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Kargu loitering munition used in Azerbaijan exercise

An STM Kargu loitering munition takes off during the ‘Caucasian Eagle 2024' exercise in Azerbaijan. (Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan)

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence confirmed it has acquired the Kargu loitering munition made by Turkish company STM when it released a video on 10 June showing one being used during the ‘Caucasian Eagle 2024' exercise.

The video showed a soldier unfolding the rotors on a quadcopter that could be identified as a Kargu and using a handheld control unit to instruct it to take off. It then implied the Kargu was used to destroy a vehicle, although the munition could not be seen clearly and there was a jump in the footage immediately before the explosion, which seemed larger than the one that would result from the weapon's 1.5 kg fragmentation warhead.

Exercise ‘Caucasian Eagle 2024' began in Baku on 4 June and involves special forces from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye. While the Kargu has been in Turkish service since 2018, the control unit seen in the video clearly had buttons labelled with the Azerbaijani rather than Turkish words for ‘cancel' and ‘return'.

Photographs circulated on the internet in October 2020, during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, showed more than two dozen Kargus that were purportedly in service with Azerbaijani forces, but the location could not be confirmed. A Kargu may also have been seen in Azerbaijan in November 2023 when President Ilham Aliyev inspected equipment used by the special forces unit of the State Security Service (DTX).

STM announced in July 2021 that it had received its first export order for the Kargu but did not identify the customer.

For more information on analysis of the fallout from the claim that the Kargu is an autonomous weapon system, please see

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