The analysis of recent imagery acquired from various sources highlights air defense developments in the Caucasus region.
In its most recent research, the U.S.-based open-source military analysis IMINT & Analysis, based on the Google Earth satellite imagery of air defense systems, examines Russian and Armenian air defense postures in the Caucasus region, Contact.az reported.
“Imagery from TerraServer and Bing Maps provides the first look at newly identified active S-300PS (SA-10B GRUMBLE) complexes in Armenia and the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia. Both locations represent significant deployments for differing reasons,” says Sean O’Connor, a subject matter expert in the fields of air defense and strategic warfare.
Prior to 2008, Armenia imported components for at least three S-300PT (SA-10A GRUMBLE) batteries, displacing S-125 (SA-3 GOA) batteries defending the capital of Yerevan, according to the source.
By 2010, Russia delivered an additional pair of S-300PS batteries, reportedly deployed in the eastern Syunik province. The two sites, near Goris in the north and Kaghnut in the south, both reside within seven kilometers of the border with Nagorno Karabakh.
“Only the Kaghnut battery resides on a prepared site, the complex specially designed to accommodate the local terrain. Both batteries employ a 5N63S mobile engagement radar and mast-mounted 5N66M low-altitude EW radar,” the source mentioned.
“As imaged in 2011, the Goris battery currently operates four 5P85S/D TELs, with the Kaghnut battery operating eight. Additionally, both batteries displaced aging 2K11 (SA-4 GANEF) units. The status of the displaced 2K11 batteries remains unknown.”
Deployment of the mobile S-300PS batteries in Syunik province places the entire Nagorno Karabakh under the protection of Armenia’s air defense network, according to the analyst.
Furthermore, the S-300PS enjoys mobility that the S-300PT does not, enabling rapid relocation when required. As such, either S-300PS complex represents a possible occupant for the S-300P complex constructed near Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno Karabakh, supplementing or replacing extant 2K11 or S-125 batteries in the region.
The siting of the S-300PS batteries permits target track assignment from either the Yerevan-based 64N6 battle management radar or a Nagorno Karabakh-based 36D6 EW radar. Furthermore, the current siting of the S-300PS batteries closes a pre-existing air defense gap, allowing Armenia to deny air travel into Nakhijevan.
“With the amount of attention given to air defense related developments in the Middle East, it is simple to overlook developments elsewhere in the world. However, overlooked developments, such as the placement of Armenian S-300PS batteries adjacent to Nagorno Karabakh, represent significant occurrences potentially impacting various future scenarios in the region,” the source concludes.