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Latvia Allocates $21M for ‘Drone Army’ Development

The Latvian government is investing 20 million euros ($21.8 million) to develop a “drone army” for warfighters.

The effort supports Riga’s continuing efforts to modernize the armed forces’ autonomous capabilities and enhance partnerships with the local defense industry.

About half of the funding will be used to procure drones from Latvian companies, while the remainder will be dispensed for a mobile training and testing ground in Selia by June.

Latvian Defence Minister Andris Sprūds noted that about seven companies have passed drone tests and have already joined negotiations for the acquisition of up to 1,000 drones, Latvian news agency LSM reported.

Selected contractors will receive 600,000 euros ($652,000) once the framework is finalized.

Alongside the investment, Sprūds said in an X update that the defense ministry will extend competency programs to create drone pilots in collaboration with the State Defense Service, the Colonel Oskar Kalpak Vocational High School, and the National Guard segment Youth Guard.

‘National Drones’

Sprūds emphasized that the Latvian drone army is a separate effort from the country’s existing engagement with the multinational Drone Coalition for Ukraine, in which allied nations pool varying unmanned aerial systems to aid Kyiv.

Latvia’s own drones will also be independent of the recently announced Baltic-NATO cooperation to form a “drone wall” that will protect allied borders from future aggression.

However, Riga is open to contributing some of the forthcoming aircraft for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

“We will consider the details that lie beneath this proposal, but that does not prevent us from moving forward with the development of our own drone capabilities. This year will be a major breakthrough,” Sprūds remarked.

“The most important thing is why drones are needed and why national drones: it is a matter of national defense over the long term, so that we are not dependent on suppliers, but promote our combat capabilities and local industry.”

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