According to SIPRI, on whose information Primoco UAV is based, in 2022 a total of 69 dual-pilot unmanned aerial vehicles were sold worldwide (i.e. also military, author’s note) use with a take-off weight of up to 250 kilograms.
Data from the national license registers of defense systems show that this market segment of medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicles was dominated by two-thirds of manufacturers from the United States and one-third by the Czech company Primoco UAV.
“With a thirty percent market share, we confirm the position of the leading global manufacturer in the segment of medium-weight unmanned aircraft,” commented Ladislav Semetkovský, CEO and majority shareholder of Primoco UAV, on the current data.
He added that in addition to 69 machines of the medium category of dual/military use, another 120 drones in the category of heavy drones over 250 kilograms were sold last year. “With the exception of 2021, the global market has been growing by tens of percent annually in recent years, and the Czech Republic plays a significant role in it,” added Semetkovský.
Orders for 33 machines
Primoco UAV products continue to be in great demand abroad. In just nine months of this year, the company concluded new contracts for the supply of a total of 33 of its Primoco UAV One 150 aircraft with a take-off weight of 150 kilograms. The total value of new orders for the production of machines that can carry a payload of up to 30 kilograms has already reached 690 million crowns this year.
The medium-sized drone business was significantly helped by the war in Ukraine, where machines manufactured in Prague’s Radotín also fly. However, Ukraine does not buy Czech drones directly, but through Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany, from where the payment will also arrive.
However, Czech drones are not used for combat operations. “Our drones do not carry weapons systems, even our customers commit to this,” said Semetkovský. Even so, this sophisticated military asset is extremely valuable for army operations – for example, when searching and targeting enemy positions. Primoco UAV also exports its machines to other European countries, but also to the Middle East, Asia or Africa.
A threefold increase in sales
The global interest in unmanned vehicles, but also in spare parts or pilot training, was also reflected in the economic results of the Prague company, which are the best in its history. For this year’s three quarters, sales reached almost 372 million crowns, which is a threefold increase compared to last year. This year’s profit after taxation has already exceeded 126 million crowns.
“With regard to the level of development of new deals, we confirm the previously published forecast that new orders concluded in 2023 will reach a total value of one billion crowns. For the period of the next twelve months, we expect to conclude contracts in the amount of 1.8 billion,” said Ladislav Semetkovský.
At the same time, Primoco UAV continues the certification process according to the NATO military standard STANAG 4703 and also places great emphasis on innovation, which makes its One 150 machines among the world leaders in their category.
“During the summer, we completed a new software and hardware version of the aircraft’s control system. This is another step that, based on flight experience, allows us to move towards full automation and even higher air traffic safety. Primoco UAV has invested three million crowns in this project alone,” said Semetkovský.
He added that the company’s approach to innovation played a significant role in the decision of Airbus Defense and Space and its subsidiary Airbus DS Airborne Solutions to conclude a mutual cooperation memorandum with the Czech manufacturer in June.
The shares of the Czech company Primoco UAV SE are traded on the Start market of the Prague Stock Exchange. Since the beginning of this year, they have already strengthened by more than 123 percent to 915 crowns per share. Since the company’s entry on the stock exchange less than five years ago, the appreciation is even 266 percent.
In recent years, unmanned vehicles have experienced unprecedented development in practically all market segments, not only in the military. For example, the American company Amazon recently announced that it is going to introduce its small delivery drones in Europe as well. It said it has reached an agreement with aviation regulators in Italy and the UK so its machines can begin deliveries to those countries.
The deployment of drones is to be gradual, the expected start of operation will be in 2024. Delivery drones will first be controlled by people on the ground, who will have to keep the machines in sight at all times. Fully automated operation should come in a few years.
Amazon started operating delivery drones last year in California, using them mainly to deliver its goods. According to the company, its machines have delivered thousands of packages since then. In addition to Amazon, Google and Walmart, for example, are working on drones.