Armenian military downed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operated by the Azerbaijani armed forces, officials said on September 14.
The aircraft went down on September 12 at 7:30 AM local time near Vazgenashen in Nagorno Karabakh’s Martuni district “as a result of special measures undertaken by units of air defense and radio-electronic warfare of the Karabakh Defense Army,” the army’s press office reported.
Vazgenashen, previously known as Gulably, is about ten kilometers from the Line of Contact (LoC) between the two armies. Armenian officials believe the aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission.
Karabakh military officials said there was a spike in Azerbaijani UAV activity in recent days most of it along the LoC. But an Azerbaijani intrusion at such depth can be considered a significant escalation.
According to Bloomberg news agency, Azerbaijani officials could not be reached for comment about the incident.
Armenia’s air defense chief Col. Nikolay Babayan told Armenian media that according to preliminary data the UAV was of Hermes series produced in Israel.
Azerbaijan is known to have procured UAVs from Israel.
In June 2008, a Russian industry web site an Azerbaijani Defense Ministry source as expressing interest in acquiring ten Hermes-450 UAVs from Israel’s Elbit Systems, after the same aircraft were used by Georgian military over Abkhazia.
“Our choice of this technology is based on its ‘invisibility’ for the adversary’s air defenses,” the Azerbaijani source was quoted as saying at the time.
Col. Babayan noted the difficulty in detecting the aircraft made of composite materials and claimed that Armenians succeeded in doing so by using domestically developed air defense systems.
Azerbaijan’s Israeli-made UAVs were first seen in its June 2008 parade. Last year, Armenian aircraft were reportedly scrambled after Azerbaijani UAVs intruded across the LoC. But this is the first known incident in which a UAV has been brought down in Karabakh.
The shooting down of the Azerbaijani drone that violated Artsakh’s airspace was not an ordinary success, military expert Artsrun Hovhannisyan told a press conference today.
According to him, it was an exceptional phenomenon, since it’s generally hard to fight against unmanned aerial vehicles, especially those, which fly on the height of 5 thousand meters or higher.
“This is an exceptional case. First, I’d like to note that it’s a powerful aerial vehicle “Hermes 450” of Israeli production. Another one was shot down by a Russian fighter in Abkhazia in 2008,” the expert said.
However, we have destroyed the Azerbaijani drone of Israeli production at a much cheaper cost that Russia did it in 2008, and this could possibly create a new precedent in world history.
According to the expert, this was a shock not only for the Azerbaijani side, but also for the producing company in Israel.
Commenting on the situation at the line of contact, the military expert said: “It has been relatively calm at the line of contact in the recent period. This is not a result of their generousness, but of adequate countermeasures taken.”
Artsrun Harutyunyan believes that the international community will react to the incident.