December 11, 2023

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BRP ROTAX engine on Russian drone in Ukraine?

CNN Network It aired a report by its chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, on Tuesday evening, Ukraine had exclusive access to an Iranian-made Russian drone. A plane that crash-landed in the Black Sea near Odessa after coming under fire in Ukraine has been recovered almost intact.

A Ukrainian military intelligence officer has given details of the Mohajer-6 drone to a journalist.

You can clearly see ROTAX written on its engine. ROTAX is an Austrian subsidiary of the Quebec company Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), based in Valcourt in the Eastern Townships, best known for snowmobiles or personal watercraft.

In the CNN report, the official explains an inscription on the drone’s propeller indicates it was assembled last February.

In another view of the report, the BRP/ROTAX variant number can be read on the “912iS” engine.

Screenshot, CNN

In another view of the report, the BRP/ROTAX variant number can be read on the “912iS” engine.

Iran’s role

Another photo posted on Ukraine’s Defense Industry site shows the use of the ROTAX name for another part of the engine. The Iranian government categorically denies supplying drones to Russia.

These photos from Ukraine's Defense Industry website show the word Rotax on another part of the engine.

Photo taken from the website of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

These photos from Ukraine’s Defense Industry website show the word Rotax on another part of the engine.

In 2020, after it was revealed that the Armenians were the target of Turkish Piraktor DP2 drones with Rodax engines, PRB announced that it would stop its engine sales to Turkey, while Ottawa issued the relevant export licenses saying “it is time to better assess the situation.

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BRP later announced that it was difficult to establish their authenticity and provenance as its representatives did not have access to the machines found or their serial numbers. It was not possible to determine whether these engines were genuine Rotax engines or fakes.

BRP opens investigation

Invited to comment on the CNN footage, BRP sent us the following email.

“We are taking this situation very seriously. We have already started an investigation with our distributors and are investigating the situation with a partner on Ukrainian soil to determine the origin of this engine.

Furthermore, we reiterate that Rotax aircraft engines are manufactured, designed or certified for civilian use only. BRP-Rotax does not supply motors directly to any drone manufacturer and has no contractual agreement with them. We sell Rotax aircraft engines through an independent global distributor network, and our engines are designed and manufactured exclusively for civil use and are certified by the applicable civil regulatory authority.

About the Iranian Mohajer-6 drone

Mohajer-6 is a drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) capable of being armed with four precision-targeted projectiles (missiles or guided bombs). Its maximum speed is 200 kmph and its flight time is 12 hours. The Russians used it to attack targets in the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Dnipro regions.

Serial production of the drone began in 2018 and 210 examples have been built until September 2022.

Photo of Iranian Mohajer-6 drone

Credit Media Corporation / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Photo of Iranian Mohajer-6 drone

About BRP/ROTAX 912/914 engines

Made in Austria, the ROTAX 912/914 are light aircraft variants of the snowmobile engine manufactured by BRP. They are among the most popular engines for propelling light aircraft and drones. Their low operating costs and exceptional power-to-weight ratio have made them the choice of over 200 light aircraft and drone manufacturers.

Many countries use or use Rotax engines or fake drones: USA, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Nigeria and Turkey.