VILNIUS – Lithuanian and Turkish officials signed in Ankara on Wednesday an agreement paving the way for Vilnius to buy Bayraktar combat drones.
Lithuania is planning to purchase the unmanned aerial vehicle and other equipment with money donated by people in a fundraising campaign launched by Laisves TV and to hand it over to Ukraine, and is also considering buying a drone system for its armed forces.
Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska and the head of the Turkish Defense Industry Agency signed a letter of intent on the acquisition of Turkish weapons.
"We have signed an agreement. This means a green light for further acquisitions at the political level," Semeska told BNS.
The vice-minister is scheduled to meet with the chief executive officer of the Bayraktar manufacturing company on Thursday.
Semeska said on Wednesday that he had discussed with the Turkish agency's head not only the acquisition of a Bayraktar with the money donated by the public, but also the possible acquisition of at least one drone system for the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
He said the system would consist of six drones and the necessary equipment to operate them.
Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Tuesday that Lithuania was considering buying Bayraktar drones for its needs.
The Defense Ministry had previously announced plans to purchase US-made Switchblade combat drones.
According to Semeska, these plans are not contradictory.
"These are not alternatives to each other; Switchblade goes its own way," he said. "It would be good for us to have several systems so as to get to know them and assess which ones are worth expanding."
The campaign by Laisves TV, an Internet broadcaster founded by journalist and activist Andrius Tapinas, last week raised around 5.9 million euros to fund the acquisition of a Bayraktar for Ukraine.
"Tomorrow we will find out what we can buy with it," Semeska said.
Ukraine has been fighting Russia's invasion for more than three months and is calling on Western countries to send it more weapons.