Three years ago, Ukraine was facing an unexpected challenge – Russia’s military aggression. The annexation of Crimea and the first battles in Donbass were a total shock to the Ukrainian armed forces and the domestic defense industry. At that time, defense and law enforcement agencies were uncapable of performing their tasks; weapons and military equipment were not ready for operational use; and the military-industrial complex could not meet the needs of the Army.

Unfortunately, over the past 25 years, Ukrainian defense enterprises received no orders from the state – more than half of the plants were practically closed. The main types of the military equipment manufactured required Russian components.

In 2014, we completely stopped our cooperation with the Russian defense industry, and Ukroboronprom received the task to provide the Army with necessary weapons and military equipment in the shortest possible time.

First of all, we formed a new team of Ukroboronprom managers, who managed to quickly make qualitative changes and introduce the best business and management practices. We replaced about half of the directors of Ukroboronprom enterprises, mainly those who failed to adapt their way of thinking to new realities; we initiated repair and overhaul of the military equipment – Ukroboronprom enterprises organized 55 mobile maintenance crews, restoring military equipment directly in the anti-terrorist operation zone.

Furthermore, we arranged the import of critical components and organized the repair and manufacture of modernized military equipment samples. Ukroboronprom heads for strategic partnership with Western countries and NATO-Ukraine defense-technical cooperation.

In 2015, Ukroboronprom began implementing a new strategic task – the State Defense Order. Ukroboronprom enterprises launched serial production of new military equipment samples. The Army began to receive sniper rifles, mortars, modernized tanks and new armored personnel carriers manufactured in Ukraine.

The next urgent task was set: to overcome the dependence on imported components from the Russian Federation. To solve this problem, we launched a large-scale import substitution program to attract domestic reserves and set up cooperation within the country with enterprises of any form of ownership.

Ukroboronprom representatives visited all regions of Ukraine, held meetings with governors and discussed the issues of attracting the region’s industry to cooperation with Ukroboronprom.

As a result, enterprises from all regions of Ukraine began to join the import-substitution program implementation. As of today, 414 small, medium and large enterprises of Ukraine and 200,000 specialists joined the process. In fact, Ukroboronprom has attracted the whole country to working on strengthening the Ukrainian Army and the development of the country’s economy.

Furthermore, we renewed the workforce, attracted scientific and educational potential of the country: memorandums of cooperation were signed with 48 Ukrainian universities. Today, we train young specialists: 8,000-plus students had their practical training at Ukroboronprom enterprises and almost 600 of them are already working at our plants.

Memorandums of cooperation were signed with 30 institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Attracting talented Ukrainian scientists and young specialists resulted in 535 promising developments upon the anvil and 80 projects that are already being implemented at Ukroboronprom enterprises.

We set ourselves to the task of expanding partnerships and implementing NATO standards for all stages of armament life cycles. The work on the introduction of the AQAP 2000 series standards at Ukroboronprom enterprises is launched. The ISO 9001 system already operates at 73 percent for Ukroboronprom enterprises.

Ukroboronprom specialists actively participate in multinational projects of the NATO concept Smart Defence, as well as in the meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence-Technical Cooperation.

In 2016, the development of the Ukroboronprom reform strategy was launched. The state concern Ukroboronprom held a meeting of a specially established tendering committee, involving the specialist of the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee of Transparency International Ukraine, to help select the international consulting company using a “competitive dialogue” procedure. Thus, the concern started the process of conducting an international audit. We launched the next stage of Ukroboronprom’s reform. Implementation of such a large-scale process – as international audit and transformation of Ukroboronprom’s enterprises into joint stock companies – will last for about two years.

As a result of military operations in the anti-terrorist operation area, 900-plus technical solutions were introduced and implemented by Ukroboronprom engineers in the armored vehicles operated by the Army, having significantly improved tactical and operational characteristics of the military equipment and taking into account hybrid war experience.

Today, the latest developments of our specialists are being used and tested in the anti-terrorist operation zone. A good example is the unmanned complex Spectator, developed by the specialists of state concern Ukroboronprom, together with scientists of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.” In May 2015, a contract for production was signed. And in January 2016, the first batch was transferred to Ukraine’s armed forces. This high-tech product has been successfully used in combat conditions for more than a year. The prototype of the new tactical UAV, Horlytsya, developed by the Ukrainian enterprises, successfully performed its first flight.

Hybrid war in the east of Ukraine forced us – taking into account combat experience – to develop unmanned equipment for performing various tasks on the battlefield without putting our soldiers’ lives at risk.

Ukroboronprom withstood the challenge of the war and in three years transferred about 16,000 units of weapons and military equipment to the military. Thanks to the work of the entire defense industry of Ukraine, our armed forces – from combat-ineffective units in 2014 – turned into a well-armed Army.

Roman Romanov is the director general of Ukrainian defense company Ukroboronprom.