- The Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 continued to negatively impact financial results as a result of travel restrictions limiting contract finalisation and meetings with new clients. Primoco UAV SE achieved sales of CZK 17.7 million, a year-on-year decrease of 32%. EBITDA was CZK -6 million.
- At the end of 2021, Primoco UAV SE was in advanced negotiations to deliver 72 aircraft worth €86 million to 19 countries.
- The company delivered 5 new aircraft in Iraq in 2021 and entered into a EUR 2 million service contract with this client for 2022-2023. As of today, the company has produced 100 Primoco UAV One 150 unmanned aircraft.
- In 2021, the company raised new funds of CZK 90.5 million from investors through a new share issue. The company has sufficient cash to operate its business and complete its planned transactions.
- In 2022, Primoco UAV SE expects to realize revenue from sales of Primoco UAV One 150/150M, spare parts to current clients, pilot training and sensor sales. The sales plan for 2022 is 40 UAVs and sales of CZK 500 million.
Primoco UAV SE’s results for 2021 were not in line with Primoco UAV SE’s business plans as a result of the pandemic situation. However, the company considers this situation to be a deferral of sales, not a permanent loss of income. “In 2021, we continued negotiations for the delivery of unmanned aircraft and we are in an advanced stage of concluding contracts. We will face the challenges of 2022 knowing that we have secured good funding and have an excellent product with continuous innovation, driven not by dreams but by concrete customer requirements that will translate into future orders.” said Primoco UAV CEO Ladislav Semetkovský.
Technological Innovations and Safety Improvements
In 2021 Primoco UAV SE continued the development of its One 150 UAV and its military version the One 150M. In the past year, it has tested and implemented a number of innovative technologies. For military users, Primoco UAV SE offers a complete reconnaissance, mobile network and SIGINT system independent of weather and visibility conditions that can be deployed anywhere in the world. For civil aviation users, the NAVAID calibration tests carried out in collaboration with Norwegian Special Mission mean that an unmanned aircraft using identical hardware can be used to completely calibrate airport systems, replacing a manned flight with significant cost savings.
Having completed the development phase of the One 150/150M, the company has made significant progress towards both EU and NATO approval under the EMAR 21 standard and is one of only three European companies to have this approval. The military certification of the aircraft according to NATO STANAG 4703 continues.
Primoco UAV SE also successfully tested new on-board sensor equipment in 2021. In cooperation with the Latvian company UAV Factory, a new EO/MWIR Epsilon 180 optical unit with a 4K daylight channel, a Full HD MWIR thermal imaging channel and a laser rangefinder was integrated. Cooperation with the US company Imsar, which supplies its NSP-5 and NSP-7 synthetic aperture radars for Primoco UAVs, is ongoing. Thanks to advanced automation and software image processing, the sensors can detect targets and points of interest even in conditions of zero optical visibility (through clouds, smoke or fog). This includes the ability to detect and determine the speed of moving objects in both land and maritime target modes. In 2021, the range of optional sensors has also been extended to include PT-8 automatic optical scanning systems designed to search for ships and survivors on the water surface. These features make the One 150 a highly autonomous platform capable of automatically detecting objects of interest without the operator having to actively search for them. This reduces the complexity of conducting a survey and allows the operator to focus in detail on the potential targets identified instead of inefficiently searching the entire area. Primoco UAV has also completed the solution and implementation of SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) technologies for its clients.
The One 150’s large payload capacity and its ability to continuously transmit large volumes of data at a distance of up to 200 km allow the aircraft to be equipped with a combination of sensors to achieve the most effective reconnaissance. For one of its foreign customers, the company is now working with US partners to integrate multi-band data link systems that will allow drones to exchange data in flight within the concept of MANETs (Mobile Ad-hoc Networks), which are created operationally as needed independently of the ground infrastructure. This is another capability of the aircraft that can be combined with reconnaissance sensors.
The development of unmanned technologies and their growth in areas that were previously reserved only viable for manned aircraft naturally leads to the need to ensure the safety of the operation of these systems. Primoco UAV SE has therefore significantly expanded its set of safety measures. For flights over populated areas, the aircraft can be equipped with a ballistic rescue parachute from the renowned Czech company Galaxy GRS. Its rescue systems have already saved dozens of pilots and, in the case of the One 150, guarantee the aircraft’s impact in an emergency without major structural damage. Ground and flight tests led to successful verification of the applicability of this technology. Another safety feature is an improved aircraft navigation system. Several One 150s are currently flying for customers who cannot rely on GPS/Glonass/Galileo satellite navigation. Nevertheless, the company is able to guarantee that the aircraft will fly the scheduled route under virtually any conditions, even in the event of significant interference. The growing fleet of One 150s and intensive testing are also leading to progressively safer operations. Further improvements have been made to the on-board software and include the Detect & Avoid concept. The company is integrating a full ADSB-In/Out transponder, making the One 150 the first non-U.S. drone to offer both this transponder and a military IFF identifier up to Mode 5. Both elements will ensure easy coordination of the movement of unmanned and manned aircraft in the same airspace.
The Primoco UAV One 150/150M is the most advanced European UAV in the below 150 kg take-off weight category. Thanks to its flexible design, it now offers far more sophisticated and powerful sensor equipment than the most widely used military drones, with extremely simple operational logistics and favourable acquisition and operating costs.
Favourable Outlook for the Future
In 2022, Primoco UAV SE expects revenue from sales of the Primoco UAV One 150/150M, spare parts to current clients, pilot training and sensor sales to exceed CZK 500 million based on a sales plan of 40 UAVs.
In addition to meeting business and production targets and providing better customer service, Primoco UAV SE will continue preparations for the construction of a new production facility on the premises of its own factory airport in Písek-Krašovice.
One of the main goals for 2022 is to complete the military certification of Primoco UAV One 150M according to NATO STANAG 4703. Primoco UAV is the first company of its kind in Europe to certify an aircraft to the STANAG 4703 standard full certification rather than by recognition of previous national approvals.
In addition, Primoco UAVs can perform flight activities with internal company-level operational approval from 2022. This is possible thanks to the EASA LUC (Light Unmanned Certificate) certification that the company received from the Czech Civil Aviation Authority for the Primoco UAV One 150 in the “Specific” category on 11 February 2022. This is the first time worldwide that a LUC certificate has been issued for a European fixed-wing aircraft. Overall, this is the fifth certificate in Europe, the previous ones being for rotary wing machines. The EASA LUC certificate is the highest qualification that can be obtained under current European regulations.
Primoco UAV SE’s plans for 2022 no longer include activities in the Russian Federation in the civil sector. Given the current developments, no improvement in relations between Europe and Russia can be expected in the foreseeable future and therefore Primoco UAV SE ceased its operations in the Russian Federation as of 31 January 2022 and sold 100% of its shares to its subsidiary AO Primoco BPLA.
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