American Rotax Engines in Iranian Drones

About that ROTAX Engine in Iranian Drones

The Jerusalem Post features an article on January 13 that is important in calling attention to the fact that Rotax engines are in Iranian drones, and absurdly wrong on key points.

The article is wrong on the company ownership of ROTAX and completely misleading on the question of how the engines got to Iran.

Here is part of what I wrote for Asia Times on November 10, 2022!

“Consider the engine in the Iranian Quds Mohajer-6 drone now being used by the Russians in Ukraine. It’s powered by an Austrian company, Rotax, owned by US and Canadian firms.

“The Mohajer-6 is an ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) platform that also can carry four precision strike missiles. One Mohajer shot down in Ukraine features a Rotax 914 engine that generates 115 horsepower.

“Mohajer-6 is similar to Turkey’s now-famous Bayraktar TB-2 drone, which has a Rotax 912-IS engine generating around 100 horsepower. (The 914 is an updated version of the 912.)”

My November article also explains who owns Rotax:

“Rotax, acquired by Bombardier in 1970, manufactures its engines, parts and related technology in Austria by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). In 2003, BRP was sold to Bain Capital (50%), the Bombardier Family (35%) and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (15%). Bain Capital is based in Boston. One of Bain Capital’s co-founders is Senator Mitt Romney.

“BRP’s line of Rotax engines is the most popular engine of its type in the world and is used in aviation, motorcycles and recreational vehicles. BRP has distributors around the world and a service center in Iran.

“In a statement about the Rotax engine found in the Mohajer-6, the company said that it ‘has not authorized and has not given any authorization to its distributors to supply military UAV manufacturers in Iran or Russia.’

“The company statement did not mention whether it had sold engines to Iran for “civilian” use, but the fact that a repair center was set up in Iran suggests that a large number of Rotax engines have been sold there.”

In short, the largest single share in the Rotax company is American, not Canadian. The Jerusalem Post reporter appears to be ignorant about ownership and completely lost when it comes to how these drones got to Iran. They got to Iran through the Rotax repair center in Iran. You don’t need to look any further.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. The Jerusalem Post reporter should do his homework before writing nonsense.
  2. The US should clamp down on Rotax. It has failed to do so, despite Biden’s so-called effort to halt technology going to Iran’s drone program. This shows that Biden and his Secretary of State are faking it, at best, when it comes to Iran.
  3. Senator Mitt Romney, who was a founder of Bain Capital, should have spoken up and pushed his company to stop selling drones to Iran. Senator Romney has been totally silent, showing that he does not care that his former company is responsible for many deaths in Ukraine.

You can find the Jerusalem Post article here.

This article originally appeared at Weapons and Strategy.

Stephen Bryen is a Senior Fellow at Yorktown Institute.

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