Israeli Kamikaze Drone Maker, Top Employees Charged With Violating Export Law

In 2017, Israel's Defense Ministry said that it had suspended the marketing and export license for one of the firm’s attack drones to a significant customer in a foreign country

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An Aeronautics drone.
An Aeronautics drone.Credit: Aeronautics

Israeli drone-maker Aeronautics and three of its senior employees were charged on Wednesday with violating the law regulating defense exports in its dealing with one of its most prominent clients.

A gag order issued by the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court prevents the publication of further details.

The firm has been under investigation for the past several years. In 2018 the Justice Ministry said prosecutors intended to press charges against its employees for aggravated fraud and violations of the defense export law.

In an unusual announcement in August 2017, the Defense Ministry said that it had suspended the marketing and export license for one of the firm’s attack drones to a significant customer in a foreign country. Police later launched an investigation into the matter, and a gag order was issued regarding the details of the investigation.

Founded in 1997 under the name NETS Integrated Avionics Systems, Aeronautics manufactures UAVs for military surveillance and defense and for the commercial sector. The company nearly collapsed in 2011, but was rescued by private equity investors Viola, Beresheet and KCPS, which today hold a combined 36 percent of its shares.

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