Former Ukrainian space agency chief unveils uncrewed drone ACE One
Volodymyr Usov, a former Chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, who previously developed Kwambio and Gutenbergz startups, introduced a new project — the ACE One combat drone. Former president of Antonov subsidiary Alexander Los became chief designer and head of the board of directors of the developer Air Combat Evolution.
As Usov and Los told at the Arms and Security 2021 exhibition, ACE One is an autonomous combat drone with stealth technologies controlled by artificial intelligence. It will allow using not one device but a “swarm” of three, which coordinate actions between each other. ACE One is designed for regional air defense against other unmanned vehicles.
The ACE One is designed as a flat wing with a length of 11 meters and a width of 8.5 meters. Its mass will be 7.5 tons, while it will carry up to 1 ton of weapons. The maximum speed is close to sonic — about 1,000 km/h. In addition, the drone can intercept enemy drones. According to Alexander Los, the developers sought to optimize the project to the minimum cost of hitting an aerial target.
One ACE One will cost about $10 million. A swarm of three devices with a ground control complex will cost $32 million. According to the startup’s analysis, comparable competitor Dassault nEUROn costs $25 million per unit. But the nEUROn program has been in development since the mid-2000s, was experimental, and carried out many test flights between 2012 and 2016. In general, over the past 20 years, different countries have developed more than a dozen pilot projects of drones in the shape of a flying wing with stealth technology.
A team of 25 engineers is working on the development of the drone in Ukraine. The project is being carried out in cooperation with Ukrainian enterprises. So, ACE One will use the engine from the SE “Ivchenko-Progress” and “Motor Sich” with Gidrobest LLC overseeing the airframe production.
The legal entity behind the startup, Air Combat Evolution Ltd, is incorporated in the UK. Its ultimate beneficiaries are the founder of Girobest, Volodymyr Tit (also the executive director of ACE), and Andrey Semykin, owner and director of the Odesa real estate developer Gefest. According to the YouControl analytical system, each of them owns 30% of the shares. Tit and Semykin “raised investments at this stage” of the project, the company’s press service said. In Ukraine, the operational activity is carried out by AIR COMBAT EVOLUTION LLC, 100% owned by a British legal entity.
“Since the project is located in Ukraine but created as an international one, investments will be raised in the international market. We are counting on India, Israel, North America, and Europe,” said Alexander Los.
“I think that we will raise funds by September,” Volodymyr Usov, who holds the position of product vice president at ACE, told AIN.UA. According to him, the funding will allow the completion of the design documentation and ground tests of the main critical components within a year. The first flight tests are planned to be carried out in 2023.