Assessing Armenia’s Military Diversification Efforts: Partnerships with India and France

Assessing Armenia’s Military Diversification Efforts: Partnerships with India and France


France and India have now emerged as Armenia's primary arms suppliers.

Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan expressed optimism about the new agreements, saying in February that they "will enhance the future of the army and the quality of armaments."

After the border clashes in September 2022, Armenia recognized that the Russian arms and military equipment market was inadequate for ensuring stable and reliable supplies. Diversification of arms and military equipment became a priority. The need for this diversification became evident following the Azerbaijani assault on Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 and the ensuing ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population.

Indian Armaments

The primary source of information about weapons acquired by Armenia from India is the Indian press. Armenia has neither officially confirmed the list of Indian weapons supplied nor the cost of contracts with Indian defense industry enterprises. However, Armenia has also not denied the information from the Indian media, seemingly preferring a strategy of ambiguity on these issues.

Even before starting the significant export order, Armenia purchased Swathi WLR counter-battery radars from India, amounting to 4 units for a sum of $40 million.

Open sources indicate that since the fall of 2022, contracts have been signed for the supply of various weaponry. This includes the 214mm Pinaka MLRS, Konkurs anti-tank missiles (produced under a Russian license), mortars, and various ammunition such as small arms cartridges, 30-40 mm grenades. The list also includes MArG 155mm, 39 caliber self-propelled howitzers, ATAGS 155mm, 52 caliber advanced towed howitzer artillery gun systems, ZEN anti-drone systems, and Akash and Akash-NG air defense systems. Additionally, leaked information suggests that Armenia is acquiring Indian anti-missile defense systems, specifically the Ashwin Ballistic Missile Interceptor.

Based on information from Indian media, there are proposals for Armenia to acquire a wider range of weapons and military equipment. This includes Pralay ballistic missiles, supersonic missiles like BrahMos and BrahMos NG, third-generation anti-tank guided missiles, various types of barrage ammunition, and more.

Moreover, India may propose a plan to upgrade Armenia’s Su-30SMs and equip them with modern Indian avionics, radars, and missiles, such as the Astra BVRM and the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW).


The estimated value of current and forthcoming contracts with India varies among experts, with estimates ranging from $1 billion to $2 billion.

French Military-Technical Cooperation 

France’s security cooperation with Armenia commenced during the visit of French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu to Yerevan. Accompanied by officials from several leading French defense companies, including MBDA, which specializes in missiles and missile systems for air, naval, and ground forces; Nexter, known for its production of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, anti-aircraft complexes, and anti-tank guided missiles; Safran, a manufacturer of aircraft engines, aviation equipment, optoelectronic systems, navigation systems, control systems; Thales, a developer of radars, electronic warfare systems, missile defense systems, and cybersecurity solutions; and Arquus, a producer of infantry fighting vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, and general-purpose armored personnel carriers.

According to the signed memorandum of understanding and open-source information, Armenia is acquiring the following from France:

  • 50 units of Bastion armored vehicles

  • Three GM200 radars, capable of detecting air targets within a radius of 250 kilometers

  • Night vision devices, including binoculars and goggles

  • Various modifications of assault (sniper) rifles from the firearm manufacturing company PGM Précision company

  • Mistral short-range air defense systems 

Negotiations are currently underway regarding the provision of medium and long-range air defense systems, artillery systems, and anti-drone systems. These discussions are centered on addressing the specific requirements of the Armenian army and France's capacity to fulfill them.

The most significant aspect of cooperation encompasses military education, combat training systems, various exercises and training, mountain infantry and sniper training, and advisory and expert support. This aspect merits particular attention.

France has pledged to train five Armenian officers at the Saint-Cyr Military Academy, with the possibility of increasing this number in the future. France will also assist in training junior officer personnel.

Additionally, France will send a military advisor specializing in air defense to Yerevan.

The financial details of current and future defense deals between Armenia and France remain undisclosed.



The military-technical cooperation between Armenia, India and France offers numerous advantages to Armenia. These include diversifying the supplies of arms and military equipment and reducing its total dependence on Russian supplies. Moreover, through the procurement of modern artillery systems, Armenia is transitioning away from the Soviet-era 152 mm caliber weapons to the globally adopted 155mm caliber.

However, this approach has its downsides, especially regarding Indian-produced systems. Some products have not yet been deployed in the Indian army. In some instances, Armenia is the first customer and could even be the first user in combat situations. Assessing their effectiveness, as well as accurately assessing their pros and cons, can only be accomplished after actual combat use.

While some Russian analysts may argue that uniformity outweighs innovation, in the Armenian context, innovation is essential –– and it can eventually be standardized.

The transition to modern weapons systems involves acquiring both towed and self-propelled artillery variants made in India.

This includes the introduction of rocket artillery in 122 mm, 300 mm, and a new 214 mm caliber, with some featuring guidance systems.

Such a transition poses several complexities, including training personnel, adapting to new equipment, managing repairs and spare parts, handling logistics, and managing ammunition.

This process demands ample preparation time, a solid contractual relationship with supplier partners –– in this case, India –– and the ability to assemble ammunition, primarily 155 mm, within Armenia.

Many have criticized Armenia's acquisition of systems that aren't compatible with those the Armenian army has been using for around 30 years.

However, these systems and their ammunition are primarily produced in Russia. Since 2022, Russia has been facing ammunition shortages and has resorted to buying large quantities from the North Korean army's storage facilities, and to a lesser extent, from Iran.

Under these circumstances, Armenia could complete the integration and adaptation process of new artillery and air defense systems by 2026, given the right approach.


This also applies to French-made weapons and equipment. There were no such air target detection radars in Armenia; they can be integrated with Armenia's existing air defense systems and those to be received from France and India. Armenia is set to acquire Mistral short-range air defense systems from France. These are likely to be the latest generation models and are expected to significantly outperform their Soviet-Russian counterparts in the Armenian army's arsenal.

When evaluating armored vehicles, it's crucial to assess their quality and advantages compared to the existing vehicles in Armenia's military inventory, especially UAZ vehicles (all types) and GAZ-Sadko trucks, with a primary emphasis on their protective capabilities rather than just focusing on tanks.


In any case, Armenia must navigate this complex process of modernizing its military and diversifying its sources of arms.


Eduard Arakelyan