An Israeli Firm Reportedly Sent A Suicide Drone To Bomb Armenian Troops For Azerbaijan

Military Tech
An Aeronautics Orbital drone mid-launch
Aeronautics

ISIS may have pioneered the use of the suicide drone on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, but formal governments are increasingly getting in on the action.


An Israeli drone maker apparently attempted to bomb Armenian military personnel with “one of its unmanned kamikaze aerial vehicles” back in October 2017, the Times of Israel reported on Wednesday. According to the leaked complaint with the Israeli Defense Ministry, drone manufacturer Aeronautics Defense Systems’ Orbiter 1K suicide drone was dispatched to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region “at the request of Azerbaijani clients during a sales demonstration.”

Here are the technical details, per Joseph Trevithick at The War Zone:

Aeronautics employees reportedly refused to carry out the 2017 mission and company executives subsequently stepped in to fly the drone themselves. Though it’s not clear if this was deliberate or not, the drone reportedly missed the target, only injuring two ethnic Armenian fighters.

It could very well be that the executives made this decision consciously since Orbiter 1K has a so-called man-in-the-loop guidance system whereby the operator is either actively flying or otherwise monitoring the video feeds from the drone and they can see what it sees throughout the mission.

"The Israeli government has permitted private defense companies to demonstrate their wares in actual combat,” he writes, “but this is rare and is unlikely to have occurred in this case, since Israel does not view Armenia as an enemy.”

State-run suicide drones are nothing new: U.S. Special Operations Command, the U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Army have all independently pursued kamikaze drones deployable through man-portable systems. Indeed, the Israeli military has embraced kamikaze drones in recent years, and the Justice Ministry’s complaint primarily focuses on Aeronautics’ violation of the country’s security and arms export control regulations rather than, say, a new form of explosion delivery.

But the incident underscores the practical future of kamikaze drones in government arsenals, a rising concern among national security experts. In April 2015, a drone deployed radioactive material to the top of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s official residence. More recently, anti-government dissidents attempted to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with an explosives-laden drone during a military celebration.

Ironically, the world first learned that the Israel had sold suicide drones to the Azerbaijan thanks to an April music video from pop star Narmin Karimbayova that appeared to show one of Israel’s IAI Harop loitering munition systems launched from a truck-mounted missile battery.

Suicide drones: Not even once.

A U.S. Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) carries cold weather equipment as he begins to march across the Icelandic terrain October 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Capt. Kylee Ashton)

MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The United States will send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War to underscore Washington's commitment to NATO, a senior allied commander said on Tuesday.

Days after a NATO summit in London at which U.S. President Donald Trump called low-spending European allies "delinquent", U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises, centered on Germany, will be the largest of their kind in 25 years.

"This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO," Seguin, who oversees allied operations from NATO's military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.

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In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.

While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.

In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).

According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.

Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Valencia McNeal

The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.

The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.

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Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.

The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.

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