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UK, Latvia to deliver essential drone capability for Ukrainian military

The United Kingdom has joined Latvia’s drone coalition to deliver thousands of “first person view” drones for the Ukrainian military and will jointly lead the project.

The United Kingdom has joined Latvia’s drone coalition to deliver thousands of “first person view” drones for the Ukrainian military and will jointly lead the project.

The drones will be delivered for the Ukrainian military to target Russian positions, armoured vehicles, and ships.

First person view drones have proven invaluable to Ukrainian soldiers, providing combat units with enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and giving them an affordable and accurate means of attacking enemy positions.

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Announced in mid-February, the UK’s membership of the coalition is expected to aid the productions of the drones at scale and at affordable price and will form part of the United Kingdom’s £200 million drone package.

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has outlined that the initiative will streamline drone acquisition, drawing from capabilities across “Western industry”.

“The UK continues to do all we can to give Ukraine what it needs – upping our aid to £2.5 billion this year and committing £200 million to manufacture drones, making us Ukraine’s largest drone supplier,” Secretary Shapps outlined.

“Today, we’re going even further. I’m proud to announce that the UK and Latvia will co-lead an international coalition to build Ukraine’s vital drone capabilities.

“Together, we will give Ukraine the capabilities it needs to defend itself and win this war, to ensure that Putin fails in his illegal and barbaric ambitions.”

Latvia’s Defence Minister, Andris Sprūds, welcomed the UK’s participation in the program.

“Along with the existing seven countries that have already joined the Drone Coalition, the UK will make a significant contribution by supporting Ukraine both with technology and helping to develop skills. The Drone Coalition has created a strong core of partnership,” Minister Sprūds explained.

The announcement comes as the United Kingdom detailed its intention to spearhead a new initiative to enhance NATO’s defence industrial capability.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Secretary Shapps, alongside 13 NATO allies and Sweden, will sign an agreement on new initiatives that will increase defence industrial capacity across the Euro-Atlantic area.

The agreement was scheduled to be signed during the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, 15 February. The MOD outlined that the agreement would replenish missile and munitions stockpiles to support Ukraine.

During the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg took the opportunity to commend the efforts of NATO nations to address increasing global insecurity.

“By the end of 2024, European allies and Canada will have added more than $600 billion for defence since we made the Defence Investment Pledge,” Stoltenberg said.

The NATO press office has confirmed that NATO allies in Europe and Canada recorded an 11 per cent increase in defence expenditure in real terms throughout 2023.

He encouraged allies who have not yet met the minimum 2 per cent defence expenditure to meet their commitments.

“In 2024, NATO allies in Europe will invest a combined total of US$380 billion in defence. For the first time, this amounts to 2 per cent of their combined GDP,” Stoltenberg noted.

“We are making real progress: European allies are spending more. However, some allies still have a ways to go. Because we agreed at the Vilnius Summit that all allies should invest 2 per cent, and that 2 per cent is a minimum.”

Liam Garman

Liam Garman

Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Liam began his career as a speech writer at New South Wales Parliament before working for world leading campaigns and research agencies in Sydney and Auckland. Throughout his career, Liam has managed and executed international media and communications campaigns spanning politics, business, industrial relations and infrastructure. He’s since shifted his attention to researching and writing extensively on geopolitics and defence. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney and a Masters in Strategy and Security with Excellence from UNSW Canberra, with a thesis on post-truth, postmodernism and disinformation operations.
 
Reach out to Liam via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn
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