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From Lithuania, battlefield-tested advanced swarm technology

For investors, deterrence and defence have become a theme of the year, demonstrated by a major new investment in a Lithuanian defence tech firm.

More confirmation that defence tech in the Baltics is an increasingly sound investment. On May 24, Unmanned Defence Systems (UDS), a Lithuanian defence and dual-use technology company, announced that it had secured 3.2 million euros in funding from a group of private investors, led by VC fund Coinvest Capital.

“We no longer have the luxury of standing still when the development of technology is currently so fast and dynamic. We must keep pace with the latest military trends and be able to effectively integrate them into our defence system,” says Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Lithuania’s Minister of Defence.

UDS is an advanced swarm technology solutions company, focusing on the AI-based integration of swarm drones with contemporary battlefield management systems (BMS).

UDS has also designed its own fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ranging from reconnaissance drones to loitering munition and first-person view (FPV) drones. The firm says that its mix of proprietary expertise, and the fusion of advanced in-house AI, robotics, and space technology skills places it well ahead of its competitors.

The company has already won multiple defence procurement tenders and supplies its solutions to the Lithuanian and Ukrainian armed forces, other EU members, and NATO allies.

Investments will be directed to continue developing proprietary swarm technologies, fostering advancements in drone autonomy and inter-drone coordination, strengthening NATO’s military capacity, and aligning it with the demands of 21st-century warfare.

An inner drive to help Ukraine

Drone swarms with advanced sensors and cutting-edge AI-driven data processing capabilities can revolutionise situational awareness, providing military commanders with unprecedented real-time intelligence, inherent adaptability, and versatility, that can swiftly respond to changing conditions on the battlefield.

“We have the ambition to prove to the world that Lithuania is as great in developing high-tech military UAVs as we are in aerospace or lasers,” says Vytenis Buzas, one of the creators of the first Lithuanian satellite, an investor in UDS and now set to become executive chairman of its board.

“I am confident in the engineering talent of our team, which is united by a burning inner drive to help Ukrainians win this brutal war.”

The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the transformative potential of UAVs, even those not yet functioning in swarms, suggests Ernestas Kalabuckas, incoming CTO at UDS.

“They play pivotal roles in intelligence gathering, surveillance, and precision strikes. We are grateful to our military partners in Ukraine for running frequent tests together in the actual war zone, enabling agile and swift technology upgrades in response to the constantly changing conditions on the battlefield.”

Future warfare space

For investors, deterrence and defence have become a theme of the year in Europe, says Viktorija Trimbel, managing director at Coinvest Capital.

“We were impressed by the engineering talent and business acumen of the UDS team, the range of products already proven in Ukraine and the strategically thought-through roadmap,” she says.

“Being a sovereign VC fund, the first and the largest in the Baltics, fully authorised to invest in defence, we have patient capital and a mission that perfectly aligns with the specifics of defence and dual-use innovation needs and decision-making cycles.”

According to Jonas Oehman, the founder of Blue/Yellow, an NGO which has been supporting Ukraine’s military forces since 2014, Lithuania must not only engage in drone warfare development and expansion, it must own a production base, to help neighbouring countries and to develop a proper drone warfare concept for itself.

“In this context, the current purchases and investments are an important step forward. We are already moving into the future warfare space.”

Photo: UDS.

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