Drone Sale To Azeris Halted As Maker Accused of Bombing Armenia In Demo

In a rare move, the Defense Ministry suspended the export license of an Israeli drone manufacturer to Azerbaijan in light of claims that the company attempted to bomb the Armenian military on the Azeris behalf during a demonstration of one of its “suicide” unmanned aerial vehicles last month.

On Monday, Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. reported the situation to the Israeli stock exchange, as required by law.

“The Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Controls Agency informed the company that it was suspending the marketing and export permit for the company’s Orbiter 1K model UAV to a significant customer,” the drone manufacturer wrote in its statement to the exchange.

According to Aeronautics, the company was poised to make a NIS 71.5 million ($20 million) deal over the next two years with the “significant customer.”

As a rule, Israeli defense contractors refrain from naming their customers directly. However, it could be clearly understood from the statement that the country was Azerbaijan.

“The company is working to clarify the issue with the Defense Ministry,” Aeronautics added.

The company noted that the Defense Ministry’s decision only affected the sale of its drone to the “significant customer” and not to other foreign buyers.

Earlier this month, a complaint was filed against Aeronautics with the ministry’s Defense Export Controls Agency in which the company was accused of conducting a live-fire test of its Orbiter 1K model against Armenian forces at the behest of the Azeri military.

Colonel Armen Gyozalian of the Armenian army said two soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack on July 7, according to the Armenian defense ministry’s “Hay Zinvor” news outlet.

The Yavneh-based Aeronautics denied the assertion when reports first came out, saying it “has never carried out a demonstration against live targets, including in this case.”

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