Russia has deployed an electronic jamming system in Armenia that has downed at least nine Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 combat drones used by Azerbaijan in fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Asia Times reported on Monday, citing Russian news reports.
The “Krasukha” is a Russian-made broadband multifunctional jamming system, dubbed “Belladonna” in English, which Russia is operating out of its military base in Gyumri, Armenia, the Hong Kong-based news website said. The base is near the Turkish border and about 487 kilometres from the nearest major Azeri base in Ganja, it said.
The system was designed primarily to protect areas in and around Russia’s military bases where its powerful transmitter can blank out airborne radars, although it has also been found useful in counteracting armed drones, the Asia Times said.
The Krakushka was used successfully in defending Russia’s Hmeimim air base in Syria from swarming drones, it said. Those drones, also known as ‘loitering munitions’ or ‘suicide drones’, are designed to overwhelm air defence systems and crash into a target, setting off armed explosives in the process.
Russian news media said that at least nine Bayraktar drones were shot down on or around Oct. 19, according to the Asia Times. It said neither the Russian, Azeri nor Turkish governments have made a statement on the issue.
Turkey has heavily advertised the success of the Bayraktar in various theatres of conflict: in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, where the country is conducting military operations fighting Kurdish armed groups; in Libya, pushing back a 14-month rebel offensive to take the capital Tripoli; and in clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, where they are used by the Azeri armed forces.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh erupted on Sept. 27 and has since reportedly killed hundreds. It marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old dispute over the region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia.
The violence – involving heavy artillery, rockets and drones – has continued to rage despite Russia’s attempts to broker a lasting truce.
Russia is the dominant player in the Caucasus region and maintains a security pact with Armenia, a close ally. The agreement does not however cover Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow has also cultivated warmer relations with Azerbaijan in recent years. It sells weapons to both sides.