WARSAW, Poland — Ukraine plans to spend about 20 billion hryvnia (U.S. $540 million) on new drones this year, according to the country’s defense minister.

The UAVs are meant to support the Ukrainian military as it continues to combat Russia’s invasion.

“In 2023, we are increasing the purchases of UAVs for the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post. “This is just the beginning. After all, this is not only about the needs of aerial reconnaissance.”

The official said that, owing to the forthcoming acquisitions, the Ukrainian military will strengthen its combat drone capacities. Ukraine will use other new UAVs for surveillance, to support to artillery units and in other missions, Reznikov added.

To date, Ukraine has ordered drones for its armed forces from 16 local manufacturers, the minister said. Kyiv also continues to buy foreign-made UAVs, with a recent contract for 105 Vector reconnaissance drones signed with German manufacturer Quantum-Systems.

“The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has placed a second batch order of Vector systems, following an earlier order of 33 UAS of the same model in August 2022,” the company said in a statement. “Vector has been extensively used and intensively tested on the Ukrainian battlefield, where it has proven to be an asset for military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations. Its robust and rugged design makes it well-suited for operation in harsh environments and extreme weather conditions.”

The German business also announced the opening of a training and support facility in Ukraine, which is to provide services to drone operators and serve as the local hub for spare parts and repair services.

The value of the latest contract, which is funded by the German government, was not disclosed.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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