Azerbaijan is reportedly purchasing the Polonez multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS).
Kommersant reported on April 18, 2018, that Belarus will move forward with Polonez MLRS deliveries to Azerbaijan, with the first transfers possibly occurring this year. The newspaper referenced a source in the Belarusian Defense Ministry, who said that the status of an agreement for the export of Polonez is at a final stage.
The Defense Ministry source noted that the customer did not require a loan for the financing of the purchase.
Two sources in the Russian defense industry clarified to Kommersant that the customer was Azerbaijan, though there is no official confirmation of this information. Numerous Azeri media outlets reported the news, according to Eurasianet.
Azerbaijan has been known to be interested in the 300mm system, which made its international debut at the 2016 ADEX forum in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, Zakir Hasanov, has visited Belarus on multiple occasions in the last year to discuss the potential sale.
Kommersant reported that Azerbaijan will ultimately procure 10 Polonez MLRS systems.
Despite the fact that Belarus and Armenia are both part of the CSTO alliance, Minsk is seemingly looking to move forward with the sale to Azerbaijan. Armenia, Azerbaijan’s rival, has opposed the sale, given the fact that the system could see action against Armenian troops and its procurement is geared towards countering Armenia’s Iskander-E, acquired from Russia in recent years.
Polonez carries a range of at least 200 kilometers, if not greater, offering Azerbaijan a suitable interim deterrent against Armenia’s Iskander-E short-range ballistic missile. Baku is likely seeking a comparable surface-to-surface missile in the coming years.