[The Epoch Times, December 24, 2022](Comprehensive report by Epoch Times reporter Chen Ting) The Ministry of Defense of Lithuania has signed an agreement to purchase the “Switchblade 600” drone from the United States, becoming the first The European NATO member states that ordered the attack drone.
“We are the first country in the world after the United States to purchase the Switchblade 600. These combat drones are a new redeployable capability that will give the Lithuanian army the ability to destroy enemy tanks and other armored vehicles”, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said in a statement (Link) said, “Our military has not yet had this capability.”
Together with drones, launch and control equipment, personnel training and maintenance, the entire deal is worth around 45 million euros (about 48 million U.S. dollars), the statement said.
The Switchblade 600, made by the American company AeroVironment, is sometimes called a loitering munition. It can roam the target area for reconnaissance, and attack after finding the target.
It’s unclear how many Switchblade 600 systems Lithuania will receive.
The Switchblade 600 is a new generation of long-range combat drones with high-precision optical systems, can stay in the air for up to 40 minutes, and is equipped with anti-armor warheads that can destroy heavy armored vehicles including tanks. This suicide drone attacks and destroys targets from above.
According to the US “Defense News” (Defense News) report (Link), Ukraine has used Switchblade 300 drones in the fight against Russian invasion. Other countries on Russia’s western front are also scrambling to acquire combat drones.
Poland leased an MQ-9A Reaper drone from General Atomics in October and is preparing to buy them.
Romania also signed a framework agreement with Israel’s Elbit Systems this month and earlier this week purchased seven Watchkeeper X drones to strengthen its intelligence surveillance capabilities.
At the same time, the Lithuanian Defense Minister also stated that the country may purchase Switchblade 300 drones from the United States “in the near future”. Anusauskas said the US Military Assistance Fund is expected to finance the purchase as part of military aid to European allies.
The announcement of the Switchblade 600 contract comes after Lithuania signed a $495 million deal with the United States for up to eight M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), with delivery scheduled for 2025-2026.
Editor in charge: Ye Ziwei