Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest aerospace and aviation manufacturer, transferred at least $155 million to two companies whose name have been associated with large-scale money laundering for the Azerbaijani government, according to leaked bank reports for the period between 2012 and 2014. The reason for the payments by state-owned IAI remains unclear.
The Orbiter 1K is what is known as a “loitering munition,” or kamikaze drone. The drone behaves like a drone, hovering around, until it finds a target and then slams into it like a cruise missile. In February 2019, Aeronautics reportedly completed new sales to Azerbaijan. The country has a hunger for Israeli kamikaze-style drones. The Washington Post reported in 2016 that it used an IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) Harop against Armenians as well. Armenia has complained about the 2016 incident.
To illustrate the importance of U.S. aid to the Israeli defense industry, the State Comptroller noted that in recent years it has accounted for between 34% and 43% of the IDF’s total purchases from Israel’s three biggest defense companies – Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit System and Rafael. The three account for 94% of all local procurement by the IDF.