Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army claimed to have shot down an Azerbaijani military drone on Wednesday.
The Defense Army released photographs purportedly showing the wreckage of the Israeli-made Orbiter 2 drone. In a written statement, it said the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAE) was destroyed by one of its air-defense units over a section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” east of Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied the claim, saying that it did not lose of any of its UAEs.
The Karabakh army reported the incident one day after the start of large-scale military exercises held in Karabakh and Armenia. Armenian officials say that the 12-day “strategic” war games involve the biggest ever call-up of army reservists.
The Orbiter 2 is a lightweight man-portable system designed for reconnaissance missions. It is manufactured by Aeronautics, an Israeli company that has sold this and other types of UAE to Azerbaijan in recent years.
According to Israeli media reports, Aeronautics was working on a potential $20 million deal with Baku when Azerbaijani officials asked its specialists to demonstrate one of its “kamikaze” drones on Karabakh Armenian army positions in the summer of 2017. The reports said two Aeronautics employees refused to carry out the attack but higher-ranking executives of the company agreed to do so.
The scandal led Israeli authorities to suspend Aeronautics’ export license. But they lifted the ban on attack drone exports to Azerbaijan in January this year. Aeronautics reportedly opened an office in Baku earlier this month.