What they needed the most is their jets downing each and every one of the Azeris drones.
A very western view on things I think.
Jets would actually have serious problems detecting the smaller drones and the cost of Air to Air missiles would likely exceed even the most expensive MANPAD, so in terms of cost effectiveness using fixed wing aircraft to deal with drones would be expensive.
A helicopter like the Mi-28NM with MMW radar and modern electro optics including modern thermals, together with command detonated air burst 30mm cannon shells and bringing down drones could be much cheaper... the mobility and speed of the helicopter meaning they could cover a larger area than a ground based system, but for medium sized drones that launch missiles I would think ground based weapons or even MANPADS in drone based weapons would work best.
In fact for cost effectiveness a fixed wing drone armed with Shturm and Ataka missiles with air to air missile warheads would be ideal... chaff and flares would not protect the targets, the missiles could be flown up to any altitude to engage the target and being supersonic missiles they are not really something a drone could evade.
Your drone would be operating over your own territory and therefore a long way away from enemy air defence systems which would make it a difficult kill while local air defence missiles could take out enemy aircraft trying to take down your anti drone drones.
Perfectly within the capabilities of the Su-30s, and its not as if Azerbaijan can spin this as a cassus belli to justify further engagement from its ally. In a single stroke you significantly reduce the effectiveness of the Azeri artillery as well as force the Armenian ground forces to close in and capture Armenian positions the old fashioned way.
The problem seems to be that Armenia didn't really take part in the conflict and that the Azerbaijanis have S-300 systems, so there is a real risk to those aircraft flying about... and an Su-30 is a good plane but not really well suited to taking down small low flying drones.
All of those systems use thermal cameras. II still have shorter ranges compared to TI, plus you cannot really discount the ability of TI to single out hot spots amongst vast expanses of ambient temperature surfaces.
Thermal imagers were eye wateringly expensive in the 1980s... we are not talking about 10K per model... more like 100K, and it was not cheaper for the Soviets.... the technology was expensive.
The lag at lab level was not enormous in the early 1980s, but the gap was huge in terms of production and development... the Soviets didn't make a lot, and they were focussing on LLLTV systems like the system in the Su-24 and the MiG-27K and MiG-27M, and later the Shkval systems in the Ka-50 and Su-25T and Su-25TM. They had thermal pods like Mercury, but they were not stabilised and not particularly useful most of the time... even today the MMW radar on the Mi-28NM gives a better long range view at night than a thermal imager, and can be used for mapping and detecting moving targets etc etc.
Modern third generation thermals using QWIP technology in short and medium and long wave can be made relatively cheap and mass produced rather easily, so the advantage for the west has come and gone.
They had all these sorts of options for protection yet they skimped on sensors.
You are forgetting that the level of protection they achieved with their cheap mass produced tanks and high quality super tanks meant even if the west could see them at 5km they couldn't reliably penetrate them most of the time at any range.
More importantly it is not rocket science to drive a tank in a way that it is not visible over enormous distances for long periods... they do have smoke grenades and their tactics were not the same as War Thunder.
Western tanks used defensively would drive in to the rear of a building in such a way that they could poke their gun out the front and wear a house camouflage kit... if the roof does not collapse it would be hard to spot there was a tank there even after the front wall collapses and allows the commander and gunner to see forward.
A thermal imager is not just about seeing in the dark, a tank engine puts out enormous amounts of heat when it is running and the M1A1 uses a jet engine.
All through the 90s and 00s the Russians were offering foreign thermals with their tanks and for big contracts got licences to produce Thales cameras from France, which are the best you can get.... all the while the quality of their own Thermal Camera technology improved in leaps and bounds.
For their attack helicopters they looked at thermals from Sweden and France and also South Africa... the French ones got the nod I believe again...
Obviously with all the sanctions BS they are now making their own, which are now state of the art...
Someone ought to have been shot for this stupid lapse in planning.
Thermal Camera technology of the time was too expensive... it was like stealth... it was both expensive and not particularly effective at the time so they invested in other areas.
