Jan 5, 2023 - News

Iranian attack drone included parts made by 2 Texas companies

Aftermath of a Russian drone attack in the early morning on Dec. 19, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Parts made by Austin semiconductor manufacturer NXP and other U.S. and Western companies were found inside an Iranian-made drone Russia used to attack Ukraine last fall, CNN first reported Wednesday.

The big picture: The White House created a task force last month to investigate how the technology, which included U.S. and Western semiconductors, GPS modules and even engines, ended up in Iranian drones.

  • The Ukrainian intelligence assessment obtained by CNN showed that of the 52 components Ukrainians removed from the drone, 40 appear to have been manufactured by 13 different American companies.

Why it matters: The intelligent assessment is further proof that despite sanctions, Iran is still finding an abundance of commercially available technology, CNN reported.

Zoom in: The drone included parts from two Texas companies — a microprocessor by NXP, a Dutch company with U.S. headquarters in Austin, and nearly two dozen parts built by Dallas-based Texas Instruments, including microcontrollers, voltage regulators and digital signal controllers.

What they're saying: The companies condemned misuse of their technology.

  • Jacey Zuniga, spokesperson for NXP USA, said in a statement that the company "complies with all applicable export control restrictions and sanctions imposed by the countries in which we operate. Military applications are not a focus area for NXP. As a company, we are vehemently opposed to our products being used for human rights violations."
  • "TI is not selling any products into Russia, Belarus or Iran," Texas Instruments said in a statement. "TI complies with applicable laws and regulations in the countries where we operate, and partners with law enforcement organizations as necessary and appropriate. Additionally, we do not support or condone the use of our products in applications they weren't designed for."

The intrigue: TI is well known for its calculators, but the company has been building more semiconductor factories in Texas and Utah.

Flashback: NXP has rapidly expanded in Austin in recent years, but the Austin ISD school board rejected a tax break last month for the company's proposed multibillion dollar expansion in east Austin.

  • In May, NXP submitted two incentives applications, revealing a plan to invest billions at one of its two Austin campuses: a 153-acre site in southwest Austin or a 78-acre site in east Austin.
  • NXP asked for Chapter 313 state incentives, which allow businesses to cap property value for a portion of school taxes for 10 years, and estimated it would generate $62 million more for the district.

The bottom line: It's difficult to control parts in the global market, and Iran and Russia are going to try to go around sanctions, experts told CNN.


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