Wednesday 3 November 2021

DIY Warfare: Armenia’s N-2 MRL

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Throughout its modern history Armenia has frequently come up with ingenious weapons designs in an attempt to provide its military with new combat capabilities at relatively little cost. One such project, a remote weapon system designed for use in trenches, has already been covered in an earlier article on this website. Another relatively little-known project entailed the design of a short-range thermobaric multiple rocket launcher (MRL) that utilises twelve RPG-7 launchers installed on a towed-trailer or truck.

Much like the remote weapon station, this contraption too was likely designed with trench warfare against Azerbaijani forces around Nagorno-Karabakh in mind. Known as the N-2, the MRL was designed and produced by the Garni-ler arms company likely somewhere during the 1990s or 2000s. [1] The launcher uses twelve TBG-7V thermobaric rockets (or its Armenian copy the TB-1), although any warhead that can be fired from a regular RPG-7 can be used in theory. The twelve rockets are fired remotely either in single shots or several rockets at a time.

Due to the TB-1/TBG-7V's short effective range (estimated at several hundred meters to a kilometre), there are relatively few situations in which this system can be put to effective use. In order to target enemy positions the N-2 would have to be placed dangerously closeby, making proper use of the system difficult except for defensive purposes. One particular scenario that comes to mind is the defence of friendly positions against enemy infantry, against which the twelve thermobaric warheads of the N-2 could be used with considerable effect.

Although it is sometimes speculated that several N-2 MRLs found their way to the inventory of the Armenian Army, these speculations appear to stem from their sighting during Armenia's 2011 independence day parade. [2] Never seen in (operational) use again, their participation during the parade appears to have been a one-off publicity stunt. In fact, the four systems shown during the parade might well account for the entire production run of the N-2. Though the design hold some promise as a cheap and light MRL, the question is whether sacrificing 12 RPG-7 launchers and the same amount of munitions that could be used far more accurately is worth the N-2's modest area-denial abilities.

The capabilities of the N-2 were apparently deemed insufficient for the Armenian military to commence serial production of the system. However, the N-2 serves as a reminder that there is no lack of ingenuity in Armenia's defence sector, and given some funding a system based on the N-2 could offer a cost-effective means of increasing firepower on the low level.