Azerbaijan's state-owned flag carrier Azal is looking to boost its fleet, Trend news agency reported on July 13. Present at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, Azal CEO Jahangir Asgarov met with representatives of Boeing, Antonov and Ilyushin to negotiate the purchase of new aircraft. With Boeing, the official reportedly discussed the possible purchase of 10 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes in 2018-2020.
Azal already agreed with Ilyushin to purchase 10 MC-21 aircrafts in June, according to state news agency Azertag. Furthermore, the company has been negotiating the purchase of 10 AN-178 military transport planes with Ukraine's Antonov during the past month.
While Azal is boosting the country's civil aviation capabilities, the government is working on developing its military capabilities. Azerbaijan is an important importer of armament, spending between $3bn and $4bn per year on its military and on imports of equipment from Russia, Israel, and Turkey, among others.
However, at a cabinet meeting on July 11, Defence Minister Yaver Jamalov announced that the country has begun production of military drones, and that tests performed on them had been successful, according to istiglal.com.
Azerbaijan's militarisation is a source of concern for neighbouring Armenia, with which Baku has been in a state of conflict since the late 1980s over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding territories. On July 13, Armenian media reported that Azerbaijan was conducting military aviation exercises using helicopters and jets some 30 kilometres away from the border with Nagorno-Karabakh, and that the breakaway republic was monitoring said exercises.
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