Gandhinagar: Amidst the ongoing tensions with its rival Azerbaijan, Armenia is eyeing more defence deals with India including possible procurement of drones and loitering munitions, besides mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system like the Akash.
Deeper defence cooperation was the focus of the bilateral meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Armenian counterpart Suren Papikyan held here on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar Tuesday.
The meeting comes just weeks after the two countries entered into a government-to-government contract for the sale of indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, Konkurs anti-tank guides missile and a wide variety of ammunition including 80-mm mortars.
Sources in the government remained tight-lipped about what transpired during the bilateral meeting with the Armenian minister but maintained that “defence cooperation was the focus”.
The Centre has been wary of speaking on the defence cooperation with Armenia because of the ongoing tensions with Azerbaijan, a country that Turkey and Pakistan support.
However, sources told that Armenia has been considering the possible procurement of the indigenous Akash air defence systems.
It is also looking at arming itself with loitering munitions developed in India by private companies like Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and Solar Industries.
As reported by ThePrint earlier, Azerbaijan is seen by many as part of an emerging axis with Turkey and Pakistan. It has used Turkish drones to fight the war against Armenia and is also in talks with Pakistan to buy the JF-17 fighter aircraft.
The ex-Soviet republic bought four indigenous Swathi weapons locating radars in 2020 from India which was delivered in the backdrop of its conflict with Azerbaijan.
The sale of Pinaka rockets was the first international order for the indigenous system and will also be the first for Akash missile system if contracted for.
India is looking at its highest-ever defence exports this fiscal with sales touching Rs 8,000 crore in the first six months as the Narendra Modi government tries to shed its import dependence in the critical sector.
The country’s defence exports touched a record Rs 13,000 crore in 2021-2022 fiscal, which was nearly eight times of what it was in 2014.
In 2020, the Modi government had set a target of Rs 35,000 crore (USD 5 billion) in the export of aerospace, and defence goods and services for the next five years.
This is meant to be part of the Rs 1.75 lakh crore (USD 25 billion) turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025 that the government is aiming to achieve.