Two weeks after its export licenses were reinstated, the Israeli arms maker Aeronautics Ltd. announced that it has signed a new $13 million contract with Azerbaijan. The company live-tested its products on Artsakh positions by an order from Baku, which is considered a violation of Israeli law and was under criminal investigation.
The new contract ensures that Aeronautics will also ensure the maintenance of the the Orbiter 1 Kamakaze—or suicide—drones.
In 2017, Israel’s defense ministry suspended the sale of the Kamikaze drones manufactured by Aeronautics Ltd. to Azerbaijan, after reports of live testing the drones on Artsakh targets was reported, resulting in a criminal investigation.
In late January, the Israeli defense ministry suspended the export licenses of three high-level company officials effective April of this year. While this suspension remain in effect for the individuals, the company has been cleared to complete a deal estimated at $20 million with Azerbaijan paving the way for Azeri forces to use the drones on Artsakh targets.
It is worth noting that, according to the Times of Israel, the defense ministry’s lifting of the ban on sales came three weeks after Aeronautics Ltd. was sold to Rafaek, a state-run defense contractor for a reported $231.7 million.
In 2017, it was reported that officials of the company refused the request to carry out live testing of the the Orbiter 1K suicide drone system on live Artsakh targets, and after being threatened by Azerbaijani, senior representative of the company armed and operated the drone, which is said to have missed its target without causing damage.
According to reports by the Artsakh Armed Forces, Azerbaijani forces carried out a drone attack in northeastern Artsakh on July 7, 2017, injuring two soldiers.