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German Engine Tech and Iranian Drones

Tehran’s military drones supplied to Russia in its ongoing war in Ukraine have been created with Western technology, reveal findings of a new report. A German engine that Iran illegally acquired nearly 20 years ago powers the Shahed-136 drones it has sent to Russia, according to research published by UK-based organization Conflict Armament Research (CAR).

“Investigators have been gathering a growing body of evidence that has long suggested that Mado had manufactured engines used in UAV attacks in Saudi Arabia in 2019 and in Ukraine in 2022,” reads the CAR report. 

“In this Dispatch, CAR presents new evidence that conclusively shows, for the first time in the public domain, that Mado is indeed the producer of engines found in Shahed-136 UAVs in Ukraine.” 

The drone’s engine was reverse engineered by an Iranian business named Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar (Mado), which is a key player in Iran’s extensive drone sector. The Iranian company Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar, known as Mado, based in the city of Shokuhie in Qom Province. Last December, the company was sanctioned by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

CAR researchers found Mado markings on the spark plug caps in the drone’s engines, as well as sequences of serial numbers used by Mado.

Mado Engines : In 2006, German Limbach Flugmotoren L-550 UAV engines were  illicitly exported  to Iran. By 2009, Mado CEO Yousaf Aboutalebi, who has since been sanctioned was advertising that his then unnamed company had successfully  manufactured a domestic UAV engine .

About half of the 20 drones and weapons made in Iran that CAR was able to inspect in Ukraine between November 2022 and March 2023 were Shahed-136s, said the report. 

Link to Conflict Armament Research Report