Over the past five years, Iranians have official and state media ” was advertisedindigenousThe ingenuity of the Islamic Republic’s mass-produced Mohajar-6 combat drone deployed by Russia in its war with Ukraine.
But a new study by Schemes, the research arm of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, finds that the electronic components that power Tehran’s Mohajer-6 production are far from domestic.
The Mohajer-6 drone includes components manufactured by companies in the United States and the European Union, both of which seek to export dual-use technology to Iran that can be used for both civil and military purposes. subject to restrictive sanctions.
The presence of these components in the Mohajer-6 does not mean that its manufacturer has violated US or EU sanctions and RFE/RL has no evidence that this is the case .
The investigation also found that parts of the Mohajar 6 were manufactured in China. Among them was a real-time mini-camera made by a Hong Kong company, which said it “deeply regrets” that its products were used in the war.
At least one major foreign-made component of the Mohajer-6 was previously identified by reporters in a Mohajer-6 recovered from the battlefield by the Ukrainian military. This is an engine manufactured by the Austrian manufacturer BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG, a subsidiary. Made by Canada’s Bombardier Recreational Products.
However, Ukrainian intelligence has assessed that Iran’s combat drones contain components from about 30 different technology companies based in North America, the EU, Japan and Taiwan. Most of these companies are based in the United States.
Scheme reporters who personally inspected the foreign-made drone parts identified parts made by at least 15 of those manufacturers.
These include parts manufactured by US technology company Texas Instruments, which said in a statement it does not sell to Russia or Iran and complies with applicable laws and regulations. said.
To identify these components, Schemes reporters examined parts of a Mohajer 6 drone that the Ukrainian military shot down in the Black Sea near the coastal town of Ochakiv in the Mykolaiv region. They also reviewed Ukrainian intelligence records regarding the sources of these components.
The drone also contains a microchip bearing the logo of a Californian technology company and a thermal imaging camera that may have been manufactured by a company based in Oregon or China, according to Ukrainian intelligence. .
Western officials and experts in illegal technology transfer say Iran has used third-country fronts and agents to build an extensive global procurement network to obtain dual-use technology from the US and EU. ing.
“The exporter confirms the request from the United States. [United Arab Emirates] They’ll think they’re selling to end-users based there, when the end-users are actually in Iran,” said a senior research fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Daniel Salisbury told RFE/RL.
In September, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions specifically targeted at Iranian firms involved in the production and transfer to Russia of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that Washington will deploy in its war with Ukraine. More than eight months after Putin launched his gratuitous invasion on February 24, the fighting is still raging and showing no signs of ending.
“Non-Iranian, non-Russian entities should also exercise extreme caution to avoid supporting the development or transfer of Iranian drones, or the sale of military equipment to Russia for use against Ukraine. ,” Intelligence Brian Nelson said. statement announced sanctions.
Chinese camera, California chips
Development of the Mohajer-6, the latest model in the line of drones Tehran has used since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, began in 2017, with mass production beginning the following year.Iranian Defense Minister Amir Khatami at a ceremony marking the Islamic Revolution Said New tactical drones could potentially assist in surveillance, reconnaissance, and destruction of targets.
Hatami is a drone domestic designa depiction that was reflected in subsequent reports by the Iranian media.
“The domestic drone was created in collaboration with the Army, the Department of Defense and Quds Aviation Industries.” Tehran Times It quoted an Iranian military official in July 2019.
A demolition of a Mohajar 6 drone recovered by the Ukrainian military shows the UAV is full of foreign parts.
One of these parts is a bright orange real-time mini camera manufactured by a Hong Kong-based company. RunCam TechnologyUkrainian intelligence agencies have also identified RunCam as the manufacturer of the cameras, which could help remotely guide drones, according to documents seen by Schemes.
Founded in 2013, RunCam is involved in the development and manufacture of so-called “first person view” real-time cameras. “Our users are our friends”, the company’s website situation. site To tell RunCam has two authorized Iranian dealers. When asked for comment by Schemes about the use of its cameras in Iranian drones deployed by Russia in the war with Ukraine, RunCam said in an email: We specialize in manufacturing products for the model airplane hobby.We do not have any contact with military-related customers.
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Determining the origin of the Mohajer-6 drone’s thermal imaging camera is more difficult.Ukrainian intelligence assessments reviewed by the scheme indicate that it Ventus Hot Made by Sierra-Olympic Technologies, based in Oregon, USA, but similar to cheaper models. analog It is marketed by the Chinese company Qingdao Shipping Technology.
Qingdao Thundsea Marine Technology said in an emailed statement that it “does not do any business with Iran” because it “will affect our business.” The company said it specializes in marine services and is not involved in manufacturing. He also said he has not had a single successful online ad order for thermal imaging cameras similar to those recovered from Iranian drones.
Sierra-Olympic Technologies did not respond to a request for comment on the possible use of thermal imaging cameras on Iran’s combat drones in time for publication.
The microchip recovered from the drone also contained the logos of California-based Linear Technology and its parent company, Massachusetts-based semiconductor company Analog Devices (ADI). The company did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment about the potential use of Analog Devices’ technology in Iran’s combat drones.
The Schemes reporter also observed among the components of the Iranian drone a voltage step-down converter manufactured by Texas Instruments. “We do not sell to Russia, Belarus or Iran,” the company said in an email.
Texas Instruments said:
A Schemes reporter also saw some components made by California-based technology maker Xilinx, which is also owned by California-based multinational semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
According to Ukrainian intelligence, one of these Xilinx components was integrated into the video data link module on the Mohajar 6’s wing to help carry out the strike mission.
“This module transmits information from the board to the missile head, that is, the guidance of the missile. With the help of this module, we were able to guide the missile to the target,” said a Ukrainian military intelligence officer. told Schemes.
AMD did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
A previous media report on the components of the Mohajer-6 drone. CNNpresented evidence that the engine was manufactured by the Austrian manufacturer BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG.
In response to an October 21 report, the Canadian company said: statement “We are not authorized to supply to Iranian or Russian military UAV manufacturers, nor have we authorized their distributors.”
“As soon as we learned of this situation, we launched an investigation to determine the provenance of the engine,” BRP said. .
However, a Schemes reporter found an authorized Rotax dealer listed on the Austrian manufacturer’s website. advertised In December 2020, we established ourselves as a Rotax aircraft engine distributor for Iran.
The distributor, the Italian company Luciano Sullini Spa, publishes several magazines. advertisement Its website establishes itself as a Rotax distributor in many countries. Prior to January 2021, Iran was included in these countries.
Rotax website also list MahtaWing, a company based in Tehran as the official service center for the engine. The company, known as Mahtabal in Persian, repairs Rotax engines, including the Rotax 912 iS, the engine found in a Mohajer-6 combat drone recovered in Ukraine.
BRP said in an emailed statement dated 4 November that Luciano Sorlini Spa is the designated distributor of Rotax aircraft engines in Iran, but that “Since 2019, no Rotax engines have been sold in Iran and We will not sell engines to Forward. “
The Canadian company said it had “internal controls” that “significantly” restricted the sale of its products for military purposes.
“For example, the sale of BRP products to operators engaged in military activities in Iran, Turkey and Russia is strictly prohibited,” BRP said. “We operate in compliance with all applicable EU, Canadian and US regulations.”
BRP described Iranian firm MahtaWing as a “local service center” that “provides maintenance services for previously sold aircraft engines”.
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