YEREVAN — According to reports from the Karabakh conflict zone, an Israeli-made Harop remote-controlled, explosive-filled kamikaze-plane designed to dive-bomb enemy forces was used by Azerbaijan to kill seven Armenian volunteers in a bus.
Video footage by Karen Chilingaryan of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on April 4 in the mountainous enclave captured the flight of a drone that military observers say is likely an Israeli-made Harop model.
The footage shows the craft flying through the air, with a distinctive whine heard from many drones, and then diving behind the crest of a hill.
The Armenian Defense Ministry spokesma Artsrun Hovhannisyan later announced that seven people were killed in what he said was an Azerbaijani drone attack on a bus carrying volunteers to the region. Hovhannisyan also posted about the Harop on his Facebook page indicating that it was piloted by Azerbaijani forces.
Armenian MP Edmon Marukyan called the use of the Israeli-made weapon by Azerbaijan as war crimes, violating the principles of international humanitarian law, enshrined in several international instruments.
According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, the Harop is packed with a 15-kilogram explosive warhead and specifically designed for kamikaze missions.
Last year, Harop’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries, announced it was flight-testing the model for an undisclosed customer. IHS Jane’s said in a report posted on April 6 that that customer now appeared to be Azerbaijan.
According to the manufacturer’s website, the Harop can be remotely piloted or it can find targets autonomously based on radar or radio wave emissions. These two targeting methods are ideal for attacking enemy air defenses, as the smaller drone can evade weapons and detection systems designed to target much larger aircraft.