India’s ‘Pinaka Deal’ With Armenia to be Shot in Arm for Nation Amid Conflict With Azerbaijan | Explained

India – Sept 30 2022

By: News Desk

Edited By: Vidushi Sagar

While Armenia deals with a surge in violence with Azerbaijan in a new flare-up of tensions, India has decided to export missiles, rockets, and ammunition, including indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, according to the Economic Times. The system was included in India’s export list, which was published in February 2021.

The Ministry of Defense authorised the export of weapons through a government-to-government channel, and the two countries signed agreements earlier this month to deliver weapons and ammunition to Armenia. While the value of the deal has not been disclosed, the report claims that armament worth $250 million will be sold in the coming months.

This revelation comes just days after India urged the “aggressor side" in new fighting along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border to “immediately cease hostilities," without naming Azerbaijan, reports said. On September 13, fighting erupted between the two sides over the lingering Nagorno-Karabakh region dispute.

About the Pinaka

The long-range artillery system developed indigenously and named after Lord Shiva’s bow, are used on the battlefield to attack adversary targets prior to close-quarter battles involving smaller-range artillery, armoured elements, and infantry, a report by the Indian Express says.

According to the report, the Pinaka, which is primarily a multi-barrel rocket system (MBRL), can launch a salvo of 12 rockets in 44 seconds. One Pinaka system battery consists of six launch vehicles, as well as loader systems, radar, and links to network-based systems and a command post. A single battery can neutralise a one-kilometer-by-one-kilometer area. As a key tactic of long-range artillery battle, launchers must’shoot and scoot’ to avoid becoming targets themselves, especially due to the back blast. As a result, the launcher vehicles must be extremely manoeuvrable.

When Did Its Development Begin?

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) began developing the Pinaka in the late 1980s as an alternative to the multi-barrel rocket launching systems of Russian manufacture, such as the ‘Grad,’ which are still in use, the report by Indian Express explains.

Following successful tests in the late 1990s, the Pinaka Mark-1 was successfully used on the battlefield during the Kargil War in 1999. Several regiments of the system subsequently emerged during the 2000s.

How is This Helpful for Armenia?

Azerbaijan has received backing from its traditional allies and supporters, Turkey and Israel. During the 2020 skirmish between the two combatants, Baku turned the tide in its favor by overwhelmingly deploying Turkish Bayraktar and Israeli kamikaze drones.

While Armenia has often turned to Russia for support, Moscow’s preoccupation with war against Ukraine has garnered limited assistance. In the face of rising hostilities and little military aid, a deal with India for rocket systems and another armament would prove to be a shot in the arm for a beleaguered Armenia, according to a report by the Eurasian Times.

What Else Will the Deal Get Armenia?

As part of the package agreement, Armenia will receive anti-tank missiles and a variety of ammunition from India in addition to the Pinaka. The full scope of these weapons has yet to be revealed. This is not the first time Armenia has received weapons from a South Asian country. In 2020, India defeated Russia and Poland in a $40 million defence agreement with Armenia that will provide it with four indigenous SWATHI counter-battery radars.

What’s the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict?

A six-week war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire. Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades, and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.

With Moscow increasingly isolated on the world stage following its February invasion of Ukraine, the United States and the European Union had taken a leading role in mediating the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalisation process.

Last week, the two countries’ foreign ministers met in New York for talks mediated by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. During EU-led negotiations in Brussels in April and May, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Pashinyan agreed to “advance discussions" on a future peace treaty.

They last met in Brussels on August 31, for talks mediated by European Council President Charles Michel. The talks also focus on border delimitation and the reopening of transport links. The issue of ensuring a land transport link between Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan and its ally Ankara via Armenian territory has emerged as the primary sticking point.

Azerbaijan insists on Yerevan renouncing its jurisdiction over the land corridor that should pass along Armenia’s border with Iran — a demand the Armenian government rejects as an affront to the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.

With inputs from AFP