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08:34 AM, February 6, 2019
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Aeronautics orbiter

The Israeli government has revoked the export licence suspension of Aeronautics allowing it to sell the K1 Orbiter Drone to Azerbaijan.

The suspension had been imposed after Aeronautics attempted to bomb an Armenian military site on behalf of Azerbaijan during a demonstration of its suicide drones in August 2017, according to a complaint filed with the Israeli Defense Ministry and reported in the local media.

The Israeli firm had sent a team to Azerbaijan to demonstrate its Orbiter 1K drone outfitted with a 1-2 kilogram explosive payload, which was flown into an “enemy” target on but missed and no casualties were reported.

In January 2017, as part of a deal with Aeronautics, Azerbaijan’s Azad Systems began manufacturing the Orbiter 1K suicide drone under licence as the locally named “Zarba,” according to Flightglobal.com.

The contract with Azerbaijan is estimated to be worth US$20 million.

The company on Monday reported to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) that the Ministry of Defense had notified the company that the restriction was being removed immediately.

However, Listing of Aeronautics's CEO, VP business division, and another employee on the defense export registry have been suspended temporarily by the MoD pending a hearing, until it is decided whether to file an indictment against any of these employees, Globes reported Tuesday.

The suspension will be reconsidered once the MoD takes a decision regarding the indictment.

Sources within the defense industry described the MoD’s decision as a "dramatic" one that enables the company to renew its contacts with Azerbhaijan and promote the weapons deal under which Aeronautics will supply the country with self-destructing drones.

The drone can fly for two to three hours carrying its warhead and an electro-optical/infrared sensor before engaging a target.The company claims that its very low acoustic signature means the Orbiter 1K is not detectable until two seconds before starting its attack dive. However, if the target has moved or cannot be attacked, an operator can bring the aircraft back to make a safe landing.

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