Ukraine inherited from the USSR a developed defense-industrial complex. Several decades of decline have crippled its capabilities, but this does not mean that the country cannot produce modern models of weapons and equipment.
Will Ukraine be able to surprise the world with the development of modern weapons systems?
It will show in the near future.
The focus of the plans of the Ukrainian defense industry is the development of modern weapons systems, which are often called weapons the future. The country is ready to rely on unmanned aerial vehicles, including percussion vehicles, and robotic technology.
At the same time, Kiev is ready to rely on private companies and enterprises in the defense sector.
Ukraine relies on unmanned vehicles
It is worth noting that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine in total got almost 17 percent of the entire military-industrial complex of the USSR. In total, about two thousand defense enterprises remained on the territory of Ukraine, where more than 700 thousand citizens worked. By 1997, the number of workers in the Ukrainian military-industrial complex had decreased by more than 50 percent. By 2008, the number of defense enterprises had dropped almost fourfold - to 447.
Despite the general recession, a sufficient number of defense enterprises and personnel remained in the country. In recent years, the focus has been on new private companies entering this market. At the same time, enterprises have survived in the country that allow the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Ukrainian industry is able to produce all components for UAVs: engines, radars, inertial systems.
It is important that such a large manufacturer remains in the country. aviation technicians, such as the state-owned enterprise Antonov, and the manufacturer of aircraft engines Motor Sich. Rocketry is also heavily represented, in particular, the famous Yuzhnoye and Luch design bureaus.
In recent years, Ukraine, like other countries, has been actively interested in unmanned aircraft. The military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh clearly showed how effective massing the use of unmanned vehicles can be. Even before the start of this conflict, Ukraine entered into an agreement with Turkey for the supply of drums drones Bayraktar TB2, which became one of the symbols of the war in Karabakh.
It is known that Ukraine has already acquired 6 such attack drones and three control stations, as well as one complex for the Ukrainian Navy, which was delivered literally in July 2021.
True, a number of difficulties arose with the operation of drones. In Karabakh, UAVs performed well in cloudless weather, while in most of Ukraine there are much fewer clear days. That is why the Ukrainian military does not give up hopes of creating their own drones adapted to local operating conditions.
UAVs "Falcon" and "Thunder"
One of the variants of the Ukrainian "Bayraktar" can be the drone "Sokol".
This project is being implemented by the Kiev state design bureau "Luch". Representatives of the Ukrainian defense industry believe that it will take them much less years to create their own analogue of the Turkish "Bayraktar". According to the most optimistic forecasts, it will take another two or three years. At the same time, Turkey's path to Bayraktar TB2 took almost two decades.
So far, the Ukrainian defense industry has presented only models of a new drone.
We are talking about the Sokol-300 model, which was first presented at the end of last year. The numbers in the title indicate the drone's payload mass. The development of this UAV has been going on in the country for more than two years and began back in mid-2019. Developed by the specialists of the Luch State Design Bureau, the drone is designed to conduct reconnaissance and strike at ground targets at tactical and operational depth.
It is known that, depending on the modification, the maximum take-off weight of the new Ukrainian drone can reach 1225 kg. Ideally, Ukrainian designers want to achieve a flight duration of 5 hours, a maximum speed of up to 580 km / h, and a flight range of 1300 km. The overall dimensions of the model are also known: the wingspan is 14 meters, the body length is 8,57 meters.
It is known that Sokol-300 will receive a Ukrainian-made optoelectronic station. Ukrainian engines AI-450T2 and MS-500V-05S / CE are considered as a power plant. It is also possible to install a foreign engine Rotax 914, it is with it that the drone will be able to stay in the air for the longest time - up to 26 hours. In the role of a UAV control station, the Ukrainians plan to use a ready-made control center of the RK-360 anti-ship missile system of the Neptune MC. The anti-tank guided missile RK-2P with a range of up to 10 kilometers, which is being worked on at the Luch State Design Bureau, can be used as a weapon.
Another novelty of the Ukrainian defense industry may be a kamikaze drone or a loitering ammunition "Thunder". This development is the flagship of the "Athlon Avia" company. Director of the company Artem Vyunnik notes that "Thunder" is not a classic high-precision weapon. This drone is an aircraft that carries a warhead with a seeker. At the same time, the drone is endowed with all the properties inherent in both high-precision missiles and aircraft.
The tactical and technical assignment for the development of the kamikaze drone was signed in June 2020, the development of the device was completed in July 2021. It is planned to test new items by the end of the year. The drone with a takeoff weight of 10 kg carries a warhead weighing 3,5 kg. The device can stay in the air for up to 60 minutes, flying at speeds up to 120 km / h.
Robotic platform "Scorpion"
The Infocom company from Zaporozhye is another private Ukrainian company that has started working in the defense sector. Like the private company Athlone Avia, this company has stepped up defense projects since 2014. The military specialization of Infocom is the creation of unmanned robotic platforms. Use your Robots the company hopes not only for military purposes, but also for civilian use, for example, when extinguishing fires.
The Scorpion robotic unmanned platform of this company is built on a tracked chassis and has good maneuverability. Currently Infocom is working on a whole line of small robots capable of carrying a payload of up to 150 kg. These devices can be used to transport ammunition and various military equipment, including clothing and provisions, transporting the wounded on a special cart, and sabotage.
As with any modern dual-use robot, the Scorpion can be equipped with various weapons. The exhibitions demonstrated models with a module with a large-caliber machine gun and ATGM. A police version is also available, which can be equipped with a tear gas device. In the fire-fighting version, the Scorpion can be equipped with a water cannon instead of a combat turret.
The main specialization of Infocom is the IT sphere. The company is working to automate production processes, optimize the operation of industrial plants and improve industrial safety. At least no problems should arise with the control system of the robotic complex. It is reported that the robots presented can be controlled using simple mobile applications using a 3G / LTE module, it is also possible to control the device using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules.
But the best situation in Ukraine is with rocketry and missile technology.
Here, the country is able to practically completely independently produce the widest range of military products: from anti-tank systems and similar missiles and helicopter-based launchers to anti-ship missiles, MLRS and tactical missile systems. In the foreseeable future, the Ukrainian military associates the greatest hopes with the Alder and Neptune complexes.
At the same time, a number of experts believe that in the future, the operation of small robotic systems equipped with anti-tank missiles will be more effective than the purchase of conventional armored vehicles, the same wheeled armored personnel carriers BTR-4. According to the Ukrainian defense expert Valentin Badrak, the new armored personnel carrier costs the Armed Forces of Ukraine about 32 million hryvnias, while a small ground-based robotic complex equipped with an ATGM can be much cheaper - up to 3-4 million hryvnias.
Test launch of the anti-ship missile complex RK-360 MC "Neptune", photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
The expert believes that in the future, robotic technology can significantly crowd out the conventional controlled. And for the cost of one armored personnel carrier, it will be possible to equip a whole subdivision of ground-based unmanned aerial systems. At the same time, Badrak believes that the enemy may not spend valuable weapons on small targets.
The same situation may develop over time in aviation. Where the value of the conditional F-16 can be neutralized by the use of a larger number of simpler drones with an adequate set of weapons.