Lithuanian president, defense minister, defense chief to discuss drone development

  • 2024-02-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is meeting with Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas and Chief of Defense Valdemaras Rupsys on Tuesday to discuss the development and expansion of drone capabilities.

"At the meeting (...), the President will hear a presentation of the plan for the development and expansion of drone capabilities," Nauseda's spokesman Ridas Jasiulionis told BNS.

The meeting comes after Nauseda earlier this month criticized the national defense system's approach to the development of drone capabilities in the country. 

He also said that the system focuses more on foreign manufacturers when acquiring drones, despite Lithuanians developing good prototypes. 

The parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense (CNSD) last month looked at what the Defense Ministry and the military are doing in this area. 

Laurynas Kasciunas, the committee's chairman, said that the military's planned acquisition of drones and the available drone capabilities would be sufficient for "one strong battle", not for a long-term war with Russia.

The CNSD then sent an outline on how UAV and counter-measures capabilities should be developed to members of the State Defense Council –  the president, the prime minister, the speaker of the Seimas, the defense minister and the chief of defense.

In response to the CNSD discussions, the Armed Forces then told BNS that they were developing drone capabilities based on a concept approved in 2017 and had plans to develop a reconnaissance drone capability within three years and procure combat UAVs as an integral part of anti-tank defense.  

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in February that the government, for its part, had started developing its concept on this issue. 

According to her, the government's proposals for the development of drone capabilities will aim to cover the needs and capabilities of the national defense system and the Lithuanian defense industry.

Some Lithuanian politicians started paying more attention to drones amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, where both sides are using UAVs for various tasks ranging from reconnaissance to destroying enemy targets.

Military officials responsible for army development say that drones can be used for reconnaissance and support, but overestimating their capabilities on the battlefield could divert policymakers' attention away from other important purchases such as tanks.

According to defense officials, operational and strategic objectives in conflicts are achieved with heavy weapons, and the interoperability of all units is important on the battlefield.