India has made another step forward in its weapon export ambitions, this time closing an arms deal with conflict-torn Armenia. Both countries recently signed the arms deal through a government-to-government channel. The latter is slated to receive Indian-made missiles, rockets, ammunitions, and its most prized indigenous “Pinaka” multi-barrel rock launchers.

While the value of the arms deal was not officially disclosed, The Economic Times reported that the worth of the armament transaction over the next few months would be around $250 million.

Following the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to a border dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, New Delhi had called on the “aggressor side” and urged them to “immediately cease hostilities” and instead resolve the disagreement through diplomacy and dialogue.

“We believe that bilateral disputes should be settled through diplomacy and dialogue. There can be no military solution to any conflict. We encourage both sides to pursue talks to arrive at a lasting and peaceful solution,” said External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a statement.

In 2020, the same border dispute erupted between the neighboring countries, and Armenia subsequently received weapon supplies from India with a whopping $40 million defense agreement. Meanwhile, during the skirmish, Azerbaijan gained backing from its long-standing allies, Turkey and Israel, and had played a significant role in turning favorable tides to the latter—thanks to sophisticated Turkish Bayraktar and Israeli kamikaze drones.

Russia has previously supported Armenia and has been looking out for the former Soviet republic by sending peacekeeper units. However, as you all know by now, the Kremlin is occupied with its invasion of Ukraine, thus leaving Yerevan to fend for itself.

With Armenia desperately looking for immediate arms supply and India on the lookout for expanding its military armament exportation, the million-dollar deal seems a win-win.

India’s Sophisticated Rocket Launcher

Among India’s most prized indigenous armament, the “Pinaka” is a multi-barrel rocket launcher system (MBRL) built and designed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the Indian Army.

Compared to the American M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System that can fire up to 300 km (MGM-140 ATACMS), the Pinaka MBRL system has only a maximum range of nearly 40 km for Mark-I and up to 60 km for the enhanced Mark-I version that can be mounted on a Czech-made truck for mobility. Its launching system comprises two pods containing six rockets each, capable of firing in salvo mode within 48 sec, neutralizing the area of 700×500 m—outfitted with a DIGICORA MET radar. Each Pinaka launcher can fire in a different direction and launch all the rockets at once or just a few. On the other hand, its radar can track incoming missiles, mortars, and artillery shells and pinpoint enemy launchers and positions.

Enhanced Pinaka rocket tested
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Moreover, it can be loaded by different types of warheads and fuzes as well as mounted on “a multi-tube launcher vehicle, a replenishment-cum-loader vehicle, a replenishment vehicle, and a command post vehicle.”

The Pinaka MBRL system has been officially inducted into the Indian Army since its successful debut on the battlefield during the Kargil War in 1999 against Pakistan. The production continued, with an estimated 5,000 missiles produced yearly by 2014.

With the recent arms deal with Armenia, India has increased its defense exports by an impressive feat of 334 percent in the last five years.

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Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Talks Underway

Top diplomats from Armenia and Azerbaijan will once again hold talks, this time in Geneva, to discuss future peace treaty plans and possibly begin drafting the agreement following a deadly skirmish last month. High-ranking officials from both sides have previously tackled its border dispute on August 31 during a European Union-mediated meeting in Brussels.

According to reports, both parties have exchanged ideas on how to compromise that would include both sides’ rights and security and maintain peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Withdrawal of military troops in the area will be in place as well as the release of Prisoners of War (POWs) and allowing international mechanisms to help control the border issue.

The border dispute in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been a long-standing issue between Yerevan and Baku which is a cause of ethnic differences and territorial claims with fighting traced as far back as the early 20th century. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, though, that the intense fighting commenced, triggered by Karabakh Armenians (known as the Karabakh Movement) demanding the transfer of the region from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia. What began as a peaceful movement escalated into a full-blown war in the early 1990s, which diluted into a sporadic, low-intensity skirmish until the four-day escalation in 2016 and deadly full-scale war in 2020.