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Ukraine's Deputy Minister Presents Vision for Defense Technologies – EuraActive

Ukraine's Deputy Minister Presents Vision for Defense Technologies – EuraActive


In an interview with EuraActive, Ukraine's Deputy Minister for the Development of the IT Industry and Digital Transformation Oleksandr Borniakov shared his vision for how the country can leverage innovations in defense technology to revitalize the economy and transform modern warfare.

Borniakov said the war could result in up to 100 Ukrainian companies worth $100 million, and perhaps 10 to 20 of them becoming unicorns in the defense technology sector.

The Ukrainian government is seeking to boost investment in emerging domestic defense tech startups developing technologies ranging from drones to cybersecurity software.

The cutting-edge technology these companies are now developing will change the course of warfare forever, he said, adding that Ukrainian-made robots could one day help “Americans protect the Mexican border.”

After Ukraine's military failed to launch a counterattack against Russian forces last year and the country's defense forces faced a shortage of artillery shells and armored vehicles, the military “began relying on drones, robots and electronic warfare,” Borniakov said.

At the same time, arms deliveries from the EU and the US have been low over the past few months, but Washington is expected to increase arms supplies following the approval a month ago of a deal to send weapons and funds to Ukraine.

“At the moment, drones are the only thing that can stop the Russian army,” Borniakov said, citing conversations with serving military officers.

He said Ukraine's defense technology sector is benefiting from “the government's efforts to keep as many people as possible out of danger zones,” which gives companies a unique advantage “to maintain a 24/7 innovation base and adapt products at a pace unmatched anywhere in the world.”

They are [the startups] The end result is a product that works 100%.

Turning the tide

Borniakov said that at the start of the war “the Russians controlled the seas, but now technology means they can barely even leave port.”

He said that the start-ups Magura and Sea Baby are making a significant contribution to Ukraine's defense innovations that will give it an advantage on the front line.

Magura's unmanned drones were used to destroy expensive Russian warships, while an Sea Baby drone was used to cause severe damage to the Kerch Bridge, which connects the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula to mainland Russia.

“The whole incident may have cost between $50 million and $100 million. The destruction of an expensive ship and the restoration of grain exports had a multibillion-dollar impact,” Borniakov said.

The deputy minister cited a series of innovations being used to strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities, including the Vampire heavy-lift drone used to destroy armored vehicles, the Kamikaze ARK-1 drone, the RATEL S robot carrying anti-tank mines, the Sirko-S ground robot, and the Ukrainian drone Termit, capable of transporting heavy ammunition and wounded personnel.

But the “vast majority of opportunities” still lie ahead, he said.

He added that Ukraine's military drones and robots are becoming some of the best in the Western world, but that “we occasionally receive relatively good quality drones from Poland and Estonia.”

“But we are unlikely to receive drones from our allies that can actually operate under real conditions in Ukraine,” he continued, explaining that most of the drones and robots supplied by Western allies still require testing and refinement.

Defense Software

Ukraine has developed a similar solution using Palantir and Clearview's AI-powered image recognition software for defense purposes, the deputy minister said.

“Domestic neural networks trained on battlefield data can automatically map all aspects of the battlefield, including enemy positions and enemy intentions,” he said, adding that Ukraine also has domestic software to analyze satellite imagery.

In addition, he said that the Delta situational awareness system was developed entirely by Ukrainians.

Growth Outlook

To support the industry, the deputy minister noted that Ukraine currently has about 15 funds dedicated to investing in defense technologies. Most of these funds are in the early stages of fundraising, while more mature funds still lack capital, he said.

Asked whether some of the funds from a new aid package Ukraine will receive from the EU ($50 billion) and the US ($61 billion) should be further directed towards the defense technology industry, Borniakov said it was up to the government leadership and the Defense Ministry to decide.

“We believe these funds will be used appropriately because our primary concern is ending this war that we never wanted in the first place,” he said.

He said he was confident “some of these funds will be allocated to defense technology” given the agreement the government and military have reached on the use of drones and robots.

According to the deputy minister, a government that values ​​human life will seek Ukrainian technology.

As an example, he cited Ukraine's Delta Air Lines-style early air detection system, which could help island nations such as Taiwan get full information about aircraft flying overhead. Last Thursday and Friday, Chinese troops conducted drills near the island, which Taipei denounced as pressure on the island's government.

Borniakov explained that the same system could also be used to curtail drug trafficking, as it would allow the system to track and identify anything flying at any altitude.

[Eliza Gkritsi/Alexandra Brzozowski]

Read more at Euractiv




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