Instead, Ukraine wants to use the collected data for its defense sector. “After the war is over, Ukrainian companies will go to the market and offer solutions that probably no one else has,” says Bornyakov.
In recent months, Ukraine has expressed its ambition to use its battlefield innovations to build its own military technology industry.
“We want to build a very strong defense technology industry,” said Natalia Kushnerska, project leader at Brave1, a state-owned Ukrainian platform designed to make it easier for defense technology companies to introduce their products to the military. The country still wants to work with international companies, she says, but there is a growing emphasis on home-grown solutions.
Kushnerska says building a domestic industry will help protect the country from future Russian aggression. And Ukrainians have a better understanding of battlefield dynamics than their international counterparts. “Technologies that cost huge amounts of money were created [overseas] The labs get on the front lines and they don’t work,” she says.
Open exclusively to Ukrainian companies for the first two months of its existence, Brave1 isn’t the country’s only attempt to build its own industry. Kushnerska describes secret technology conferences, attended by Ukrainian technical staff and Defense Ministry officials, where discussions can take place about what the military needs and how companies can help. In May, the Ukrainian parliament voted in favor of a series of tax breaks for drone manufacturers to encourage the industry. Government efforts, combined with huge demand for drones and the motivation to win battles, are creating entire new industries, says Bornyakov. He claims that now more than 300 companies are making drones in the country.
One of those 300 companies is Aerodrone, which started in Germany as a crop spraying system. By the time of the massive invasion, the company’s Ukrainian founder, Yuri Pederi, had already returned to his homeland. But the war motivated him to keep the business going. Now the Ukrainian army is using drones capable of carrying heavy goods up to 300 kg.
“We don’t know what the military is taking,” said Dmytro Shmyakiv, a partner in the company who was deputy chief of staff to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before Zelensky. He may feign ignorance about what AeroDrone drones carry, but the company collects massive amounts of data, up to 3,000 parameters, during each flight. “We are very, very aware of what is happening with every piece of equipment on board the aircraft,” he says, adding that the information about what happens while stranded or flying in different weather conditions could be reused in other industries or even other conflicts.
Aerodrone offers a glimpse of the companies of the future described by Bornyakov. With that data, the company looks at a wide range of options, both military and civilian, for its future after the war ends. If you can fly in a war zone, says Shymkiv, you can fly anywhere.
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