Sypaq cardboard drones, designed and built in Australia. The company has supplied more than 500 to Ukraine. (Sypaq)

SYDNEY — The European members of the United Kingdom-Latvian-led “Drone Coalition” have announced a new common funding pool of €45 million ($48.8 million) to help get unmanned systems in the hands of Ukrainian fighters more quickly.

The UK is taking the lead on what it’s calling the “Drone Coalition Common Fund,” which was established within a new Memorandum of Understanding signed by the coalition members on Wednesday that also “provides a framework outlining the Coalition’s core activities, management structure [and] procurement mechanisms.”

In its announcement, the coalition said its main goal is to send 1 million first-person-view (FPV) drones to Ukraine. “At the same time, coalition members are working to provide other type of drones like reconnaissance, strike drones, AI upgraded drones, as well as counter-drone capabilities,” the announcement said.

The coalition has already launched an “industry competition” for FPV drones, and the first contracts for some of the 265 bidders are expected in August.

Unmanned systems, of course, have played pivotal roles in finding and directly targeting assets both on land and sea, with Ukraine’s sea-based drones particularly effective against the hapless Black Sea fleet of Vladimir Putin. The Drone Coalition is currently made up of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, but it’s open to additional nations.

The initial $48.8 million for the common fund has been collectively pledged by coalition leaders UK and Latvia, along with the Netherlands and New Zealand.

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In April, during a visit to Ukraine, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles announced $30 million AUD for drones as part of a larger $100 million AUD package. Among the systems that have gone to the fight, Australian firm Sypaq has supplied more than 500 of its cardboard-based systems.

Today’s announcement makes clear the NATO countries are trying to better institutionalize the support for drones within the coalition.