The choice of weapons in the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan: ground forces

The choice of weapons in the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan: ground forces
The choice of weapons in the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan: ground forces

As important as the air force (Air Force) and the opposing air defense (air defense) forces are, the seizure of territory is in any case carried out by ground forces. A territory is not considered captured until an infantryman steps on it. So in the conflict between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) with Azerbaijan and Turkey, the main goal is the capture / retention of disputed territories by ground forces.

Ground Forces of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

The ground forces of Armenia and NKR include about four hundred main battle tanks. Basically, these are unmodernized T-72 tanks, only thirty of them had to be upgraded to the T-72B4 level, some of the indicated are even older T-55 tanks.

The choice of weapons in the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan: ground forces

There are also about three hundred BMP-2, about one and a half hundred BMP-1 and a number of armored personnel carriers. Self-propelled anti-tank weapons are represented by three dozen SPTRK 9P149 "Shturm-S" and 9P148 "Konkurs". There is an unspecified number of transportable anti-tank missile systems (RTPK) 9K129 Kornet.


The most powerful and long-range offensive weapons in Armenia and the NKR are Iskander operational-tactical missile systems (OTRK), in the amount of four combat vehicles, there are still eight Tochka-U OTRK and 12 outdated Elbrus OTRK, presumably modernized in order to increase hitting accuracy.


The powerful MLRS "Smerch" of 300 mm caliber in the amount of four units and eight Chinese MLRS WM-80 of 273 mm caliber have similar characteristics to the OTRK. There is also, according to various sources, about 50-80 MLRS "Grad" caliber 122 mm.


Barrel artillery is represented by self-propelled guns of caliber 122 mm and 152 mm 2S3 "Akatsia" and 2S1 "Gvozdika" with a total number of about sixty units, as well as towed guns 2A36 "Hyacinth-B", D-20, D-1, ML-20, D -30 and M-120 mortars with a total number of about three hundred units.

The number of the ground forces of Armenia is about forty thousand people, the number of the NKR defense army is estimated at twenty thousand people.

The effectiveness of one type or another of weapons and military equipment varies greatly depending on the nature of the terrain in which it is operated and the type of enemy with which to fight. No less important is the planned nature of the conduct of hostilities: offensive or defensive.

Armored vehicles and countermeasures

In the XX century, there were two world wars, the tactics of warfare in which differed radically. Simply put, if you subtract the First World War from the Second World War, then the tanks will remain. It was the massive use of tanks (in combination with the motorization of infantry, artillery and supply forces) that gave the armed forces the ability to quickly concentrate forces, ensuring a breakthrough of the enemy's defenses in the chosen direction.

Of course, one should not forget about the role of aviation, but if we exclude tanks, then the Second World War would also most likely be reduced to positional battles. Aviation, like artillery, by itself is not capable of breaking through the front, as well as inflicting unacceptable damage to the enemy, and the infantry and cavalry are either too slow or too vulnerable to organize breakthroughs.

What does this mean in practical terms for the conflict between Armenia / NKR and Azerbaijan / Turkey?

The fact that tanks, as the main force of the ground forces, are necessary for Azerbaijan to conduct offensive operations and are much less important for Armenia / NKR, since they do not have such a task

It can be assumed that tanks are needed by Armenia / NKR to resist the tanks of Azerbaijan, but this statement can be called into question, since in current military conflicts, tanks almost do not fight with tanks, but act as highly protected mobile firing points. In turn, the destruction of tanks is carried out by other means, most often by ground and air complexes of guided weapons.

For Armenia, the increased vulnerability of tanks and other armored vehicles to high-precision weapons is a major factor: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of Azerbaijan methodically carry out the detection and destruction of armored vehicles in Armenia. Presumably, some of the destroyed armored vehicles are inflatable mock-ups, but many photographs clearly show that the goal was real, and the Armenian side does not always carry out measures to camouflage positions.


In practical terms, this means that there is no need for both Armenia and NKR to buy new tanks. Of those that are available, it is advisable to select the most modern and in good condition, carry out their modernization and form several shock reserve groups. Their task may be to counteract deep penetrations of the enemy into the rear, if such are carried out. At the same time, it is inexpedient to send them to conduct regular hostilities on the front line.

