aircraft to Yevlakh airport, near the Azerbaijani city of Ganja.

Shushan Stepanyan, the spokesperson for the Armenian military, reportedly said on 1 October that they shot down an An-2 that didn’t eject any pilot, raising suspicions that it was being used as an unmanned aerial device, collecting information on Armenia’s air defences.

Can Kasapoglu, director of defence research at Turkish think-tank EDAM, told MEE that the method was a textbook approach to the Russian weaponry.

“The Russian military, like the Armenians, wouldn’t activate their systems unless they see a threat on the radar,” he said. “Azerbaijan even didn’t need to change the actual shape of the Antonovs, they just need to appear as military drones on the radar.”

During the September-November conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a nominal Azerbaijani territory that had been occupied by Armenian forces since 1994, Turkey and Israel provided unprecedented support for Baku.

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a ceasefire after six weeks of heavy fighting in November, following the Azerbaijani army’s seizure of the strategic city of Shusha (known as Shushi in Armenian).

Photo: Antonov AN 2 By common – commons file, CC BY-SA 4.0

Source: Middle East Eye

UAV DACH: Beitrag im Original auf, mit freundlicher Genehmigung von UAS Vision automatisch importiert. Der Beitrag gibt nicht unbedingt die Meinung oder Position des UAV DACH e.V. wieder. Das Original ist in englischer Sprache. Für die Inhalte ist der UAV DACH e.V. nicht verantwortlich.