During the full-scale war, Ukraine has made a big leap in the development of the defence-tech sector. In particular, it is thanks to the Army of Drones project, which kicked off the development of the Ukrainian UAV market. Today, about 200 companies are engaged in the production of drones and products in this area, and 67 UAV models are contracted by the state. Back in 2022, there were only 7 of them.
Over the year and a half of its existence, the Army of Drones has transformed from a UNITED24 subproject into a major state programme for the development of national UAV production. As a result, the number of drones at the front has increased tenfold.
“We look at projects as policy makers – how to change the process and simplify procedures. In 1.5 years, we have adopted about 20 laws and regulations that have changed the rules of the game and made it possible to open up markets for the development of innovations and technologies. Already in 2023, 100 times more drones were produced and purchased than in 2022. This was made possible by policy changes, increased funding and the ability of companies to produce drones,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science and Technology Development and Minister of Digital Transformation.
In particular, last year, revolutionary regulations were adopted to simplify the approval of UAVs for operation, increase the margin to 25%, remove additional permits, simplify the write-off of UAVs, etc. In addition, in 2023, the Government allocated a historic budget of UAH 40 billion for drones, which allowed hundreds of thousands of UAVs to be contracted and sent to the frontline.
A transparent and accountable UAV procurement system has been built within the Army of Drones. In particular, an online monitoring system has been launched, to which the NABU has access. In addition, each drone now undergoes an official price evaluation. In the near future, the state will purchase foreign mass-market UAVs through the Prozorro system. This will allow manufacturers to compete openly for government contracts and the state to purchase drones on the most favourable terms.
Ukraine has also developed a separate “technological genre” – maritime drones that have changed the situation in the Black Sea. This is a unique Ukrainian development that can perform various operations: surveillance, reconnaissance, patrolling, search and rescue, mine action, and maritime security. And most importantly, combat missions.
In addition, the world’s first UAV strike units have been created within the Army of Drones. These are units within the Armed Forces that operate under a new doctrine and with a new approach to management. The strike companies have already proven their effectiveness on the front line. Between June 2023 and January 2024, they hit more than 14,000 enemy targets.
Training of operators is an important part of the Army of Drones. Indeed, the effectiveness of a drone depends on the ability to use it properly. With donor funds, nearly 20,000 UAV operators have been trained. The military underwent both theoretical and practical training, as close as possible to the real battlefield. Most of them are already successfully performing combat missions at the frontline.
Plans for 2024 include one million FPV drones and hundreds of other types of drones that meet the needs of the Defence Forces. This year, the state has allocated a budget for the development of the UAV industry, so we continue to stimulate the market and increase the number of drones at the front as part of the Army of Drones.