Police launch probe of drone manufacturer
Police on Tuesday said they were investigating alleged corruption by the Israeli drone manufacturer Aeronautics Ltd. in connection with an unnamed “significant client.”
Details of the investigation remain unclear due to a gag order.
The company issued a brief statement after the investigation was announced, saying it “will cooperate fully with any examination of any matter, and will do its best to ensure that the investigation will be as quick as possible.”
Since its founding in 1997, the Yavne-based company headed by CEO Col. (res.) Amos Mathan, has sold unmanned aerial systems and advanced intelligence systems to more than 45 defense, military and homeland security companies on five continents.
In August, the Defense Ministry temporarily suspended Aeronautics Ltd.’s license to export Orbiter 1K UAVs to Azerbaijan after one of its drones targeted an Armenian army position during a live July demonstration.
According to the complaint, when two of the company’s representatives expressed opposition to the attack by the “suicide drone,” senior company officials continued with the demonstration and the UAV exploded several dozen meters from the position. No casualties were reported.
Aeronautics Ltd. denied any wrongdoing, stating that the company operates in strict compliance with approvals from the Defense Export Control Agency and that operational use is solely authorized by the client.
“Aeronautics never conducts demonstrations on live targets, and this is also true in the case in question,” the company said.
Although Azerbaijan was not cited in the latest probe, defense industry sources estimate that 20% of Aeronautics Ltd.’s sales are to that country, indeed making it a “significant client.”