Ukraine will produce thousands of long-range drones capable of striking deep into Russia in 2024, Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview for Reuters.
Drones play a crucial role in the battles against the Russian offensive. The Economist reported on 8 February, saying drones, pioneered in Ukraine, are the weapon of the future. According to the media outlet, they helped the Ukrainian military destroy 75 Russian tanks & 101 big guns in 1 week in the fall of 2023.
According to Ukraine’s minister Fedorov, Ukraine has ten companies manufacturing drones that can reach Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“The category of long-range kamikaze drones is growing, with a range of 300, 500, 700, and 1,000 kilometers,” Fedorov said. “Two years ago, this category did not exist … at all.”
Fedorov said, Ukraine has rapidly deregulated the drone market and increased its funding, with the state acting as a venture investor. Last year, $2.5 million in grants were allocated to military tech startups, an amount set to increase roughly tenfold in 2024.
Fedorov said that most Ukrainian manufacturers are private companies in contrast to Russia’s state-dominated drone production. He agreed with an assessment by Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, that Ukraine has achieved “a certain kind of parity” with Russia in producing long-range drones.
The minister stated that more than 300,000 drones of different types were contracted in 2023, and over 100,000 were sent to the front. Ukraine removed taxes on components, simplified contracting procedures, and ended state monopolies in ammunition and artillery production that reportedly aided the rapid growth of Ukraine’s drone industry.
Fedorov also said that Ukraine has trained 20,000 drone operators since launching a military training grant program at private schools earlier this year.
Mykhailo Fedorov said earlier that Ukrainian troops started to use Ukrainian-made long-range counterparts of Lantset kamikaze drone on the battlefield, which Russian troops are actively using in the war against Ukraine.