Australian-made component found in downed Azerbaijani military drone

November 20, 2020
The Australian-made transponder found on a military drone shot down in Nagorno Karabakh. Photo from Armenian National Council of Australia Facebook page

The Armenian National Council of Australia (ANCA) wrote an urgent letter on November 6 to Australian company Microair Avionica, which manufactured a component found on an Azerbaijani-made Azad military drone used to attack the autonomous Armenian territory of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan's aggression was conducted with extensive use of Turkish-made Bayraktar armed drones, as well as drones manufactured by the Azerbaijani-Israeli consortium Azad Systems. The Australian-made transponder was found in one of the Azad drones.

The component is clearly labelled “Made in Australia from domestic and foreign components” and has the name and address of the manufacturing company: “Microair Avionics, Airport Drive, Bundaberg, Qld, Australia”.

ANCA's letter, which was published on its Facebook page, demanded that the Australian company “immediately cease the sale and supply (directly or indirectly) to Azerbaijan – or any other country involved in the supply of drones to Azerbaijan – of transponders or any other components for drones”

Microair Avionics replied that they had no record of the sale of the component to Azerbaijan or Turkey. However, it added that there was a “large second-hand market” for commercial aircraft components, including transponders and the company would have no knowledge of the owners of sold-on components, unless they were returned for repair.

Ismet Tashtan, co-chair of the Federation of Democratic Kurdish Society in Australia told Green Left this incident raises concerns that Australian-made components might also be used in the Turkish-made military drones that have been used extensively in war crimes against civilians in north and east Syria and northern Iraq.

“For about two years, armed drones have been used by the Turkish military against Kurdish communities in north and eastern Syria and in northern Iraq.

“The same Turkish drones have been used in Azerbaijan’s attacks on the Armenian community in Nagorno Karabakh and also in the Libyan civil war. 

“The international community should know that Turkey is using these drones to commit human rights abuses and war crimes. These drones have been used against innocent civilians, including women and children.”

Tashtan added that Canadian-made components had been found in Turkish killer drones and the Canadian government recently Canadian government suspended export of key drone parts to Turkey.

“Are the same Australian-made components in some of the Turkish military drones used against the Kurds as well?

“The Australian government and the Australian people should take a firm stand against the supply of any components from Australia for Turkish military drones.

“The Australian company Microair Avionics says it does not sell components directly to the Azerbaijan or Turkish military, but admitted they may have been sold on. This company – and any other company making components that can be used in military drones – should make it a strong condition of sale that the parts it sells should not be sold on to any parties that might use them in war crimes against civilians.”

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