Rep. Cárdenas demanding answers about U.S. parts in Turkish drones deployed by Azerbaijan against Armenians

Members of Congress are calling for an investigation into how U.S. technology ended up in Turkey’s TB2 drone, which has fast become a favorite of embattled nations. “We need a full accounting,”  Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif) told ProPublica.

“We’ve been paying close attention to Turkey’s drone sales and how these weapons have been deployed around the world,” Cárdenas said. “I’m troubled about the destabilizing effects we’re seeing and the human rights concerns that follow, especially in places like Nagorno Karabakh. We need a full accounting of the role U.S manufactured parts are playing so that Congress can conduct proper oversight.”

If enacted, the legislation would require the Defense Department, in consultation with the State Department, to produce a report on U.S. parts in the TB2s used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and any potential violations of export laws, sanctions or other regulations. 

Manufactured by the Turkish firm Baykar Technology, the TB2 can hover high above a battlefield and strike targets with laser-guided missiles. A range of components were made by manufacturers in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Rep. Cárdenas recently introduced an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The annual budgeting bill is often an opportunity for lawmakers to require reports from the administration on pressing issues, and Cárdenas focused on the TB2, highlighting Azerbaijan’s deployment of the weapon in its 2020 war against Nagorno-Karabakh. Images of drone wreckage published by local media outlets and the Armenian military at the time showed parts that matched those made by several U.S.-based companies. Some of those firms have taken steps to stop direct sales to Turkey, but others continue to sell key parts.

Turkey has ramped up TB2 exports in recent years. At least 14 countries now own the drones, and 16 others are seeking to purchase them.

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