The remaining armored vehicles can be used as means of fire support or withdrawn to the reserve to save money. In the case of using obsolete vehicles on the front line as some kind of mobile pillboxes, camouflaged firing positions should be equipped for them, 3-4 inflatable dummies and other camouflage means should be used for one real combat vehicle, which we considered in the article Choosing weapons in the confrontation with Armenia and Azerbaijan: disguise as "a way of deception".


The main means of countering enemy armored vehicles should not be tanks or aircraft, but a large number of portable and portable anti-tank missile systems (ATGM).

From the point of view of the criterion "cost-effectiveness" the optimal solution would be the purchase of several hundred launchers of ATGM "Kornet" and ATGM "Metis" developed by the Tula JSC "KBP". Their exact cost is unknown and may vary depending on the volume of purchase, but the approximate cost of the Kornet ATGM launcher is about $ 50,000, and the Metis ATGM launcher - $ 25,000. The cost of the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) of the Kornet complex is about $ 10,000, the ATGM of the Metis complex - about $ 3,000.

If the order of the indicated prices is correct, then the cost of purchasing 100 Kornet ATGM launchers and 2000 ATGMs for them, as well as 200 Metis ATGM launchers and 4000 ATGMs for them may amount to about $ 50 million. Equipping the purchased launchers with thermal imagers will double this amount, but still the cost of the purchase remains more than realistic for the military budget of Armenia.


The highest mobility of transportable and portable ATGMs allows them to be quickly concentrated in a threatened area. And the small size, lack of heat radiation and long firing range make it difficult for UAVs to detect them.

The massive use of ATGMs will disrupt any offensive based on the use of armored vehicles, and the ability to effectively camouflage portable and portable ATGMs will not allow the enemy to suppress them using air supremacy

The lack of support for armored vehicles and the presence of equipped and camouflaged firing positions at the defender will largely reduce the situation to the conditions of the First World War, during which, as you know, hostilities often turned into positional ones, and a large amount of manpower was required to break through the defense lines, often sent " for slaughter."

Resistance to manpower

There is an opinion that the main damage to enemy manpower in our time is caused by artillery. At the same time, as we discussed in the article Combat suit. Statistics of injuries, bullets and shrapnel, since the Second World War, despite the increase in the share of high-precision weapons, an increasing number of losses occur due to the defeat of manpower with small arms.


Perhaps this is due to the fact that there was no longer such a massive use of artillery as during the Second World War. In the current situation, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan can afford the use of artillery on such a scale.

Based on this, it can be assumed that small arms will become the main means of engaging enemy personnel in the Armenia / NKR-Azerbaijan / Turkey conflict, and artillery and armored vehicles will play a supporting role

Accordingly, in order to carry out effective defense, it is necessary to ensure maximum superiority over the enemy in this type of weapons.

For a long time, there have been disputes about the insufficient effectiveness of small-caliber cartridges for small arms: the Russian cartridge 5, 45x39 and the western 5, 56x45 mm. Cartridges of caliber 7, 62x39 mm also cannot be called an ideal solution due to their less flat trajectory, which complicates aiming.

The US Army is currently pursuing the NGSW's advanced small arms development program, which, if successful, could significantly affect the situation on the battlefield. The cartridges used in weapons developed under the NGSW program are closer in characteristics to rifle cartridges of caliber 7, 62x54R and 7, 62x51 than to existing small-caliber ammunition.


One of the tasks solved by the promising weapon-cartridge complexes is the defeat of targets in existing and prospective means of personal body armor (NIB). The second task, which is more applicable to the Armenian-Azerbaijani theater of operations (TMD), is to increase the effective firing range.

Despite the fact that weapons under the NGSW program and their Russian counterparts have not yet been created, the opportunity to increase the effectiveness of ground units already exists now.

First of all, this is an increase in the number of machine guns in ground units, relative to the number of other automatic weapons. As such, a single Pecheneg machine gun of 7, 62x54R caliber and a large-caliber Kord machine gun of 12, 7x108 mm caliber can be used.


