During the visit, which will take place between July 12th and 14th, Minister Gallant is expected to meet with the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, as well as with his counterpart, Minister of Defence Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, Chief of the State Border Service Colonel General Elchin Guliyev, and other senior defence officials.
The Minister and his delegation will participate in official wreath-laying and welcoming ceremonies at the ministries where he will be hosted.
According to an official statement, Minister Gallant is conducting the visit with the aim of further strengthening the strategic ties between Israel and Azerbaijan in the fields of diplomacy, security, and technology. This includes widening defence and industrial cooperation between the countries.
During the meetings, Minister Gallant is expected to discuss shared security challenges, as well as opportunities to increase regional security and stability.
Minister Gallant’s visit takes place against a backdrop of growing ties between the countries, which culminated in the opening of the embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Israel in March of this year.
The Minister will be accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Shachar Katz, Military Secretary Brig. Gen. Guy Markizano, and Director of the Policy and POL-MIL Bureau, Dror Shalom.
The defence ties between Azerbaijan and Israel are very close. This country has a long border with Iran. Azerbaijan has, in recent years, purchased some Israeli-developed weapon systems, including loitering weapon systems, to answer specific operational requirements. These systems were used extensively during the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Video clips from the war zone showed heavy use of Israeli loitering weapon systems by the Azeris.
In 2018, the Azeris acquired the Elbit Systems SkyStriker loitering weapon system. This is part of this country’s plan to acquire autonomous strike capabilities. The Israeli company refused to comment on the contract, but videos showing tests with this system in Azerbaijan surfaced on the net.
The SkyStriker is the first such system developed by Elbit Systems. The SkyStriker – a remotely operated electro-optical, precise guided Loitering Munition (LM) – is designed to seek, locate, and engage various targets for the tactical-level military force. According to Elbit, the SkyStriker is capable of locating, acquiring, and striking operator-marked targets, enabling high-precision performance. The system’s electric propulsion provides a low acoustic signature and enables covert low altitude operations. According to the Israeli company, due to its flight speed capability, it can reach a distance of tens of miles within minutes. Upon reaching the target area, it can loiter and pursue the target for up to two hours.
Azerbaijan is one of the largest weapons markets for Israeli military equipment. This, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In the past, this country has purchased another loitering weapon system, the Harop, made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It also purchased the Lora, a long-range surface-to-surface precise rocket.
The Harop has been developed to destroy high-quality targets. It consists of the munitions unit, a transportable launcher, and a mission control shelter, which provides real-time access to control the Harop by a man-in-the-loop. The Harop can be launched from various transportable platforms, including sea and ground-based canisters, or air-launched to navigate towards the potential target area. It can be launched at any angle, horizontally or at a vertical trajectory. The sealed container ensures protection from harsh battlefield conditions. The Harop is armed with a 35-pound warhead and is equipped with a very advanced day/night payload (POP-250) made by the Tamam division of IAI. Harop has an operational range of 620 miles and an endurance of six hours.
In recent months, there were reports about some new Israeli-developed weapon systems that Azerbaijan wants to acquire.
Last year, Israeli Defence Company Meteor Aerospace teamed up with Caspian Ship Building Company (CSBC) in Azerbaijan to jointly offer advanced defence solutions to meet the national needs of Azerbaijan. The two companies are well-positioned to offer a wide range of defence solutions, with local support, with unique advantages to Azerbaijan’s defence needs and industry. A new company was established in Azerbaijan, named Caspian Meteor, to implement this cooperation.