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Jan 16

Defence Minister attends the signing for the production of a new UAV

The Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, attended signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding, concluded at the Ministry of Finance among the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the University of Patras, the Democritus University of Thrace and the University of Thessaly with regard to the design and industrial production of a second, upgraded unmanned combat aerial vehicle (drone).

The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Christos Staikouras, the HAI management, as well as the provosts of the foregoing four Universities.

The implementation of the new programme under the name of “Grypas” is in progress, leveraging the consistent action and know-how acquired via the “Archytas” programme on the research, development, and industrial production of the first Multi-use Autonomous Aerial Vehicle by bodies of the wider public sector.

While addressing the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, highlighted the following:

«Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the past two years, we have been working in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, which supervises HAI, to develop a project regarding the production, manufacturing and finally the utilization (of great benefit to the country’s Armed Forces, as I hope it will be) of one UAV or of many versions thereof.
Along with the Minister of Finance, my beloved friend Mr. Christos Staikouras, I am delighted to attend the signing of this memorandum of understanding concluded between this programme’s implementing body on the one hand and all other bodies required, which are the country’s academic institutions, represented by the Provosts in attendance. The said institutions have already provided us with a sample of what they are capable of achieving in connection with the design and initial development of such an item.
In October 2019, I first saw a prototype UAV within a warehouse of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki labs, which had been designed by a working group in the said University, and test flights were about to start. That was just a sample of the work that can be achieved by the talented and qualified staff, i.e. the researchers, the academic personnel, the working groups under the supervision of the Professors; and it’s not just the Aristotle University, but also the University of Thessaly, the Democritus University of Thrace, and the University of Patras.
Our experience has so far been positive; however, we had a certain exercise to solve. For the country to develop a UAV type or several types whereby the domestic Defence Industry, the following had to take place:
– Associate the original product of academic research or of a design initiative, like the one developed by the HAI, with the operational requirements and specifications, as such are designed by the Armed Forces, which know the operational needs of such an item (of the UAV in this case) better than anyone else. At the same time, we also had to associate these two items with the main manufacturing phase, which is the connection with the industry so as to move from the design to the manufacturing and test phases for this prototype, and finally to the industrial manufacturing in bigger quantities to be made available to the final users.
This is the exercise we tried to solve along with the Minister of Finance and I am delighted to have HAI participating in this process. Because HAI constitutes a main actor of the domestic Defence Industry, despite the challenges it is faced with, which nonetheless has the talent required to design such systems, the expertise and the industrial infrastructure to develop a UAV, as it has to be developed into a final offering. Therefore, this is the exercise we had to solve. By all means, this is a joint decision with the Ministry of Finance, which had the ability to undertake this project’s financing initiative.
To begin with, the Ministry of Defence provides all information required for the operational missions of all three Services of the Armed Forces. Not all three Services share the same missions, but of course, all of them will contribute regarding their own requirements.
We will determine the features of the UCAV mock-up so that mission requirements are satisfied. We will be providing specialized personnel – a HAF officer has already been assigned to this project to contribute his own expertise, as required by HAI. We will therefore participate in the UCAV development and design.
We will be contributing to the certification of external loads, to the drafting of different users’ operational specifications and requirements. Thanks to our skilled staff, we will be providing specific consulting services, and we will be participating in the execution of standardized and service tests.
We will be participating in the drafting of flight manuals, both for training purposes and for them to be used by future users; we will proceed to operational controls and special tests, a series of works which are required to develop this offering. Of course, the Armed Forces personnel’s contribution is a given, under the encouragement, the agreement and the assistance of the Ministry of National Defence.
I would thus like to stress that today is a big day, because this project is publicly announced via its being co-signed by the contracting parties of this memorandum. No result will derive within a year or some months’ time. You do know that the neighbouring countries have spent a lot of time – more than ten years – to develop their own offerings. Nonetheless, I think we can move faster, provided that we start in an organized and coordinated manner. We have the infrastructure, the talent, the contribution of the academic institutions, and I believe that the conditions are here – assisted by the Armed Forces – to have a final offering.
In the meantime, to meet the needs, as you may be aware of, we have our own planning so as to have the UAVs where and how we would like to have them, but it would be desirable for Greece to develop its own offering at this level, and not just for missions directly related to the National Defence needs, but for multiple missions, as correctly explained by the Ministry of Finance.
Let this day mark a significant start. This important project, entailing undisputed and self-evident national gain, gets implemented whereby the signing of this memorandum, which connects the different parts of the puzzle, and helps us look optimistically towards the future, which will definitely happen, because the will and support is there for it to happen.
As previously mentioned, the Academia contributes at the designing level. Industrial infrastructure contributes to the designing. There is also the ability for production at an industrial level. The Armed Forces’ contribution to meet the requirements and needs is a given, and the support, the initial financing of the designing phase by the Ministry of Finance, supervising HAI, is there. Minister Staikouras, dear friend Christos, I am delighted that we will be able to start something good, in terms of perfect understanding and cooperation, without fancy talk, without prior declarations, but rather with specific work and time schedule, which I believe has already produced certain initial outcomes, we see a designed prototype, but we’re still far from having the final offering produced.
However, we have already made a start, and I do believe that we now have more solid foundations until the final offering is ready to the benefit, as I mentioned both of the Armed Forces and of other actors that will benefit from the usefulness of those flying assets.
Thank you very much”.

