The country of Azerbaijan plans to replace their Kalashnikov AKs with Israeli-built Tavors, a model of the modern Israeli 5.56mm assault rifle, PanARMENIAN.Net, an Armenian news outlet, reported. For those of you who get all those Middle Eastern countries mixed up (don’t be ashamed — we know you’re out there), Azerbaijan’s the northern neighbor of Iran.
This deal between Azerbaijan and Israel is part of a much larger military arms contract. In addition to purchasing a bunch of Tavors assault rifles, Azerbaijan agreed to buy a fleet of Israeli drones – kind of a buy-one-get-one type of deal, except that you replace an extra bag of chips with military-grade recon drones. Altogether, the arms deal is estimated at $1.6 billion. Israel Aerospace Industries, a state-owned company, will be supplying the arms to Azerbaijan. The guns, on the other hand, are manufactured by Israel Military Industries.
This move comes in the wake of a failed deal with Russia over the AK-10x license. The Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense Industry planned to manufacturer a local variant, the Khazri Assault Rifle, but the loss of that deal has left them looking for a new go-to assault rifle.
While the Tavors will be almost exclusively geared towards military and defense applications, the Heron and Searcher MK.2 reconnaissance drones will have a slightly less combative purpose. In addition to the occasional military surveillance mission, these drones can be used to cheaply monitor gas and oil pipelines.