Juggling two jobs is hard work. It’s particularly hard work when one of the jobs is in a warzone. But for Ivan Kaunov, the roles are complementary.

As the CEO and co-founder of Buntar Aerospace, Kaunov develops drones for long-range flights. As a member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, he flies drones on combat missions.

“We’re using them on the battlefield and we know what works, what doesn’t, and how they should be changed to fit the modern warfare reality.” the 33-year-old tells TNW on a video call from a classified military facility. We have the fastest feedback loop ever.” 

The loop feeds back to Kaunov’s business. Buntar has already tested its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the field. The startup now wants to scale production for military reconnaissance.

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It’s a plan with powerful supporters in Ukraine, which has become a testing ground for drones. From the skies, they’ve destroyed oil refineries deep within Russia. Beneath the seas, they’ve sunk warships in occupied Crimea. On territory controlled by Kyiv, they’ve demined vast expanses of land, conducted overhead surveillance, and even engaged in drone-on-drone dogfights. 

The war in Ukraine has ushered in a new era of aerial conflict. It’s also ushered in a new wave of drone startups.

Ivan Kaunov and the team behind the Buntar Aerospace drones