Another area of ​​increasing the effectiveness of the ground forces is to increase the share of high-precision small arms of 7, 62 mm and 12, 7 mm caliber. In caliber 7, 62, the classic Russian Dragunov sniper rifle (SVD) or the Chukanov sniper rifle (SHCh) planned to replace it can be used, as well as the Kalashnikov AK-308 assault rifle chambered for the NATO cartridge 7, 62x51 mm (although this will add a variety of assortments to the ammunition supply).


As large-caliber sniper rifles can be used OSV-96 "Cracker" and ASVK caliber 12, 7x18 mm.


All of the above does not mean that it is necessary to completely abandon the existing machine guns, but that the ratio of the number of machine guns and sniper rifles of caliber 7, 62x54R mm, 7, 62x51 mm and 12, 7x108 mm in comparison with weapons of caliber 5, 45x39 mm and 7, 62x39 mm should be significantly adjusted in favor of the former

The assault rifles will remain in mobile units and among the least qualified fighters, the militia.At the same time, more powerful weapons should be received by the most qualified fighters, whose training should initially be aimed at using the appropriate weapon.

What will it give in practical terms? First of all, this is a significant increase in the firing range. The negative aspects of small-caliber weapons were clearly felt by the American military in Afghanistan, when the Taliban used rifles of 7, 62x51 mm caliber, and the soldiers of the US Armed Forces opposing them were armed with M-16 / M-4 rifles and M-249 machine guns of 5, 56x45 mm caliber. It is believed that this is one of the reasons for the emergence of the NGSW program, as well as the purchases of the US Armed Forces 7, 62x51 mm rifles.


An important condition that increases the efficiency of using small arms is equipping them with modern optical and thermal imaging sights. And this applies not only to sniper rifles, but also to machine guns.


Another way to increase the effectiveness of small arms is to equip them with silencers used when firing with standard supersonic cartridges. The use of silencers for weapons developed under the NGSW program is initially envisaged.

In Russia, closed-type muzzle brakes (DTC) are produced, which significantly reduce the sound and flash of a shot for both sniper rifles and machine guns, including large-caliber ones.


The increased range and the likelihood of defeat in combination with increased secrecy of the use of small arms will ensure effective defeat of enemy personnel beyond the effective range of the enemy's small-caliber weapons.

The massive use of ATGMs, which provides suppression of armored vehicles, and powerful long-range small arms, which ensure the destruction of manpower, are capable of effectively disrupting the enemy's offensive, even under the condition of his air superiority.

At the same time, all of the above weapons will be more effective in conducting defensive actions than offensive ones; therefore, symmetric measures taken by the enemy will not give him comparable advantages.

Artillery and MLRS

With the exception of tanks, cannon and rocket artillery will remain the only means potentially capable of breaking through firing positions. But, firstly, as we said earlier, it is doubtful that they will have the ability to create sufficient density of fire to ensure the destruction of well-equipped positions (if, of course, the defender creates them). To destroy the scattered firing points of the UAV until no state has enough funds.

Secondly, the enemy's artillery can be suppressed by counter-battery fire, primarily with wheeled MLRS, capable of quickly moving out from covert bases to a firing position, providing high intensity and density of fire and leaving the position before the UAV retaliates.

Barrel artillery can also be used to suppress enemy artillery positions, but it will be effective only when using high-precision missiles such as "Kitolov" and "Krasnopol" with a semi-active laser homing head, in combination with the use of small UAVs, since in the time required to suppress firing positions enemy with unguided ammunition, own artillery positions can be detected and destroyed by UAVs.


There are still OTRKs, but their application to the context of the current conflict is justified only for the purpose of destroying similar enemy systems, MLRS or aviation and medium-sized UAVs at airfields, provided that their exact location is known.

In conclusion, I would like to note that the only way for a weaker adversary to resist a stronger adversary is to conduct irregular high-intensity combat operations.The key requirement for weapons required for effective use in such wars is their high mobility and maximum secrecy, which determines the choice of weapons discussed in this article and in previous materials.

At the same time, in reality, the leadership of the armed forces is often too fond of "shiny toys", attributes of the armies of major powers: tanks, heavy fighters, long-range air defense systems, which, being purchased in limited quantities and not used systematically, are guaranteed to be destroyed by a stronger enemy.

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