Tech Force in UA has been working for three months. What is the project and what are its goals
Tech Force in UA started its operation on August 24, 2023. It united six drone and robot developers. They produce drones, including Discovery DR-60, Mini Shark, and Raybird-3. In early November, Tech Force in UA signed a memo of collaboration with BRAVE1, a Ukrainian Defense Tech Cluster.
A journalist from AIN.Capital interviewed the organization’s representative about their workflow.
Dmytro Shymkiv, a Board Member and Co-Founder at AeroDrone, a drone manufacturer, says that the decision to create an association that would unite military equipment manufacturers has been long overdue.
The association is needed to solve problems in the defense industry and communicate them to government bodies. Meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Digital Transformation preceded its creation. In August 2023, TFUA members discussed cooperation issues with the Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, and the former head of the State Special Communications Service, Yuriy Shchyhol.
“The most important role of an association is to interact with government. When one company goes and asks for something, then another, then another… And when there is an association’s position, it allows us to present the issues, problems, and challenges broadly facing the industry,” Shymkiv said.
According to the member of the TFUA Board of Directors, today’s problems in the industry are
- regulatory issues of working with ammunition and explosive equipment;
- access to testing grounds for new equipment;
- reservation of defense tech production workers;
- lack of forecasts for the volume of orders by the military.
“We know the needs everyone is talking about, but unfortunately, they don’t translate into concrete steps for manufacturers.”
But Shymkiv sees the most prominent problem as the State Standards of Ukraine (DSTU) for products, which he characterizes as “former USSR state standards” that have not changed since the Soviet era. In his opinion, the institutions responsible for the changes are not working on it and are not adapting Ukrainian standards to those of NATO countries or those close to them.
Cooperation with BRAVE1
One area of work of TFUA is projects that will help their members develop. On November 1, 2023, association members signed a memo of cooperation with colleagues from the BRAVE1 cluster. One of the goals set by the signatories is to develop the defense tech innovation ecosystem. According to Mr. Shymkiv, some experienced companies would like to join the association to represent their interests. And BRAVE1 announced joint projects that are useful for developers in the industry.
“The founder manufacturers cooperate with all branches of the military, having started supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2014 and delivered thousands of weapons manufactured in Ukraine to the front line,” BRAVE1 told AIN.Capital about the TFUA members.
The Ministry of Defense also recognized the result of their efforts. For example, among the first four Ukrainian solutions from the BRAVE1 ecosystem approved by the Ministry of Defense for adoption by the Armed Forces is the Sabre-guided missile system from Roboneers. The budget provides $39 million to finance BRAVE1 developments in 2024. The size of the grant will also increase: If at the end of the fall of 2023 it was $5,000-$25,000, next year it will reach $50,000, $100,000, and $250,000.
What we know about the TFUA members
TFUA currently includes six equipment manufacturing companies that have already proven themselves on the battlefield. Among them is
- UKRSPECSYSTEMS. The main products are UAVs and their components. This company manufactures PD-2 UAS, SHARK UAS, and MINI SHARK UAS drones, and thanks to their surveillance and patrol functions, they are used not only for the military but also for civilian tasks. For example, to extinguish forest fires, combat poaching, detect oil or gas leaks, etc;
- Roboneers develops and manufactures robotic systems that allow the military to fight remotely and observe in difficult terrain conditions;
- Skyeton has been producing ultralight aircraft and UAVs for over 17 years. Among the developments of Skyeton is the Raybird-3 unmanned aerial vehicle for long-term reconnaissance missions for civilian and special purposes;
- AeroDrone is a UAV manufacturing company. In particular, in December last year, the team was certified and authorized to operate two types of drones in the Armed Forces of Ukraine: E-300 Enterprise (payload up to 300 kg) and D-80 Discovery (payload up to 80 kg);
- Deviro manufactures UAVs, in particular, such systems as CICONIA and RALLUS, which can operate in reasonably harsh weather conditions and for more than 2 hours;
- ISR Defence is an innovative UAV and robotics company. Full development cycle. According to media reports, in April 2023, ISR Defense unveiled a drone that can destroy enemy armored vehicles with aerial bombs.
The Board of Directors consists of Vadym Yunyk, President of Technological Forces, Kateryna Mykhalko, Executive Director, and four representatives of the association’s member companies. They are Anton Skrypnyk, Oleksandr Stepura, Dmytro Shymkiv, and Kyrylo Zabolotnyi.
Currently, the TFUA aims to:
- replace people with robots in the war;
- adequate supply of the military;
- localization of military developments and production;
- integration of the Ukrainian defense tech market into the global one.
In addition to dialog with the government, participants receive navigation in industry regulations, technical expertise and support from peers, additional funding, and public protection of their businesses.
To join the Tech Force, you need to have a recommendation from current TFU members and a registered legal entity in Ukraine. Then, the candidate fills out a questionnaire, which the Board of Directors uses to check their integrity. The candidate pays a fixed annual fee, which depends on the company’s size, and receives a membership certificate. The applicants for TFUA can fill out an application here. Also, three job openings from TFUA have appeared on the Lobby X job platform: The organization aims to hire a lawyer, a communications specialist and a community manager.