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Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry announced on Facebook on June 26 that it would provide $1 million each in funding to three separate Ukrainian companies to manufacture and scale up mechanisms to defend against Russian aerial attacks.
The ministry wrote that over 200 developers, engineers, and cyber specialists met over the weekend at the "Anti-Shahed Drone Hackathon" to create and present new systems and technologies for the detection, tracking and destruction of drones.
The three companies were chosen from hackathon participants who presented the most comprehensive and compelling plans. They will receive the $1 million in funding to refine and implement their projects.
Ukraine is bombarded with Russian drone attacks on a daily basis. Many of these attacks are conducted by Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 drones, sometimes referred to as kamikaze drones.
According to Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, Russia launched at least 400 Shahed drones at Ukraine in May alone. In total, at least 1,200 attack drones have been launched at Ukraine since last September, he said.
Air defense has consistently been a weak spot for the Ukrainian military and is one of the main areas that Ukraine calls on international allies for support. While Western-supplied air defense systems, such as the U.S.-made Patriot, have helped Ukraine to protect its skies, the support is still not enough.
The U.S. and its NATO allies are also struggling to provide Ukraine with what it needs as many of its own ground-based air defense systems were deactivated after the end of the Cold War, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Ukrainian government's new initiative demonstrates a concentrated development of domestic defense and less reliance on foreign allies in protecting Ukraine from the skies.
"Our task is to maximize support for developers, create conditions for mass production of alternative systems against Iranian Shahed drones," Kubrakov said.