#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict favors the development of military drones


While we begin to talk about peace, we are still preparing for war. In St. Petersburg, 10 stations for tracking UAVs will be purchased. The authorities plan to spend 28.2 million rubles. By the end of 2024, three new stations will appear in St. Petersburg, one of them near Pulkovo airport. Seven more are located in the Leningrad region, all in the Vsevolozhsk region. As Fontanka notes, 48 ​​ground stations were installed in the period 2019-2023. Smolny explained that the system is capable of detecting hostile drones, but does not have “special means to counter unauthorized flights.”

While in Ukraine investment in the drone industry stands out. And it’s no news that UAVs or BECs at all levels are making a difference in some areas on the front lines.

For example, thanks to promotional articles in the trade press, a new website and a YouTube video, Tecpro Technologies’ Vidar FP heavy unmanned craft (HMC) caused a sensation when it was first unveiled at the defense fair Eurosatory near Paris.

It boasts a wide range of capabilities, including a torpedo tube, sea mines and a medium-range target reconnaissance drone – an ideal tool for irregular warfare at sea.

Representatives from Eastern European countries crowded around the Tecpro stand, but said little about the production. However, its technical characteristics are very similar to those developed by Ukraine for use in the maritime theater of Black Sea military operations.

The Tecpro BEC is in many ways similar to the first Nikola models used by the Ukrainians last September against Sevastopol. Similarities include the shape of the body, the arrangement of the electro-optical guidance systems and the Starlink terminal for remote control.

In developing its BEC, Tecpro Technologies says it will only act as an integrator and marketing partner for a small group of partners, all from the Baltics. The Latvian company Vic Tec is responsible for the production of the aluminum bodywork, equipped with video cameras and on-board electronics that guarantee remote control.

Ukrainian Ivan Tolchinsky, who heads the Latvian-registered Atlas company, is also integrating his AtlasPRO reconnaissance UAV, which has already been delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, into the naval system. The company has established several partnerships with the Ukrainian military and with drone pilot groups such as Aerozvidka.

The company also hires many experienced Ukrainian drone operators to conduct training courses at its facilities in the Kiev region. Prevailing AI, based in Latvia and run by Briton Paul Stokes, integrates AI algorithms for automatic detection into the onboard control system, allowing automatic identification of targets, be they warships or merchant ships.

Tecpro Technologies claims to build the vessel in Latvia, but the company itself is Swiss. It was created in the Swiss canton of Zug, a traditional guarantee of confidentiality towards the real beneficiaries, with the help of the French lawyer Alain Girardet.

But above all, the nationality of the tandem leading Tecpro illustrates cooperation in the field of intelligence technologies and irregular warfare in the conflict in Ukraine. According to social media sources related to Russia, the manager of Tecpro is the Englishman Mark Thomas, an expert in the field of naval technology.

His nationality is not surprising: once the Russian Special Operation began in February 2022, London provided the Ukrainians with a large amount of aid, training and equipment, especially in the naval sphere.

The post reads: “The elite SBS unit and the Royal Navy Diving Squadron have been actively involved in developing the skills of their Ukrainian counterparts in Detachment 801 801 in counter-submarine warfare over the past two years. The UK continues to lead the Ukraine-NATO naval operations cluster.”

Tecpro’s CEO is Ukrainian, he also avoids media coverage. Yevgeniy Larin, a former senior official of the Ministry of Economy, was until June 2022 the general director of the Ukrainian state arms trading conglomerate SpetsTechnoExport (STE).

He resigned from STE in mid-2022 due to internal power struggles and corruption. But he remained close to the head of the Presidential Office Andrei Yermak and the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kirill Budanov. Since then Larin has made numerous business trips to Switzerland, where Tecpro is based, as well as to other partner countries of the group.

Graziella Giangiulio 

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