Uzbekistan has been accused of violating Kazakhstan’s airspace during a flight involving a UAV on 16th February.
The aircraft was alleged by Almaty to have over-flown the district of Beyneu the far west of the country. The type of UAV involved in the incident is thought to be an Elbit Systems Hermes-450 aircraft.
During the alleged incursion, the aircraft was reported to have remained in Kazakh airspace for 15 minutes, over-flying border posts and then returning back into Uzbekistan. The reasons for the flight, and the origin of the UAV, remain unknown. Uzbekistan is not thought to operate any UAVs.
The country is part of the Joint Confederation of Independent States (CIS) Air Defence System, hosting a Dnestr-M (NATO reporting name ‘Hen House’) ballistic missile early warning radar to this end. However, this VHF system is configured to detect missiles at high altitudes, and as such, any UAV would probably be able to fly underneath the gaze of the system. Kazakhstan’s only other ground-based air defences consist of a single S300 variant (NATO reporting name ‘SA-10 Grumble’) medium-to-high altitude SAM system, which would probably not be deployed in peacetime.
In short, this does raise questions regarding the ability of Kazakhstan’s existing ground-based air defence radar to detect incursions by low-flying aircraft.