WARSAW, Poland — Lithuania’s Defence Ministry has signed a deal to buy Switchblade 600 drones from the United States, becoming the first European NATO member to order the kamikaze system.
“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 at a distance of up to 40 kilometers. Our army has not had such a capacity until now,” Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said in a ministerial statement.
The deal is worth about €45 million (U.S. $48 million), the statement said. The American company AeroVironment makes the kamikaze drones, sometimes referred to as loitering munitions.
Lithuanian MoD spokesperson Martynas Bendikas declined to say how many Switchblade 600 systems it ordered.
As part of its efforts to combat Russia’s ongoing invasion, Ukraine has used Switchblade 300 drones in battle. Likewise, other countries along Russia’s western front are purchasing combat UAVs. Poland, for example, leased a set of MQ-9A Reaper drones from General Atomics in October, and it’s preparing to purchase the unmanned aircraft. And Romania this month inked a framework agreement with Israel’s Elbit Systems to buy up to seven Watchkeeper X drones earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian military may also acquire Switchblade 300 drones from the U.S. “in the near future,” according to the ministry. Vilnius hopes Washington will finance that possible purchase as part of military assistance to European allies, the statement said.
The Switchblade 600 order comes shortly after Lithuania and the U.S. signed a $495 million deal for as many as eight M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Deliveries are scheduled for the 2025-2026 time frame.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.