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New evidence reveals six-year history of UK supplies to Turkish killer drones

Adair Ltd announced this week it has ceased supplies of fuel components to the Turkish company Baykar Makina after discovering these had been used on armed drones sent to Azerbaijan.

Andair’s components were found in the wreckage of armed UAVs shot down in the war in Nagorno Karabakh by Armenian forces and documented in a report distributed on Twitter by the Armenian National Council of America(ANCA).

Brighton Against The Arms Trade (BAAT) welcomed Andair’s public statement and called on the other UK company named in the ANCA report: EDO MBM Technology Ltd,  to follow Andair’s example and cease its supplies of critical technology to Turkish killer drones.

Brighton-based EDO MBM Technology – a subsidiary of the 6th largest defence contractor in the US L3Harris (NYSE:LHX)- is the bomb and missile launcher manufacturer that designed, patented and produced the Hornet micro-munition bomb rack without which the weaponisation of Turkish drones would not have happened.

Unlike Andair, this technology was knowingly supplied to Turkey for use on the Bayraktar TB2 drone. BAAT can now reveal new evidence proving EDO MBM has continued to secretly supply Turkey with the equipment, components and technology for the last six years.

In November 2019 The Guardian reported that EDO MBM had supplied Baykar with critical bomb rack/missile launcher technology that allowed it to defy a US export ban and develop Turkey’s first armed drone. L3Harris circumvented US domestic arms controls by using its UK subsidiary EDO MBM in Brighton – under less strict British arms export rules and policy – to proliferate armed drones across the Middle East and North Africa.

At the time of publication, Selcuk Bayraktar, the Chief Technical Officer of Baykar Makina, and son-in-law of President Erdogan, responded angrily to the Guardian report. He denied Baykar had ever used the EDO MBM bomb rack/missile launcher and claimed Baykar had developed and designed their own.

New photographic evidence

Selcuk Bayraktar’s Twitter denial gained wide attention in Turkish media in 2019 but after the ANCA report was posted in November 2020, he deleted it.

The ANCA report shows photographic evidence of the remnants of a downed Bayraktar TB2 revealing for the first time the distinctive internal mechanism of its bomb rack/missile launcher.

An EDO MBM patent drawing from 2014 for the Hornet is identical to the internal design of the bomb rack found on the TB2 in the ANCA photographs in 2020 (featured pic).

A 2019 sell sheet for the Hornet bomb rack/missile launcher shows the Hornet attached to a Turkish Aerospace Industries ANKA-S armed drone and states ” The Hornet receptacle is now incorporated into two in-service munitions and is being adopted for other users.”

Export licence evidence

In 2020, the UK Department of International Trade (DIT) confirmed 18 Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) had been approved for EDO MBM to export Hornet bomb racks and related components and technology to Turkey between 2014-2020.

Most of these went to Roketsan, the Turkish company that worked with Baykar in its weaponisation of the TB2 between 2015-16 to incorporate it with the MAM-L and MAM-C munitions.

In 2016 the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported:

“Bayraktar TB2’s armament was completed after a 1.5-year operation. Baykar and Roketsan kick started the project by taking the initiative without any official support – a first in Turkish aviation history.

The national version of the rocket launcher unit previously supplied from abroad was originally developed, designed and manufactured for the Armed Bayraktar TB2.”

Records of EDO MBM’s exports of its Hornet bomb/rack missile launcher to Turkey cover six years from 2014 to 2020, well beyond the development stage. The UK goverment has approved the export by EDO MBM of hundreds of missile and munitions launcher items of equipment, components and technology specifically designed for UAVs to Turkey for over six years, worth millions of pounds, yet Turkey’s primary UAV manufacturer claims it not to use them.

BAAT calls for a full investigation of EDO MBM’s exports to Turkey and the immediate end of its supplies to the Bayraktar TB2, to any other Turkish weapons system.

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