The Minister of Finance, Mr. Christos Staikouras, stressed:

“Over more than 2 years, the Ministry of Finance has set the goal of enabling the wider public sector to become a designer and a producer of multi-use UAV systems (drones).
To reach this goal, we tried to establish a cooperation among the Ministry of Finance, the supervised HAI, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Democritus University of Thrace, and the University of Thessaly.
Over this period of time, programme “Archytas” was developed, financed by the Ministry of Finance.
Its objective was the designing and industrial production of a multi-use and multi-version drone – UAV.
The implementation of “Archytas” programme started on September 1, 2021.
To date, this collective, national effort is evolving according to the programming in place.
Following the successful test flights of the scale aerial vehicle, conducted both conventionally and using the vertical take-off – landing manner, its final designing is to be completed.
At the same time, HAI is still supplied with the material and devices required, whereas the configuration of the dedicated area for the industrial production line is in progress, and the manufacturing of molds is to be initiated.
The manufacturing of the prototype vehicle will begin in the quarter to have started.
Once its manufacturing is completed, test flights, checks, certifications, cost assessments of alternative vehicle versions will take place, as well as the receipt of orders on behalf of HAI regarding the manufacturing of aerial vehicles by users.
The smooth progress of “Archytas” programme, and the development of constructive cooperation with the Universities, has provided us with the basis to:
1. Call upon Greek entrepreneurs, who produce or wish to produce the material and the devices required for the aerial vehicles, being competitive with regard to quality and pricing, to coordinate its action with HAI.
2. Take the next ambitious step.
We set the goal of designing and industrially producing a second, more complex UAV, under the name of “Grypas”.
We added more partners such as the University of Patras.
We extensively talked about this with the Minister of National Defence.
Our will and estimates coincided.
The harmonious cooperation with highly skilled members of the Armed Forces allows us to be even more positive regarding the outcome of the new, highly demanding and significant project.
To this end, I call upon all parties involved to work in an honest, consistent, reliable, productive, and efficient manner, with the utmost respect for every cent offered by Greek taxpayers.
In the context of this national effort, I call upon all parties involved to go the extra mile.
To prove that Greece is able and capable of performing remarkable feats, which will reinforce in every aspect the power of our Country.
To become aware of the fact that they contribute to one more period of illustrious Greek history.
Thinking that they will fully respond to our encouragement, I would like to thank them for the cooperation.
I wish every success to his new, joint effort”.

The signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding between HAI and the four Universities was attended by:

• On behalf of HAI, the company Chairman, Mr. Ioannis Koutras, the CEO, Mr. Dimitrios Papakostas, the BOD member and “Grypas” programme coordinator, Mr. Michail Koronaios, the BOD member, Mr. Nikolaos Kaliorakis, the General Manager Production, Mr. Theodoros Rizos, the Strategy and Development General Manager, Mr. Georgios Stamelos, the Programme Management Director, Ms. Dimitra Vrouha, the Design, Research and New Product Development Director, Mr. Nikolaos Koklas, the Electronics Plant Director, Mr. Aithon Narlis, and the supervising engineer, Mr. Anastasios Makrykostas.
• On behalf of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Provost, Professor Nikolaos Papaioannou.
• On behalf of the University of Patras, the Vice Provost of Academic and International Affairs, Professor Dionysios Mantzavinos, and the project manager, Professor Vasilis Kostopoulos.
• On behalf of the Democritus University of Thrace, the Provost, Professor Fotios Maris, the University BOD member, Professor Maria Michalopoulou, and the project managers, Professor Antonios Gasteratos, Professor Georgios Syrakoulis, and Associate Professor Nikolaos Papanikolaou.
• On behalf of the University of Thessaly, the Provost, Professor Zisis Mamouris and the project manager, Dean of the Polytechnic School Georgios Stamoulis.
• The Ministry of Finance partners in the areas of Research and Innovation, Professor Konstantinos Tsamadias and Assistant Professor Christos Christodoulou.
• The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Ms. Pinelopi Pagoni and the Supervisor of the Unit of Privatization, Mobile Securities Management and Operational Planning, Mr. Sotirios Anastasopoulos.