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March 27, 2020

Saco drone-maker acquired by Atlanta company

File Photo / Tim Greenway Marnie Grumbach, founder and partner at Westbrook marketing firm Fluent IMC, with partner Peter Anania, left, and Bryan Roche, PR and digital strategist, test out a drone used for their firm's commercial work in 2018.

A Saco-based manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, has been acquired by an Atlanta company for an undisclosed price.

Viking UAS, which designs and makes drones for U.S. military research, was purchased by Skyfire Consulting, a subsidiary of Atlanta Drone Group Inc., according to a news release Thursday.

Viking will continue its engineering and manufacturing operations in Saco, and Viking founder Chris Taylor will serve as director of advanced systems development for Skyfire. Chris Tarazewich, longtime operations manager with Viking, will also remain onboard.

Walter Wylupek, chief technology officer for Skyfire, will serve as president of Viking, handling business operations and client relationships for the new division from Skyfire’s Atlanta headquarters.

The acquisition will allow Viking to expand beyond the defense market and develop systems for other purposes, both companies said.

Viking will begin work immediately on developing systems for Skyfire clients in police and fire departments, the oil and gas industry, and for response to the current global public health crisis, according to the release.

"The addition of logistics challenges facing all sectors during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic only accelerated the need for Skyfire to move forward with many of Viking's project concepts," said Atlanta Drone Group CEO Matt Sloane.

Taylor said, “Adding Skyfire's industry-leading sales, marketing, and trusted relationships with critical partners only made sense as a way to bring our capabilities to those outside of the defense sector."

As Mainebiz reported in 2018, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles has grown dramatically statewide and worldwide over recent years, and has spread from military applications to use in commercial and other sectors.

The University of Maine at Augusta launched the state’s first university-level UAS curriculum in 2016, and in a year and a half had trained 130 new drone pilots.

By 2018 there were more than 44,000 commercial drones, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which expected 10 times that number by 2021.

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