Azerbaijan Receiving Buk-MB Air-Defense Systems

Azerbaijan is currently receiving Russian-manufactured missiles to equip its modernized Buk air-defense systems, according to IHS Jane’s.

Citing a source in Belarus’ OKB TSP company, IHS Jane’s reported that a modernization contract for the Azeri missile systems is being carried out.

The source said, “The modernization of the Buk SAM system to Buk-MB is under way. However, Belarus is upgrading only the systems with the use of Russian-made components. The missiles are supplied to Azerbaijan by the Rosoboronexport company.”

Rosoboronexport is Russia’s state intermediary for military imports and exports.

The IHS Jane’s source added, “The upgrade results in a virtually brand-new system featuring enhanced countermeasures resistance, improved tactical characteristics, advanced electronic componentry, and more efficient power supply. In addition, it uses the in-service Russian-made missiles.”

Baku’s Buk-MBs utilize 9M38M1 and 9M137 missiles. The former carries a range of 32 kilometers with a maximum altitude of 20 kilometers, while the latter has a range of 42 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 25 kilometers.

The contract for modernization of Azerbaijan’s Buks became apparent in 2013, when the country first paraded a battalion of Buk-MBs. Another battalion was delivered the following year.

The military has often incorporated Buk-MBs into its training exercises. Alongside one such exercise, Azeri media noted,

“During the trainings, exercises have been carried out to detect, identify, automatically follow and destroy unmanned and manned aircrafts, other air threats as well as ballistic and cruise missiles under enemy’s intensified radio electronic interference and firing.”

Last year, a Belarusian source told Tass News Agency that, though the contract was being implemented, it had suffered delays due to financing issues on the Azeri side.

“The upgrade of Buk air defense missile systems to the Buk-MB version is under way for Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces,” the source told Tass. “The systems will be modernized later than scheduled as Azerbaijan does not have enough money.”

The collapse of global energy prices has forced Baku to reassess its spending, prompting cuts even to defense. (The Azeri government’s budget nominally shows large increases to the defense budget, but these figures include allocations for other spending items not strictly related to military spending.)

The budget troubles have previously been reported to have been the source of a delay in the delivery of other Russian-made military systems.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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