The military parade dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan was held on June 26 on Azadlig Square in Baku. It was saluted by the President of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev with the participation of the First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, representatives of the government, parliament, public, war veterans, and about hundred officials from different countries.
About 4,000 people took part in the military parade from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergencies, State Security Service, State Border Service and the Special Service for State Protection, as well as the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey.
Over 240 military equipment, ships, over 70 aircraft were demonstrated at the solemn ceremony, including the most modern armoured vehicles, the newest weapons and equipment - missile and artillery systems, air defence systems, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles.
Congratulating the staff of the Armed Forces and the public of Azerbaijan on the anniversary of the Armed Forces, President Ilham Aliyev noted that the establishment of the army was one of the most important decisions of the leadership of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (ADR), whose 100th anniversary was celebrated at the state level in late May.
President stressed that after gaining independence, Azerbaijan faced military aggression of its neighbours. In the absence of a regular army, scattered armed groups could not protect the territorial integrity and 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory were occupied by Armenia. Later, the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev came to power and prevented the further occupation of lands. Under his leadership, some parts of the regions occupied by Armenia were also conquered. The establishment of a regular army is one of the important decisions taken by H. Aliyev. “Economic opportunities were necessary to create a regular army,” President Ilham Aliyev noted underlining that army construction is the top priority issue.
“Azerbaijan will never come to terms with occupation. Azerbaijan must restore its territorial integrity. Therefore, we had to create a strong army. Today, I can say with full confidence that we have managed to achieve this. Today, our army is one of the strongest armies in the world. The construction of the army is our main task. To create a powerful army we need a strong economy. We worked very actively in this direction. Over the past 15 years, there has not been a second such country that would develop in the economic sphere as rapidly as Azerbaijan. Our economy grew 3.2 times,” Aliyev said.
President noted that since 2003, Azerbaijan's defence spending has increased by fifteen times. Dozens of military camps have been created in recent years, 80% of military units and military camps have been rebuilt or renovated. In the next couple of years, all military towns will be completely repaired. “Residential and domestic issues of servicemen are being resolved. We decided that the State provides free apartments to those military, who had demonstrated 20 years of flawless service in the army. Today, more than 20,000 civilians work in our military units. Previously, soldiers were engaged in these jobs. We freed them from domestic works. At the same time, more than 20,000 jobs were opened for civilians,” said the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
The parade also demonstrated that the Azerbaijani army is equipped with the most modern weapons and equipment, not only imported, but also of its own production. Today, more than 20 military factories are operating in Azerbaijan, which produce 1,200 items of military products. Only a small part of these weapons were presented at the parade.
Among them were SPAYK-LR anti-tank missile systems and the recently adopted more powerful SPAYK ER. In the battles occurred in April 2016, more than 30 enemy tanks and other combat armoured vehicles were destroyed with this weapon.
The parade also demonstrated armoured vehicles, self-propelled artillery systems, modernized infantry fighting vehicles, T-90S tanks known as the most powerful tank, air defence weapons systems, Buk-MB air defence missile system characterized by high mobility, multichannel universal mobile anti-aircraft missile systems S-300 Favorit, complexes of anti-aircraft defence systems “Ildyrym” and “Galkhan”, highly accurate “ground-to-air” cruise missiles adopted by the Azerbaijani army just before the celebrations, artillery weapon systems, the recently adopted 152 mm self-propelled artillery unit equipped with an automatic control system, 300 mm rocket launcher systems, missile systems, 301-millimeter and 624-mm tactical missile systems equipped with an automatic control system.
Last parade was conducted in 2013. Since then, Azerbaijan has raised the level of combat capability of its army even more and demonstrated this not only at parades. In April 2016, when Armenia committed another military provocation on the contact line in Karabakh, the Azerbaijani army not only prevented the offensive, but also successfully launched a counter-offensive operation, liberated an area of 2,000 hectares in the territory of Aghdere, Fuzuli and Jabrayil regions. Thus, the myth about the vaunted line of defence of Armenia was dispelled.
Another evidence of the power of the Azerbaijani army was successful operation conducted in May 2018 by the Nakhchivan Separate Combined Arms Army, which resulted in the liberation of 11,000 hectares of lands seized by Armenia in the early 1990s. Azerbaijani military regained control over strategically important heights and even the main road connecting Armenia with Karabakh.
Flags of Azerbaijan, flown in the liberated territories of Karabakh and Nakhchivan, were brought to the parade also. They were carried behind the national flag along with combat banners of the troops.
“These flags were in battle. Today they are flown in the Azerbaijani lands liberated from occupation and brought here for parade. There will come a day when the Azerbaijani flag is delivered to the Azadlig Square and demonstrated at the military parade after liberation of the lands that remain under occupation for now. We must bring this sacred day closer and closer,” President said.
For the first time in the Baku parade, the Turkish Armed Forces commemorated the date when the combined Turkish-Azerbaijani forces cleared Baku of the Dashnak-Bolshevik forces on September 15, 1918.
Two F-16 and eight F-5 fighters of the Turkish air group Solo Turk and Turkish Stars performed demonstration flights over the Baku Bay. Many years ago, the Turkish Stars already demonstrated a show in the skies of Baku in support of Azerbaijan facing external threats. In the current parade, the flight of Turkish fighters was preceded by a grandiose performance of the most modern aircraft and helicopters of the Azerbaijani Air Force, which could only be dreamed of then.
By the way, for the first time in the history of military aviation, Azerbaijani military pilots showed the art of high aerobatics on the Su-25 attack aircraft.
As President I. Aliyev noted, Baku will continue to make efforts to strengthen its military power. “We do this because we can see, and the ongoing global processes confirm this, that international law does not work. If it worked, Azerbaijani lands would have been released from the invaders long ago. Resolutions adopted by international organizations are not being implemented, there is no mechanism for their implementation. The force factor acts as a main tool in various regions of the world,” President Aliyev said.
Supreme Commander-in-Chief noted that the war in Karabakh is not over yet. Only its first stage is over, and Azerbaijan's main task is to restore its territorial integrity.