By Gili Cohen
TEL AVIV, Israel (Haaretz) — The Israeli Defense Ministry is examining whether the Israeli firm Aeronautics Defense Systems was asked to actually demonstrate the use of an armed unmanned aircraft in the Central Asian republic of Azerbaijan against a military position of the neighboring country of Armenia, with which Azerbaijan has a border dispute. The Israeli company denies the allegation.
The Defense Ministry recently received a complaint alleging that after a team from Aeronautics Defense Systems came to Azerbaijan seeking to finalize a contract for the sale of company’s Orbiter 1K unmanned aircraft, they were asked to deploy the aircraft, armed with explosives, on a military position of the Armenian army.
The existence of the complaint was reported Sunday, August 13, by the Israeli daily paper Maariv. For its part however, Aeronautics Defense Systems strongly denied that its staff carried out such a mission, saying that it was carried out by the purchaser of the aircraft, and the company “never carries out demonstrations [of the operations of the drone] on live targets, and that was true in this case as well.”
According to Maariv, the two Israeli operators of the craft refused to hit the Armenian position, and after remaining firm in their refusal even after threats directed against them, senior representatives of the company armed and operated the unmanned aircraft themselves. Ultimately the drones are said to have missed their targets, and no damage was caused, but according to the complaint, one of them struck at a distance of about 100 meters (330 feet) from the position.
The company’s website states that the Orbiter 1k in is capable of carrying a special 1 to 2 kilogram (2.2 to 4.4 pound) special explosive payload.