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Russia buys components for Orlan drones in violation of sanctions

Thursday, 15 December 2022, 18:08
Russia buys components for Orlan drones in violation of sanctions

The Russian Spetsialniy Tekhnologicheskiy Tsentr company, which produces drones, is still receiving Western components for the Orlan-10 drone, with intermediaries in the United States, China, and Russia helping it to circumvent restrictions.

Source: a joint investigation by Vazhnye istorii (Important Stories), Reuters and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI); reports by Ukrainian Pravda and Radio Liberty

Details: According to the RUSI, the Russian-made Orlan-10 UAV uses components from US-based companies Altera and Xilinx, Texas Instruments, Microchip Technology, Analog Devices, Linear Technology, European STMicroelectronics and NXP Semiconductors, and Japanese companies Renesas Electronics and Saito Seisakusho.


None of these companies should now be supplying their spare parts to the Russian defence industry. Yet a chain of intermediaries has been established between Western suppliers and the Russian recipient. The investigators uncovered this chain by studying the financial and customs documents related to the manufacturer of Orlan-10 drones.

Alexei Terentyev, one of the owners of the St. Petersburg company Spetsialniy Tekhnologicheskiy Tsentr (STC - Special Technology Centre), said that the company had not noticed the consequences of the sanctions - on the contrary, it had become "more credible".

From January to October 2022, the STC, which is now under sanctions, bought more than $25 million worth of Western components through intermediaries, according to journalists and personnel of the Royal United Services Institute.

The Orlan-10 version of the drone widely uses microelectronics from US-based Analog Devices, Texas Instruments, Xilinx (owned by AMD), and Taiwan company Getac, as well as Saito engines from Japan.

The investigation says that STC purchased some of the foreign components for the production of drones (approximately 300 million roubles from January to May) from the Russian Citilink network. Another supplier of electronics is the St. Petersburg company SMT-Ayilogic. As a result, STC provided this company with 80% of revenue last year.

SMT-Aylogic received western components from Asia Pacific Links (Hong Kong). Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, purchases amounted to approximately 6 million dollars, according to their figures. The nominal owner of Asia Pacific Links is Russian citizen Anton Trofimov.

In addition, SMT-Aylogic bought components for Orlan drones from the US company Ik Tech. It was also founded by a Russian with American citizenship, whose name is Igor Kazhdan. From 2018 to 2021, it supplied almost 1,400 GUM3703FEBY processor modules found after the Russian shelling in Ukraine among the wreckage of the Orlans.

In February, two weeks before the Russian invasion, Kazhdan was arrested on charges of smuggling military and dual-purpose products into Russia. He admitted that he had started doing business with Russian firms in 2016 "bypassing export restrictions."

Background: Russia has been using Orlans since 2014 for intelligence and guidance. In addition, drones can intercept conversations and jam mobile communications. Propaganda messages were also sent from the Orlan drones to the Ukrainian military.

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