Defmin expects Lithuanian drone makers to scrap Chinese parts over summer

  • 2024-05-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – As Lithuania wants to integrate domestically produced drones into its army, Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas hopes Lithuanian drone makers will give up Chinese-made parts over the summer.

"When will (Lithuanian - BNS) manufacturers' drones become more integrated into the Lithuanian army? There's one point that we are already dealing with, but we still need some time, and we have heard that there's a breakthrough, it has to do with a kind of dependence on Chinese-made parts," Kasciunas told journalists at the Kyviskes airfield on Friday.

"We have asked manufacturers how much time they need to to get completely free from Chinese parts. Some are talking about the end of June, some are talking about the summer. We are moving forward. Once this is done, there is an immediate opportunity to re-plan and rebuild our entire industry in a completely different way and based on the needs of the Lithuanian Armed Forces," the minister said.

Now in Lithuania, the army is not allowed by law to use Chinese-made parts in their armaments.

The only one-year exception is in place for equipment provided as support to Ukraine for testing and research purposes.

In order to develop drone capability, the Defense Ministry will allocate 10 million euros to Lithuanian UAV manufacturers for the development of combat FPV, reconnaissance and other types of drones. Of this, 3 million euros will be allocated to support Ukraine with combat FPV drones. A further 7 million euros will be earmarked for the production and development of various types of drones.

"This is linked to support for Ukraine. Drones will be purchased, they will provided as support to Ukraine, tested there, the latest technologies will be tested and moved back to Lithuania," Kasciunas said.

For her part, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte says Lithuanian drones are necessary not only for the army, but also for other national institutions.

"Our border guards are using them. We have more institutions than the army that need them, and they also need anti-drone equipment. We would like to meet those needs, as far as possible, with products made by our own manufacturers because in this way we are not only supporting our own industry but we are also leaving money at home," she said, adding that the existing priority is to develop UAV capacity with Lithuanian products, not with drones purchased abroad.

"Obviously, you have to look at the specifics of each capability that needs to be developed, what our industry can or will produce. It is not a fact that what we see today is what our industry will be able to do. Our industry will be able to do more," Simonyte said.

Earlier this week, the Defense Ministry unveiled an UAV capability development plan that calls for launching drone operator courses at the Military Academy in September, setting up a registry of drone operators, promoting local manufacturers, and bolstering drone development through the paramilitary Riflemen's Union and NGOs.

In late March, the State Defense Council decided that the army must have a fully operational drone capability by 2027.