Azerbaijani officials and several media outlets have informed on that Baku is working on a deal with Israel for obtaining an Iron Dome air defense system.
However according to eurasianet.org expert, Joshua Kucera, despite various news on the deal, it is very unlikely for Azerbaijan to actually obtain the expensive system, which cannot technically satisfy Baku’s needs.
In his words, dissemination of such information is rather indicative of Azerbaijan’s concern about Armenia’s being ahead of the arms race.
Last month Azerbaijani MP Yedva Abramov talked about the supplies, noting that the deal may bring to naught the efficiency of the Iskanders, which Armenia purchased from Russia. As reported, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit Baku in December, while the Israeli media outlets – citing unknown sources - confirmed Abramov’s claims on that the deal on Iron Domes will be on the agenda. According to the author, the news was taken up by a number of solid media outlets, including Times of Israel, Russian Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade and American Defense Industry Daily.
"Why is the deal unlikely then? On the one hand, the cost [should be taken into account]: one squadron (consisting of two launchers, radar and control center) is assessed at $50 million. Israel, whose space is equal to the quarter of that of Azerbaijan, has installed about ten [such] squadrons. One rocket for this system costs $100,000, while the oil prices have dropped, Azerbaijan reducing its budget, including through zeroing out the expense points for the purchase of arms. Azerbaijan may afford this, but this would be an extravagance, which would require many other budgetary sacrifices.
Secondly, Iron Dome cannot resist Armenia’s Iskanders. The maximal range of Dome is 70 km, which is absolutely suitable for rocket launchers such as Katyusha, by means of which the Palestine combatants are shelling Israel. But the range of Iskanders is 300 km,” Kucera writes.
Expert from British analytical center Chatham House, Zaur Shiriyev, agrees with him. In his words, the system is useless for Azerbaijan. The expert ascribes the rumors on the Iron Dome to the concern about Iskanders: since the news on Armenia’s acquisition became known, the Azerbaijani media and public have been craving for such news.
"Azerbaijan is definitely looking for ways to improve the capacities of its air defense in light of the purchase of Iskanders, regardless of whether that is in France or some other place. But the acquisition of Iron Dome is quite unlikely,” Kucera concluded.