In July of 2010, various media reports indicated that Russia was completing a sale of S-300PMU-2 Favorit (SA-20B GARGOYLE) SAM systems to Azerbaijan. Something of an uproar ensued, with Russia and Azerbaijan denying the sale and Armenia expressing its displeasure. Then, in June of 2011, two S-300PMU-2 TELs appeared in an Azeri military parade in Baku. Clearly the sale had gone through, despite the denials from all parties involved.
Now, following an imagery update in May of 2013, the location of Azerbaijan's Favorit SAM systems can be disclosed. Sited on the coastline northwest of Sumgait, the Favorit batteries appear sited to defend the capital area. The 200 kilometer range of the Favorit's 48N6E2 (GARGOYLE mod 1) interceptor also provides the system with a degree of capability over western Azerbaijan, although the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains just out of reach.
Azerbaijan deploys two Favorit batteries and a single battle management complex. Each battery possesses a 30N6E2 (TOMB STONE) engagement radar and a 96L6E acquisition radar, with four 5P85TE2 TELs. The northern battery also possesses two 40V6 series mast assemblies adjacent to the two radar systems. The central position employs the 64N6E2 (BIG BIRD D) battle management radar.
The southern site is emplaced on a reprofiled former S-75 (SA-2 GUIDELINE) position, with the northern site emplaced on a newly built semi-hardened position. The site buildup suggests a permanent deployment location. However, the mobility of the S-300PMU-2 allows it to redeploy in a very short period of time.
The S-300PMU-2 represents the most advanced SAM system in the region, and is easily the most capable air defense system in the Azerbaijani inventory. The 200 kilometer engagement range is supported by 300 kilometer range surveillance and tracking capability from the associated 64N6E2 and 96L6E radars, systems capable of monitoring the bulk of both Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. The six target engagement capability of the system, effectively doubled by deploying two batteries, effectively negates any aerial threat posed by the Armenian military. Furthermore, the ATBM capability of the system removes Soviet-era SCUD missiles from the threat picture.
With the deployment of the S-300PMU-2, Azerbaijan has taken a significant step to upgrading its air defense capability. The ability of the Favorit, coupled with the state of the Armenian military, significantly reduces the threat of an armed conflict between the two nations in the future, or at the very least enables Azerbaijan to remove the Armenian air and missile threat from the equation.