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Tech-focused defence companies gain attention due to Ukraine conflict

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Milrem Robotics, a start-up that makes autonomous vehicles for battlefield use, has gained prominence in the arms trade following the conflict in Ukraine. The success of smaller, technology-led companies such as Milrem, America’s AeroVironment and Turkey’s Baykar has challenged established incumbents such as Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. Innovative technologies such as sensors, robotics and unmanned systems, often developed for both civil and military uses, had already begun to disrupt procurement before the conflict but have accelerated the trend. While established contractors are not at risk, the success of smaller companies underlines the challenges they and procurement agencies face in keeping pace with innovation.

As per a recent article by the Financial Times, the war in Ukraine has brought about a shake-up in the arms trade industry. The conflict has seen smaller, technology-led companies gain prominence in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by long-established incumbents such as Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.

One such company that has emerged as a winner from the war in Ukraine is Milrem Robotics. Based on the outskirts of Tallinn in Estonia, Milrem Robotics develops autonomous vehicles that are used to carry casualties and clear routes for soldiers on the battlefield. Milrem, together with Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, has delivered 14 unmanned ground vehicles to Ukraine, highlighting the success of these smaller, innovative companies.

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Other companies that have caught the headlines after the success of their equipment on the Ukrainian battlefield include America’s AeroVironment and Turkey’s Baykar. The Pentagon has sent several hundred of AeroVironment’s Switchblade drones armed with warheads, while Baykar’s armed Bayraktar TB2 drone has similarly been deployed in Ukraine.

The success of these companies and the speedy deployment of their products underline the changes sweeping through the defence industry and how long-established players face challenges from new entrants. Innovative technologies such as sensors, robotics, and unmanned systems, often developed for both civil and military uses, had already started to disrupt procurement before the war, but the conflict has accelerated that trend.

“Ukraine has definitely made governments think harder and deeper about their industrial bases, their supply chains’ agility and resilience,” said Trevor Taylor, professional research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He noted that “military effectiveness is depending increasingly on information advantage derived from sensors, data processing, computing and so on”.

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While the big defence contractors are not at risk from the success of their smaller counterparts, it does underline the challenges they, and government procurement agencies, face to keep up with the faster pace of innovation in the commercial world. The often lengthy development cycles of prime contractors mean that they can struggle to keep up with the rapid advances offered by more agile technology companies, said Johannes Pinl, chief executive of MARSS Group, whose surveillance system has been deployed in Ukraine to protect critical infrastructure from unmanned threats such as drone attacks.

“Agile tech companies have an advantage. We are seeing the beginning of the future battlefield: technology, data, and artificial intelligence,” said Pinl.

The article also highlights the importance of information advantage in modern warfare. Military effectiveness is now dependent on sensors, data processing, computing, and other similar technologies. This has led to a shift towards more agile tech companies that can provide innovative solutions quickly.

To bring everything full circle, the war in Ukraine has brought about significant changes in the arms trade industry. Smaller, technology-led companies have gained prominence, challenging long-established incumbents. The success of companies like Milrem Robotics, AeroVironment, and Baykar has shown the importance of innovation and agility in modern warfare. As the future battlefield becomes increasingly reliant on technology, data, and artificial intelligence, it is likely that we will see more small tech companies emerge as winners in the arms trade industry.

NewsTechnology NewsTech-focused defence companies gain attention due to Ukraine conflict
Delia Reynolds
Delia Reynolds
Delia Reynolds is a highly-regarded tech news author with an uncanny ability to captivate readers through engaging, concise, and insightful articles. With a passion for innovation, Delia meticulously dissects the latest developments in technology, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for accurate and comprehensive news coverage.

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