Personally I think it made sense because now they have bought the technology and are up to speed with the best... but now they can make it pay... even if they spent billions on it at the time these systems were so expensive only a few would be made anyway... but now their performance is much much better and every armoured vehicle they have has about a dozen thermal cameras on it, and their attack helicopters have multiple thermal cameras fixed pointing in all directions around the helicopter to give a 360 degree view. Rifle scopes are thermal and NVGs. Ships and aircraft and drones all carrying thermal cameras... the Armata T-14 tank has several thermal cameras in different wave lengths for different jobs... I would say they probably have more thermals in service now than half the armies of HATO.... maybe not as many as the US who puts them on their ATGMs, but Russian ATGM launchers have thermal sight addons for night and all weather use available to improve their performance.
Night warfare is not common even today and really only special forces would routinely use it. Those armoured attacks in Desert Storm were unusual at the time and were mainly because of the difference in thermals for each side so with a 1.2km range view the Iraqis would not see the American tanks sitting 2km away firing at them fully visible through their thermal sights.
But city fighting is another thing... sending troops into an unknown city to fight at night is a no no... even with thermal sights on your armour.
Fighting at night is hard... and it would just take one enemy soldier with a thermal and an RPG to ruin your day.
Any army would press home its advantage whenever they spot an opening. Of course you can expect that NATO would make use of its advantage to launch tank assaults at night.
Yes, but in the WWIII fairy tale it is the Soviets that are the aggressors so it is a Soviet Armoured invasion during the day and at night if HATO wants to form up its armour to attack them over night they need to be aware that Soviet rocket artillery with HEAT top attack munitions work 24/7 and are devastating... and at the time they also had SS-20 and SS-21 missiles to launch cluster warheads at forming up locations too...
And yet the Soviets deemed the topography exploitable by long range GLATGMs enough to invest huge sums in.
With four to six rounds per vehicle they clearly didn't expect all targets to be detected and engaged at 5km range, and of course such rounds would be useful against the problem of HATO helicopters who liked to hover when launching missiles... an ideal target for supersonic tank gun fired missiles I would think.
Again, if any military thought it has an advantage they would make full use of it. If you bet NATO won't attack at night then that's even more reason why they would attack anyway.
The Soviets would expect them to try... flares and ATGMs would be devastating.... remember the Soviets liked ATGMs like they liked SAMs... they had 100 times more SAMs than HATO had aircraft and probably 10 times more ATGMs than HATO had tanks.... and 10 times more tanks than HATO had tanks.
And they had T-80s with thermals too.
Not great thermals, but still thermals.
In a defensive position facing an attack at night they would certainly be good enough to make the enemy pay.
The 1st Gulf war showed that its entirely within their capabilities, what are you talking about?
Are you joking?
Desert Storm was an armour charge across a desert... it was no accident they avoided cities or infantry combat at night... the tanks and BMPs could use their superior visibility ranged optics to pick off enemy targets before those targets could see them... but there were cases where well camouflaged enemy vehicles were not spotted till the American tanks got much closer and the American vehicles came under fire... if the Iraqi ammo was better than the training rounds they were using the Americans might have lost a few vehicles.
In comparison the potential situation in Europe would mean the American forces would not be dominant at all... even if they could see the Soviet tanks at 2km range they would be surprised to find most of their shots do not penetrate, and the artillery support and airpower of the Soviets will be a little bit stronger than what the Iraqis operated with.
In Desert Storm the Americans were allowed to bring up armour to the point where they had local advantages in numbers... that wont happen in Europe either.
Is it really? Israeli equipment in the YKW was mostly old stuff, while the Arabs were supplied with stuff fresh from the Soviet Union including tanks with night vision equipment.
Which just shows a detection advantage can be squandered...
T-64s never had thermal sights and the vast majority of T-80s only ever rocked Image intensifiers.
Upgrades are continuous, when fitted with missiles often the sights were replaced and upgraded I would think having better armour at the time was of more value...
Armor protection of the tanks of the second postwar generation T-64 (T-64A), Chieftain Mk5P and M60