Chinese War Drones Seized in Italy Disguised as Wind Turbines

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Italian authorities report they have intercepted and confiscated Chinese-made drones heading for Libya while disassembled and disguised as wind turbine equipment. Italian customs officers seized the drone parts after a tip from US intelligence.

The parts reportedly included the main drone assemblies, drone control stations, and other ancillary gear, all disguised as wind turbine parts and packed with replica blades. They were seized from the container ship MSC Arina that departed from southern China and was headed to an eastern Libyan port controlled by military commander Khalifa Haftar.

According to Interesting Engineering, the drones in question were a mixture of Chinese-made Wing Loong I and Wing Loong II, both of which have previously been reported as being used in the ongoing Libyan Civil War. These drones are medium-altitude, long-endurance drones (similar to the US MQ-9 Reaper), and with a typical range of around 1,610 km and an endurance of approximately 20 hours (depending on payload and other factors), they could potentially operate across all of Libya.

Though developed primarily for surveillance, the Wing Loong series can also be equipped with air-to-ground weapons. However, the shipments seized did not seem to contain any weapons for the drones.

Photos and videos of the incident show the extent of efforts to conceal the true nature of the shipment – official reports show that the drone parts were placed inside protective coverings similar to those used for transporting wind turbine blades.

Furthermore, it is still unclear whether the Chinese government was involved in the smuggling operation, seeing as the equipment might have also been sourced secondhand from other places before shipment.

The recipient of the drones and other undisclosed arms is almost definitely General Haftar who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) in the eastern part of the country. The General has been in power since 2020, when he attempted to seize control over the rest of the country.