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Swiss technology used in Azerbaijani military drones, report claims

The short conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh was ended with the signing of a peace treaty. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Drones using Swiss-made components were reportedly deployed by the Azerbaijan army in the recent conflict with Armenia, according to Swiss public television, SRF.

This content was published on December 7, 2020 - 18:00
swissinfo.ch/sb

Drones purportedly played a crucial roleExternal link in the recent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

According to an SRF news report on December 7External link, an Israeli drone belonging to the Azerbaijani army, which was reportedly shot down by Armenian forces near the town of Shuschi on October 18, carried technology made in Switzerland.

A drive motor cylinder engraved with the name Faulhaber Minimotor SA and the words “Swiss made” can be seen on photographs validated by SRF that it received from Armenian journalists.

The pieces recovered on the ground reportedly belonged to an Israeli Harop “loitering munition” drone, also known as a “kamikaze drone”.

In a statement sent to SRF on December 6, Faulhaber, the German industrial group, whose subsidiary Faulhaber Minimotor in Ticino builds electric motors similar to the one allegedly used in the drone, said its goods were subject to internationally applicable export control regulations. The firm said it assumed that these applied in the current case.

Swiss legislation does not prohibit the export of such electric motors from Switzerland to Israel and then on to Azerbaijan.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), which is responsible for export controls, told SRF: “Such electric motors are not covered by goods control legislation and can be exported without a permit. Such drives have a wide range of industrial applications.”

Seco noted that the electric motor is not used to power the drone, but most likely for its wing mechanism. Such electric devices can be sold to any country, where they can be installed in armed and unarmed drones, it added.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That conflict left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but large chunks of surrounding lands, in Armenian hands.

In 44 days of fighting that began on September 27, Azerbaijan troops routed the Armenian forces and wedged deep into Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing Armenia to accept the November 10 peace deal that saw the return to Azerbaijan of a significant part of the separatist region. It also obliged Armenia to hand over all areas it held outside Nagorno-Karabakh.

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