What's the latest innovation in drone motors

Austrian engines for the drone war in Nagorno-Karabakh

The videos on Twitter shape the image of the fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. They show how kamikaze drones pounce on enemy tanks or how combat drones open fire on army convoys. This remote-controlled war not only plays an important role in the propaganda of both sides, but also determines the events of the war in addition to fighter jets and long-range missile systems. While Armenia has its own drone production facility, Azerbaijan is supplied by its most important ally, Turkey. This has become a major drone power - thanks in part to engines manufactured in Austria.

Turkey has intensively expanded its fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in recent years, and all branches of the armed forces and the secret service now have a considerable number of Turkish-made drones. And these are also used. For example in the fight against the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in Anatolia and Northern Iraq, against government troops and Kurdish militias in Syria or in the Libyan civil war.

Problem-free export

The drones from our own production are also exported from Turkey; deliveries of the Bayraktar TB2 combat drone to the Ukraine and to Azerbaijan, where they are currently also used for reconnaissance and attack missions, are known.

The latter is also known to official Austria, as the Ministry of Economics in Vienna confirms to STANDARD. The ministry also knows that Bayraktar TB2 drones are powered by engines made in Austria. These are being built by BRP-Rotax in Gunskirchen near Wels.

Parliament has spoken out in favor of an arms embargo against Turkey

Its engines, developed for light and ultralight aircraft, are in demand around the world and are also used for other drones. They also power the US military's Predator drones and are built into the Israeli Heron, which the German Bundeswehr has also acquired. It is noteworthy that the engines of Turkish combat drones come from Austria. After all, in 2016 parliament voted unanimously in favor of an arms embargo against Turkey.

The engines are free goods, as Wolfgang Schneider from the Ministry of Economic Affairs explains. This means that "they could and can be legally exported to Turkey without obtaining prior approval from the Ministry of Economic Affairs," said Schneider. It has been known since 2013, when the Americans' drone war against Islamist terrorist groups in Pakistan became public, that Rotax engines power combat drones.

Rotax itself emphasizes in a statement that "Rotax aircraft engines are sold through an independent, worldwide distributor network" and that the company adheres to all laws and regulations. "BRP-Rotax does not supply motors directly to drone manufacturers and also have no contractual agreements with them," said a company spokeswoman. (Markus Sulzbacher, October 9, 2020)