EU components used in Belarus spy drones, NGO says

A German-based firm has said that some of its engines may have been used for Belarus spy drones despite EU sanctions.

The company, 3W Modellmotoren in Rodermark in southwest Germany, which makes stroke engines for small airplanes, told EUobserver on Monday (10 September) that dealers might have sold some of its technology for use in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) belonging to Belarus’ interior ministry.

“You know it could very well be that they [Belarus] got engines from one of our dealers around the world. You never know what they [dealers] do,” 3W Modellmotoren managing director, Peter Wintrich, said.

He explained the firm does not sell to Belarus directly, but noted that his company has “no control” over resellers. The firm has dealers in 43 countries, three of them based in Russia.

“You can use any of our engines for UAVs,” he noted.

Its top of the line 3W engine comes with a €8,400 price tag.

The State Military Industrial Committee of Belarus conducted a number UAV tests over the summer in Minsk using the 3W Modellmotoren equipment, according to the Hague-based NGO Belarus Tribunal in a report issued on Sunday.

The NGO is alarmed that state authorities might mount video surveillance equipment on the drones to monitor demonstrations and track dissidents.

Belarus Tribunal says the UAVs could also disperse crowds by dropping tear gas.

Production of the vehicles was announced in August by the director general of Minsk Aircraft Overhaul Plant.

The aviation firm told Belarussian Telegraph Agency, a state-run media outlet, that it will produce at least 10 every year starting in 2013.

It described the vehicles as gas-pistoned engines with a 240-km range and top speeds of around 200 km/hr. It said Belarus’ defence ministry, the interior ministry and the emergencies ministry are its primary clients.

http://euobserver.com/foreign/117489