As Azerbaijan expresses interest in buying Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder, India reportedly pushed Armenia to purchase HAL Tejas. However, Armenia denied the offer.
Recently, the defense attaché of Azerbaijan’s embassy in Islamabad reiterated his country’s interest in buying the JF-17.
“The purchase of JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan is a key item on our agenda,” Colonel Mehman Novruzov told the media.
He further revealed that Azerbaijan wanted to buy the ‘Block 3’ variant of the JF-17. The JF-17 Block 3 made its first flight in December 2019 in China. It consists of upgraded cockpit electronics and radar systems. Novruzov also added that Azerbaijan is working with Pakistan to upgrade its air force.
Currently, Azerbaijan still operates Soviet-era MiG-29 and Su-25 ground-attack jets. However, the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 has a lower cost.
"Buying JF-17 aircraft from #Pakistan is a key item on our agenda."
– Colonel Mehman Novruzov, defense attache of Azerbaijan Embassy in Pakistan, held a press conference at the Embassy. pic.twitter.com/rXN6FnvoOx
— Umair Aslam (@Defense785) November 2, 2021
While Azerbaijan upgrades and expands its military arsenal, Armenia too may ramp up its defense purchases. The two countries currently have no diplomatic relations due to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is officially recognized as Azeri territory with a large Armenian population. In short, the conflict arose with the two countries fighting for dominance over the region. Despite a peace deal brokered after the six-week war in 2020, both Armenia and Azerbaijan recently filed accusatory claims with the International Court of Justice.
Armenia accused Azerbaijan of promoting ethnic hatred against Armenians. On the other hand, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of ethnic cleansing.
With ties once again strained, it is highly likely that Armenia too will increase its defense purchases to match Azerbaijan.
India’s HAL Tejas vs. Pakistan’s JF-17s
Last year, India outbid Russia and Poland to win a $40 million defense deal to supply four indigenously-built military radars to Armenia. However, reports suggest that with Argentina opting for JF-17s, India offered Armenia HAL Tejas. Armenia allegedly rejected India’s offer.
Since Azerbaijan has officially announced that JF-17 Thunder is on their priority list, India is pushing Armenia to procure HAL Tejas but as per sources Armenia has 'rejected' Tejas. pic.twitter.com/8aJg93F93u
— Pakistan Strategic Forum (@ForumStrategic) November 3, 2021
A recent study by Research & Markets listed Tejas and JF-17 ‘Thunder’ as two of the top light fighter jets available in the global export market.
Interestingly, experts emphasize that Tejas have a big disadvantage against Pak/China JF-17 that mostly uses mostly Chinese and Russian technology all of which are cleared for re-export to 3rd countries.
On the other hand, India’s HAL Tejas uses American engines, Israeli radar, and a combination of avionics from different nations which means exporting Tejas jets will need a lot of approvals.
Moreover, the countries which have contributed to the development of the Tejas may disapprove of its sale to any of their rival countries.