Myanmar military arms broker supplied UAV parts from Austria since coup attempt

March 14, 2022

Miya Win International Limited, an arms broker for the Myanmar military, has imported parts and a full-scale training model for Camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) following the illegal coup attempt.

The items are from the Austrian company, Schiebel Corporation, and were sent to Myanmar via their Russian partner, OAO Gorizont, which manufactures Camcopter S-100s under licence.

Gorizont exported the items to Miya Win International in Myanmar on February 19 and 20, 2021, according to data from the trade database, ImportGenius. Most of the items were Schiebel trademarked.

Some of the same items in the Myanmar shipment were first exported to Russia from Schiebel in Austria on February 8, 2021, suggesting an attempt by Schiebel to circumvent EU sanctions.

Schiebel’s recent shipments come after the company sold UAVs to the Myanmar military in a deal worth US$17.8 million, according to a leaked Myanmar Ministry of Defence budget document.

In 2019, Myanmar Now and Profil revealed that the Myanmar military had procured Camcopter S-100s. The UAVs were publicly demonstrated by the Myanmar Navy in 2018. The Myanmar Air Force also has Camcopter S-100 UAVs in addition to the navy.

The Camcopter S-100 provides surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and is designed to fly up to 6 hours.

Before the transfer of the UAVs, war criminal Min Aung Hlaing visited Austria in April 2017, including to Wiener Neustadt, the town where Schiebel’s production plant is located. Min Aung Hlaing also visited a Schiebel stall at an arms fair in Singapore in 2018.

In 2019, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar identified Schiebel as a private company that has provided dual-use goods and technology to the Myanmar military for military purposes, despite EU export controls and Austria’s participation in the Wassenaar Arrangement, a global export control regime for arms and dual-use goods.

In response to questions from Profil in 2019, Schiebel stated that the UAVs were provided to Myanmar for use in mining and monitoring traffic, and that there was no contract between Schiebel and Myanmar’s Ministry of Defence.

Yet, there is no doubt that the Myanmar military possesses the UAVs Schiebel sold to Myanmar. Schiebel was put on notice in 2019 regarding their transfer of technology to the Myanmar military and should have subsequently blocked all supply of equipment, parts, software and support, whether direct or indirect. The 2021 shipments via Russia show Schiebel’s continued complicity with the terrorist Myanmar military.

The Myanmar military has also sought to procure electro-optical/infra-red camera gimbals for the Camcopter S-100. In August 2017, during the military’s campaign of genocide against the Rohingya, representatives from the Swedish company Trakka Systems met with the Myanmar military to discuss the supply of cameras.

Trakka did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar regarding their business with the Myanmar military.

Miya Win International’s links with the Myanmar military

Miya Win International’s business with Schiebel is just one example in a pattern of transactions in which Miya Win International and its associates procured equipment for the Myanmar military from companies in Europe, including cases that are likely to violate EU sanctions.

Miya Win International is closely linked to Asia Golden Phoenix Consultancy Services Company Limited and Trio Core Distribution Company Limited.

Nay Htut Win was formerly a director of those three Myanmar companies at different times and remains a director and shareholder of an associated Singapore trading business, Trio Core Pte Ltd. He is currently a director of two Myanmar trading companies, Bamar Commodity Trading and Meridian Trading & Services.

According to a source, Nay Htut Win is a close friend of Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter, Khin Thiri Thet Mon.

Miya Win International was named by the UN Fact-Finding Mission for making donations worth over US$70,000 to the Myanmar military in support of their campaign of genocide against the Rohingya in 2017. Miya Win International made subsequent donations to the Myanmar military in 2018 and 2019 for Armed Forces Day.

Axis Simulation ATR flight simulator

Miya Win International procured an ATR-72 flight simulator from the Austrian company, Axis Simulation. According to a source with knowledge of the transaction, the end user was the Myanmar Air Force.

It is set up close to Yangon airport in Mingaladon, and is used for both military and civil pilot training. The simulator, installed at “Flight Training Center”, appears to be on military-controlled land.

