The CNN Network broadcast a report by its chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward on Tuesday evening, which had exclusive access to an Iranian-made Russian drone in Ukraine. The aircraft, which landed in the Black Sea near Odessa after coming under Ukrainian fire, was recovered almost intact.
A Ukrainian military intelligence officer is seen in the report giving details of the Mohajer-6 drone to the journalist.
You can clearly see the word ROTAX written on its engine. ROTAX is an Austrian subsidiary belonging to the Quebec company Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) based in Valcourt, in the Eastern Townships, which is best known for its snowmobiles or personal watercraft.
In the CNN report, the officer explains an inscription on the drone’s propeller that appears to indicate it was assembled last February.
In another shot of the report, we can read on the “912iS” engine, the number of a BRP/ROTAX variant.
Another photo posted on the Defense Industry of Ukraine site shows the ROTAX name applied to another part of the engine. The Iranian government categorically denies supplying drones to Russia.
Photo taken from the Defense Industry of Ukraine website
These photos from the Defense Industry of Ukraine website show the word Rotax on another part of the engine.
In 2020, as soon as the Armenians were revealed to be the target of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones with Rotax engine, BRP announced the suspension of its engine sales to Turkey while Ottawa suspended the relevant export licenses “time to better assess the situation.
BRP then declared that their authenticity and provenance were difficult to establish since its representatives did not have access to the found engines or their serial numbers. It also made it impossible to determine whether these engines were actually Rotax engines or counterfeits.
BRP opens an investigation
Called to comment on the CNN footage, BRP sent us the following email.
“We take this situation very seriously. We have already started an investigation in collaboration with our distributors and are exploring the situation with a partner on Ukrainian soil to try to determine the origin of this engine.
Further, we reiterate that Rotax aircraft engines are produced, designed or certified for civilian use only. BRP-Rotax does not supply motors directly to any drone manufacturer and has no contractual agreement with them. We sell Rotax aircraft engines through an independent worldwide network of distributors and our engines are exclusively designed and produced for civil use and are certified by the applicable civil regulatory authority.”
About the Iranian Mohajer-6 drone
The Mohajer-6 is a drone (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) capable of being armed with four precision-targeting projectiles (missiles or guided bombs). Its maximum speed is 200 km/h, its flight time 12 hours. The Russians used it to hit targets in the Odessa, Mykolaiv and Dnipro regions.
Serial production of the drone began in 2018 and 210 examples have been built as of September 2022.
Crédit Media Corporation / Wikipedia Creative Commons
Photo of the Iranian Mohajer-6 drone
About BRP/ROTAX 912/914 Engines
Manufactured in Austria, the ROTAX 912/914 are light aircraft variants of the snowmobile engine manufactured by BRP. They are among the most popular engines for propelling light aircraft and drones. Their low operating cost and exceptional power-to-weight ratio have made them the choice of over 200 light aircraft and drone manufacturers.
Several countries have used or are using drones armed with Rotax engines or counterfeits: United States, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Nigeria and Turkey.