Azerbaijan has reached a decision to purchase Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, according to local reports Saturday which quoted Azeri Defense Industry Minister Yavar Jamalov.
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According to the reports, Jamalov said that an agreement on the purchase had already been signed between both countries. The reports did not include any information regarding the scope of the deal or how many "Iron Dome" batteries Azerbaijan would be purchasing.
For the last few months, local reports have said the deal was nearing conclusion, but Saturday was the first time reports have said that the deal had been finalized.
Israel tried to market the Iron Dome system to a number of countries but didn't see much success. In 2010, reports in Singapore said the Asian city-state was planning to purchase Iron Dome but no further information has emerged since. Earlier this year, the website of the Singaporean defense minister said that Singapore had decided to acquire the radar equipment that guides Israel's anti-missile system, known as "MMR" from the Israeli company Elta.
The U.S. military also tested the system over the past year in an exercise, successfully shooting down an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said last Tuesday that his country had purchased nearly $5 billion-worth of defense equipment from Israel. His confirmation of the extensive military purchases came during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the capital of Baku.
“So far the contracts between Azerbaijani and Israeli companies with respect to purchasing defense equipment have been close to $5 billion,” Aliyev said. “More precisely, $4.85 billion. The biggest part of these contracts has already been executed and still we continue to work on that. And we are very satisfied with the level of this cooperation.”
According to foreign reports, Israel sells Azerbaijan radar systems and drones, and handles the collection of intelligence against Iran from the Asian nation.
Moshe Ya’alon, when he was defense minister, visited Azerbaijan in 2014 for a weapons fair in which Israeli companies participated. According to other reports, an Israeli self-destructing killer drone – Israel Aerospace Industries’ Harop – was seen operating in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian rebel enclave inside Azerbaijan.
It has also been reported that Azerbaijani soldiers are armed with Israeli Tavor rifles. Its soldiers have been seen carrying the blue and white weapon. In 2014, attorney Eitay Mack and Prof. Yair Oron asked the department that supervises military exports to rescind military export licenses because of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the breakaway enclave.