Lithuania has signed a contract with the US to procure Switchblade 600 kamikaze tactical drones to strengthen the country’s armed forces.

Announced by the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (MND), the contract has an estimated value of €45m.

The deal was signed earlier this week between the US Government and Lithuanian MND’s procurement arm Defence Materiel Agency.

Apart from the Switchblade drones, the contract includes procurement of associated launch and control equipment as well as the maintenance and support package.

The US will also provide a personnel training simulation system for the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said: “Aside from the US itself, we are the first country worldwide to acquire the Switchblade 600 system.

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“The drones are a new deployable capability that will allow the Lithuanian Armed Forces to destroy enemy tanks and other armoured equipment 40km away.

“Our Armed Forces has not had such a capability before.”

The Lithuanian MND confirmed that the US will also provide Switchblade 300, which is a smaller and more lightweight variant of Switchblade 600 drones.

Delivery of Switchblade 300 drones will be financed by the US military assistance funds.

Built by US-based uncrewed aircraft systems manufacturer AeroVironment, the Switchblade 600 kamikaze is a long-range loitering munition.

It has been designed to provide precision optics to destroy targets in a direct downwards attack.

The new generation drone has a flight time of up to 40 minutes and can be used as an effective anti-tank system to counter heavy armoured vehicles and tanks.  

The acquisition comes a few days after the Lithuanian MND announced to sign a contract with the US to procure a total of eight high mobility artillery rocket systems.