Juliana Skagale: The Ukrainian military utilizes Atlas drones on the battlefield against the Russian army. In particular, the Come Back Alive Foundation, which assists the Ukrainian military, has purchased 100 Atlas drone systems for Ukrainian defenders.
Ivan Tolchinsky, the founder and CEO of Atlas, is on the phone with us now.
Juliana Skagale:: Ivan, good evening!
Jevgenijs Antonovs: Good evening, Ivan!
Ivan Tolchinsky: Good evening!
Jevgenijs Antonovs: Tell us, please, how did you manage to get your drones to be in demand on the field of battle and purchased for the war going on in Ukraine right now?
Ivan Tolchinsky: We have been working together with Ukraine and NATO for several years now. In developing the drone specifically for use in conditions such as Ukraine's, we had all the information that Ukraine has been gathering since 2014. This includes information from the conflicts that were taking place in the Donbas. Plus, we had requirements from NATO that ended up being apt for the kind of war that is now taking place in Ukraine.
Jevgenijs Antonovs: What are the special features of your drones? What is their main competitive advantage?
Ivan Tolchinsky: Well, the most important advantage is that Atlas made the significant change in the concept of tactical drones towards the direction of a drone being able to be used by every soldier, in general, by everyone. There has to be one person in the group who knows how to fly it. The drone must be so simple that everyone can fly it. In addition to this, our drone has technology that allows it to fly in places where there is no GPS communication, where signals are jammed. We have developed our module and developed our systems to be very resistant to jamming, and thanks to that our drones are very successful in carrying out their tasks in Ukraine.
Juliana Skagale: Can the Russian army do damage to these drones? What is the main function and purpose of Atlas drones?
Ivan Tolchinsky: Our drones are not used for attack. They are used to correct fire and for short-range reconnaissance, up to 80 km ahead.
Jevgenijs Antonovs: Can you give examples of which parts of Ukraine your drones are used in? South, East?
Juliana Skagale: If it's not a military secret?
Jevgenijs Antonovs: Yes, if you can talk about it publicly.
Ivan Tolchinsky: We know that drones are being used in the Donbas. We can't say where. Special operations forces use them. Also, now the Ukrainian government will consider the purchase of the same drones for the army, for regular soldiers. Ukraine is considering a reorder because the system shows itself very stable and does very well on the battlefield. They (Ukraine) like it a lot, they like the MESH technology. Because of our MESH technology, when the signal is shared across multiple devices, you cannot see where the drone is being controlled from, and that helps the operators a lot.
Juliana Skagale: Can Atlas, a Latvian company, fully supply the Ukrainian army with drones, if necessary? If they like these drones in action, they must be really useful. Do you have enough resources to make a major delivery to, say, Ukraine? Not just 100 drones, but many more.
Ivan Tolchinsky: Well it's not 100 drones, it's 100 systems, consisting of 300 drones total. Now we're ramping up our production lines. And we are thinking about how we will work to further enable the production of almost 300 systems or 700 drones a month. Because, apart from Ukraine, we also have NATO orders. We need to increase our capacity to produce drones.
Jevgenijs Antonovs: How have drone sales performed during the conflict in Ukraine? Has it affected the number of orders? Have new customers appeared that you didn't have before, or has interest in new models increased?
Ivan Tolchinsky: Yes. Certainly, it's very different. I just got back from England and even the British army understands that using larger systems is very expensive, it's complicated, and in addition to that, when you lose one system, you lose your eyes a few hundred kilometers away. Using small systems is much easier, simpler, and cheaper, and it's much more difficult and unprofitable to market large drone systems. Using such small systems, consisting of many individual drones that fly together in swarms and that are used by every soldier, is becoming mainstream. There is a lot of interest in our drones, and in turn many countries are willing to purchase them from us.
Juliana Skagale: Are there any plans to produce attack drones in Latvia that can actually be used in real-world combat?
Ivan Tolchinsky: Atlas has the capabilities to do this. There is a great deal of accumulated experience and know-how, and all the technical and production components needed are all here. We are ideally placed to do that. We also have deliveries to rescue organizations, and there are also drones that are used just in industrial settings.
Juliana Skagale: Thank you very much for the interview. This has been Ivan Tolchinsky, the founder and CEO of Atlas, joining us. Thank you again and have a good evening.
Jevgenijs Antonovs: Thank you.
Ivan Tolchinsky: Goodbye, thanks.
The above is a translation of the transcript of a broadcast of Latvijas Radio 4 found here.