In 2014, the international security environment was fundamentally transformed when Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea and subsequent hybrid warfare in eastern Ukraine shifted defense postures and relationships across the globe. The Ukrainian army passed a test of strength in the face of Russian military aggression. It has restored combat readiness and begun to qualitatively upgrade its capabilities.
In the post-2014 global security environment, the ability of military units to be effective depends to a large extent on combat equipment and the pace of transition to new and upgraded systems. More than ever, it is about more firepower, security, mobility and team management.
In this context, Ukraine’s rearmament has been meticulously planned and systematic. This past year has been a pivotal one in this regard. The army of Ukraine now receives new Ukrainian weapons, which are produced serially. These new models of Ukrainian weapons are made by both state and private enterprises, including over a hundred defense enterprises that are part of the Ukroboronprom state concern.
Ukroboronprom has transitioned from repairing, modernizing and selling arms and military equipment of Soviet origin to the development of its own weapons systems. Since the emergence of the new global security environment in 2014, Ukraine has managed to stabilize its defense industry and create the conditions for increasing exports.
At the same time, while growing defense exports is important, the dangerous international environment necessitates that the security of the state must be ensured through the production and provision of technologically advanced arms and military equipment. Ukroboronprom has, therefore, devoted itself to an active policy of rearming the Ukrainian army, the implementation of national defense projects and the enhancement of cooperation with partners around the world.
In Ukraine, industrial renewal and the search for new technologies is taking place. This will enable Ukroboronprom and other Ukrainian defense companies, within a short period of time, to meet the needs of the army while simultaneously creating conditions for the formation of a qualitatively better and more competitive defense industry.
Ukraine’s circumstance is reflective of what is occurring globally as countries are increasingly forced to deal with hybrid threats and thus must reform their defense sectors to meet these challenges. Ukraine is on the front line of such systematic change as it defends its sovereignty and territory. To reflect this, the Ukrainian defense sector was reorganized around several clusters including aviation, armored vehicles, shipbuilding and naval equipment, precision weapons and ammunition, radar, radio communications, and electronic warfare. The key aspect to this reorganization was the development of new and original weapons systems as well as technology born out of necessity.
Given that Ukraine’s security situation is defined by ongoing Russian aggression, Ukroboronprom is implementing projects that will reduce the ability of the Russian Army to threaten our country. Ukroboronprom is, for example, strengthening Ukraine’s missile-artillery capabilities by developing the Neptune cruise missile, modernizing multiple-launch rocket systems, creating its own production of large-caliber artillery shells, as well as developing new high-precision munitions and anti-tank missile systems.
Another vital area that Ukroboronprom is focused on is the automation of combat control, intelligence, radar and unmanned systems. Armored vehicles, such as the BTR-4 and BTR-3, are also critical. Ukrainian weapons have acquired a newfound quality that they previously lacked. Our weapons were tested by war and military action. Our designers took into account the ongoing combat experience of the Ukrainian army and the wishes of the military. As a result, Ukraine’s military technology has become more efficient and reliable.
Despite these advancements, and given the increasingly dangerous global security environment, Ukraine will not be able to produce all the military equipment it needs. In this context, Ukraine must explore whether to pursue joint or licensed production of weapons systems using a leasing or offset mechanism. For Ukraine, such a practice is new and it needs attention from the relevant state structures.
As Russian aggression rages on in eastern Ukraine, outdated equipment is the Achilles’ heel of the Ukrainian army. The Armed Forces must possess innovative weapons and equipment. This will allow Ukraine to achieve parity with Russia and fend off further threats to its defense and security. To do this, Ukroboronprom is acquiring new competencies and creating new opportunities based on world-class solutions and technologies.
While much has been achieved indigenously, the Ukrainian defense industry understands that, in today’s world, international cooperation with its friends and partners is an essential force multiplier. For this reason, Ukroboronprom has been, and will continue to be, focused on the establishment of flexible partnerships and cooperative relationships with other leading defense companies around the globe, including those from the United States, Poland, the Czech Republic and Turkey. Together, we will be able to face the growing complexities and dangers of both today’s and tomorrow’s global security environment.
Pavlo Bukin is the director general of the Ukraine-based defense company Ukroboronprom.