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Russia sets up a secret plant to produce Iranian drones

Jul 7, 2023

Moscow and Iran secretly continue to cooperate in the production of combat UAVs and are actively building a plant to manufacture combat drones.


According to Ukrinform, the Financial Times reports this.

As noted, the new plant is going to be built in Tatarstan. The enterprise will exist under the guise of the Albatross company, which is engaged in the "creation of agricultural drones." Although this structure openly sells reconnaissance drones to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the company will probably also produce kamikaze drones, the FT notes.

Ilya Voronkov, the company's co-founder, admitted to the newspaper that he supplies drones to the Russian military. He also said that the company receives 70% of the components for its drones from Russia, while the engines come from China.

The Russian firm Albatros, which previously specialized in "agricultural technologies," built its new plant in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Tatarstan, a location that the United States considers to be the center of Tehran-backed efforts to develop Moscow's UAV capabilities.

In February, the Washington-based think tank Institute for Science and International Security first reported that Albatross had set up shop in Alabuga, and they noted that job postings for UAV engineers had been placed in the area. Since October 2022, the "business park" has been looking for candidates for such positions as "UAV production director", "UAV designer", and "UAV chief technologist". The business park also posted an ad looking for Farsi translators who would have to travel on business trips, perform simultaneous interpretation, and translate technical documents.

In June, the White House released satellite photos that identified two buildings in the Alabuga area as a key part of Iran's attempts to help Moscow increase its drone production. "We're also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia," said John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council.

The Financial Times identified Albatros as the builder of the drone factory in one of these buildings.

Samuel Bendett, an expert on autonomous weapons at the Center for Naval Analysis, said:

"If Russia wants to do something covertly with Iran, this is a good location. It's on a river that flows into the Volga, so you can secretly deliver parts by ship from Iran."
"It's very close to Kazan, one of Russia's high-tech manufacturing centers," he added. "All you have to do is take a boat cruise."

Author - Serhii Kolomiets, 07/07/2023

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