The Myanmar Air Force has a fleet of ATR 72s used for troop transport, cargo and VIPs.

In February 2020, the simulator received a licence from the European Air Safety Authority (EASA), a European Union agency.

According to Axis Simulation and the EASA licence, the end user, operator and training provider is Asia Golden Phoenix Consultancy Services, which hides the involvement of the Myanmar military.

Axis Simulation confirmed to Justice For Myanmar that the simulator was procured by Miya Win International, and that they have continued to provide parts and support via Miya Win International. Axis Simulation would not disclose the last date parts were supplied.

Axis Simulation staff travelled to Myanmar to install the flight simulator. According to a source with knowledge of the transaction, Axis staff also provided training to air force personnel to maintain the simulator. Axis denies this and claims they only provided maintenance training to Asia Golden Phoenix Consultancy Services personnel.  

EASA did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar regarding the simulator.

Haux Life Support Hyperbaric Chamber

According to a leaked Ministry of Defence document related to procurement, Miya Win International won a tender to supply a ten-person hyperbaric chamber for Myanmar Navy Seals in the 2015-16 financial year. The chamber was procured from Haux Life Support GmbH in Germany.

The Asia Golden Phoenix website also shows Haux as a partner and displays images of a Haux hyperbaric chamber, suggesting that it may have been a proxy of the Myanmar military in the sale.  

Victorinox knives

The Swiss company Victorinox also appears in Miya Win International’s network. The Miya Win-linked company, Trio Core Distribution, is a partner of Victorinox and arranged a meeting for Victorinox with the Myanmar military on August 22, 2017, as the military was committing a campaign of genocide against the Rohingya.

Victorinox confirmed to Justice For Myanmar that the meeting took place “in front of various members of the Myanmar Army at the Army Procurement Division in Naypyidaw.”

Victorinox supplied knives with an imprint for the 72nd anniversary of the Myanmar Air Force in 2019, with a total value of 6,541 Swiss Francs.

In an email, a company spokesperson stated, “we confirm that Victorinox has no intention of doing business, directly or indirectly, with the Myanmar junta or military.”

Trio Core Distribution continues to be the official Myanmar distributor for Victorinox civilian pocket tools.

Hitzinger ground power supply

The Asia Golden Phoneix website also lists Hitzinger ground power supply units for aircraft under their activities, procured from the Austrian company, Hitzinger Electric Power GmbH. It is likely that these ground units were procured for Myanmar military or dual use.

Hitzinger did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar regarding their business in Myanmar.

Stop the flow of arms!

Justice For Myanmar calls for immediate targeted sanctions against Miya Win International and their network of arms suppliers and brokers to stem the flow of arms to the terrorist Myanmar military junta.

More needs to be done urgently to enforce export controls that are already in place, including within the EU.

Justice For Myanmar calls on the Austrian and German governments to investigate the companies mentioned in this investigation and take action to hold them accountable for any breaches of the EU arms embargo on Myanmar.

The Singapore government and banks also must act to stop Nay Htut Win and other Myanmar military arms brokers from operating in their territory.

One year since its illegal, failed coup, the Myanmar military has killed over 2000 civilians and arrested more than 12,000, with 9,588 still in detention. The illegal junta has been committing crimes against humanity and war crimes with total impunity, including deliberately targeting civilians with airstrikes and artillery shelling, forcing over 440,000 civilians to flee from their homes.

Yet, companies are continuing to do business with the junta, despite their acts of aggression against the people.

It is time for the UN Security Council to take action to stop the flow of arms. We call for a global arms embargo now!

Explore the evidence

Spreadsheet with details of the companies and their directors and shareholders for targeted sanctions: Download Excel (151 kb)

Myanmar Air Force letter concerning a meeting with Trakka Systems (August 28, 2017): Download PDF (747 kb)

Trio Core Distribution letter concerning a meeting between Victorinox and the Myanmar Army (August 15, 2017): Download PDF (464 kb)

Extract from a leaked Ministry of Defence concerning procurement for the 2015-16 financial year (reformatted and translated): Download PDF (117 kb)