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  2. Journalists uncovered details of production of Iranian drones in Tatarstan. This is summary of their investigation.

Journalists uncovered details of production of Iranian drones in Tatarstan. This is summary of their investigation.

Source: https://tatarstan.ru/press/photo.htm/photoreport/8580019.htm/
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A joint investigation conducted by journalists from Protocol and the RZVRT YouTube channel shed light on the production of combat drones in Tatarstan. To avoid sending their personnel to the frontlines, the local Alabuga enterprise secured a small defense order, launching a facility for assembling and manufacturing Iranian combat drones. The deal with Iran is estimated to be worth up to 130 billion rubles ($1,386,651,500), with approximately 70 Shahid production kits delivered to Russia in just two weeks. 7x7 presents to your attention the key findings from the investigation.

From cultivating outstanding specialists to employing volunteers for warfare

In 2015, the Financial Times recognized the Alabuga Special Economic Zone, situated near the town of Yelabuga in Tatarstan, as the best in Europe. Numerous factories had been established and favorable conditions introduced to attract both Russian and foreign investors. In 2016, Alabuga accounted for 74% of foreign direct investment in the entire republic.

In 2021, the head of Tatarstan inaugurated the Alabuga Polytech educational center, aimed at providing employment opportunities for graduates in the same production field. The newly constructed facility was equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories for industrial robotics, mechatronics, and automation. Instead of traditional entrance exams, students engaged in interactive games through a dedicated application, and instead of dormitories, they lived in two-person studios. The innovation college aimed to raise the next generation of talented individuals.

However, the situation at Alabuga drastically changed after February 24, 2022, with the imposition of economic sanctions. The economic zone witnessed an exodus of foreign residents, including the largest taxpayer, American car manufacturer Ford Sollers, which ceased operations. Over a thousand employees were laid off.

Source: tatarstan.ru

Following the announcement of mobilization, the company received an order to deploy its share of employees to the frontline. To retain its own workforce, Alabuga's HR department began to recruit volunteers from outside. These individuals were officially hired as junior staff members, and their information was subsequently forwarded to the military enlistment office. Alongside employment, the volunteers were offered beds in the finest dormitory building and provided with the necessary equipment.

Production of combat drones in exchange for personnel’s immunity to mobilization

However, the resources of this method had quickly exhausted. Then it was decided to take a small defense order which would guarantee protection for employees from getting mobilized. The investigators' source claims that at first, Alabuga planned to produce bullet-proof vests, but eventually, the administration chose combat drones.

Alabuga took on the task of producing Russian drones known as Orlan-10. Subsequently, Automation and Programming Technologies, another company involved in drone production, placed an order with Alabuga for 100 drone bodies to be delivered by March 1, 2023. Alabuga began seeking partners for production. As a result, LLC Albatross was established within the economic zone, and companies such as Autel and False Target were included as separate projects under the umbrella of Alabuga.

The establishment of a drone production franchise

Sources cited by the newspaper also verify the claims made by US authorities regarding the joint construction of a drone manufacturing plant in Yelabuga by Iran and Russia. The contract entails the training of specialists within the Iranian production territory, as well as the transfer of layouts, equipment lists, technological processes, and design documentation. According to these sources, the relevant document was signed by Sergei Shoigu, followed by Vladimir Putin.

Source: tatarstan.ru

The implementation of the first stage of the deal, involving the assembly of Iranian drones, is currently underway at Alabuga. The contract includes the supply of complete packages of components for Shahid drones. Within two weeks, approximately 70 Shahid drones have been delivered from Iran to Russia. Sources indicate that Alabuga instead of purchasing drones has acquired the rights to "organize the production of drones on a turnkey basis."

Processor for drones from Aliexpress

Over time, the supply of components from Iran is expected to significantly decrease. Initially, the hull will be excluded from the supply list as it can be easily manufactured. Then, Iran will cease supplying the GPS module and processor, with Alabuga obtaining the processor from Aliexpress. The production process will eventually involve the creation of in-house engines for combat drones.

The most challenging aspect of drone production lies in the development of the warhead. A workshop for its production needs to be situated in a pit, with no buildings allowed within a radius of several kilometers. Alabuga will require time to establish this project. In the end, Iran will solely supply Alabuga with the combat components, and it is estimated that it will take approximately two to three years to completely halt the delivery of component parts from Iran.

The head of VTB participated in the financing of the deal

Regarding payment for the deal, sources indicate that Iran initially requested gold instead of rubles. However, later Iran demanded payment in US dollars.

The government at first provided funding for the contract amounting to 80 billion rubles ($895,600,920), but it was later reduced to 30 billion rubles ($335,850,345). The overall cost of the entire deal is estimated to be up to 130 billion rubles ($1,386,651,500).

Sources also suggest that Andrey Kostin, the head of VTB Bank, was involved in the deal on the Russian side. He may have facilitated additional funding of 50 billion rubles ($533,327,500). Indirect confirmation of this theory can be seen in the launch of VTB's money transfer service to Iran and the opening of the bank's office in Iran.



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