YEREVAN — Under the terms of the latest French-Armenian arms deal, France will deliver 36 CAESAR self-propelled howitzers to Armenia over the next 15 months, a senior official in Yerevan confirmed on Tuesday.

The Armenian Defense Ministry and the French manufacturer of the howitzers signed the contract during talks held by the defense ministers of the two states in Paris on June 17. French Defense Minister Sebastien described it as a “new important milestone” in French-Armenian military ties. No details of the contract were officially made public.

France’s Le Figaro newspaper and defense news website Forces Operations Blog reported the following day that Armenia purchased 36 units of CAESAR and that they will be delivered within 15 months.

“Of course, the report by Le Figaro is based on information provided by the French Defense Ministry. We will certainly not deny it,” Armen Khachatryan, the deputy chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

With a firing range of more than 40 kilometers, CAEASAR is one of the most advanced artillery systems of its kind in the world. France as well as Denmark have gifted Ukraine 49 such 155 millimeter truck-mounted systems since the 2022 Russian invasion of the country. Early this year, Kyiv bought another six French howitzers for between 3 million and 4 million euros ($3.3-$4.4 million) each.

“They have proven their effectiveness in various combat situations in many places around the world,” said Khachatryan. “France has sold that artillery system to very few countries … It is very important for us to have such systems to achieve our defense objectives.” Describing their acquisition as “one component” of the ongoing “full modernization” of Armenia’s armed forces.

Paris pledged last fall to sell defensive weapons and provide other military assistance to Armenia part of a broader deepening of bilateral relations cemented by the existence of an influential Armenian community in France. The French weapons include sophisticated radars, short-range air-defense systems and armored personnel carriers.

The deal  prompted criticism from Russia, Armenia’s longtime and increasingly estranged ally. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it will fan tensions in the South Caucasus.

Khachatryan rejected the Russian criticism as “incomprehensible.” He argued that Moscow is currently not in a position to help Armenia “increase its defense capabilities.”

 

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