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Israeli defence firm accused of drone strike on Armenia

15 August 2017
Screenshot from a promo video of Aeronautics Defence Systems.

An Israeli defence firm has been accused of carrying out a live fire demonstration for Azerbaijan against an Armenian military target. According to Israeli news site the Times of Israel, a copy of a complaint filed with the Israeli Ministry of Defence against Aeronautics Defence Systems was leaked to Israeli daily Maariv.

Representatives of the company were in Baku to demonstrate the Orbiter 1k drone. The complaint reportedly says that drone operators were asked to demonstrate the drone against live targets in Armenia, which they refused to do. Company managers were then said to have taken over operation of the drone to carry out the attack themselves, which reportedly missed it’s target.

Hay Zinvor (Armenian soldier), the official newspaper of Armenia’s Defence Ministry, reported an Azerbaijani drone strike against an Armenian position on 7 July, which lightly wounded two soldiers.

Aeronautics Defence Systems has denied that they carried out the attack, stating that ‘The operational action was carried out by the purchaser alone and on its responsibility. Aeronautics has never carried out demonstrations on live targets, and that was true in this case as well’, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

Israel’s Defence Ministry has issued a statement saying that ‘in principle  it is not the custom of the MoD to refer to issues related to defence export. The allegation is examined by the relevant organs in the ministry’.

The Orbiter 1k is a ‘suicide drone’, designed to hit targets with payloads of 1–2 kilogrammes of explosives.

The first known use of a ‘suicide drone’ was reported during the April 2016 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan was reported to have deployed the Israeli-made weapon against a bus full of Armenian volunteer soldiers, killing seven.

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