Federal agents are investigating whether a helicopter they have held for 14 months at an airport in Texas was earmarked for shipment to Iran.
The agents suspect an Italian company has already shipped two helicopters in contravention of a US trade embargo with Iran, and that the third was also intended for the country. The $8 million aircraft meanwhile sits in a Bell Helicopter hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday.
At least one of the aircraft believed shipped to Iran was equipped with night vision and autopilot technology subject to strict US restrictions, the newspaper reported.
A federal seizure of an Iran-bound helicopter is "a unique circumstance" for North Texas agents, said George Richardson, special agent in charge of the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security office in Dallas. "This is driven by economics," he told The News.
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