In an interview with Reuters, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, announced that Ukraine aims to manufacture thousands of long-range drones capable of delivering precision strikes deep into Russian territory.

Fedorov attributed Ukraine's recent successful strikes on Russian oil facilities to the government's swift deregulation of the drone market and increased funding.

Unlike Russia, where state dominance prevails in drone production, Ukraine boasts a predominantly private sector-led industry, with up to 10 companies producing drones capable of reaching Moscow and St. Petersburg, only one of which is state-owned.

"The category of long-range kamikaze drones is growing, with a range of 300, 500, 700, and 1,000 kilometers. Two years ago, this category did not exist... at all," Fedorov told Reuters.

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He revealed that the government allocated approximately $2.5 million to military technology startups through the BRAVE1 initiative last year, with plans for a tenfold increase in funding this year.

Fedorov highlighted Ukraine's remarkable production growth, with deliveries surging more than 120 times in 2023. He echoed Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) of the Ministry of Defense, acknowledging that Kyiv has achieved "certain parity" with Moscow in long-range drone production.

In 2023, over 300,000 drones of various types were contracted, with more than 100,000 deployed to the front lines, excluding volunteer contributions, which were also substantial, he added.

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Kyiv has in recent weeks been weakened by an ammunition shortage and vital US aid remains blocked by political wrangling in the US Congress.

According to Fedorov, the Ukrainian government eliminated taxation on UAV components and simplified procedures for both contract conclusion and decommissioning.

"In other words, we took all the blockages that private sector companies were facing and addressed them in six months by passing all the necessary laws and resolutions," he stated.

While the Ukrainian drone industry heavily relies on foreign components, especially from China, Fedorov disclosed ongoing efforts to localize production.

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"I think that if we continue this trend, by the end of this year we will have a lot of companies that have already made more than 50% of their components locally," he said.

Fedorov also noted that the recent surge in UAV production has strained logistics to the extent that rapid changes were necessary to avoid significant delays in deliveries.

He mentioned that in December alone, drone deliveries were 50 times higher than the total for all of 2022, emphasizing, "Just imagine, the system was not prepared for that."

Fedorov stated that since the launch of a program offering grants for military training in private schools at the beginning of 2023, Ukraine has trained 20,000 drone operators across 20 such schools.

The minister further elaborated that the state covers the expenses for every military person attending these schools, with plans to expand this initiative into a larger state program.

Additionally, there are plans to modernize and upgrade several training centers to operate at a higher level.

President Zelensky earlier announced that he had signed a decree to establish a separate branch within the Ukrainian Armed Forces dedicated to the use of drones and associated technology.

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Zelensky stated, "I signed a decree initiating the establishment of a separate branch of our Defense Forces – the Unmanned Systems Forces".

"This year should be pivotal in many ways. And, obviously, on the battlefield as well. Drones – unmanned systems – have proven their effectiveness in battles on land, in the sky and at sea," he added.

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Comments (2)

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Imokru2
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Ukraine is a world leader in drone technology, and its expertise will only improve. Springtime for Zelensky and Ukraine, winter for Putin and Russia.

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Finn Bjerrehave
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Tør man skrive : Læg Kreml i ruiner ? Droner er 155mm,s afløser i en mere intelligent krig.

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