More TB2, Please: After a Lithuanian broadcaster raised millions of dollars in donations from viewers to assist with Ukraine’s defense against Russian forces, Turkey’s Defence Industry Agency weapons manufacturer Baykar announced that a Bayraktar TB2 advanced combat drone would be donated on behalf of the country.
Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska expressed gratitude for the offer, following a meeting in Ankara.
“We came to Turkey to agree on conditions for the drone purchase, but they prepared the most pleasant surprise possible for us,” Semaska said.
The donation was confirmed on Twitter by Baykar, which also included photographs of Semaska posing with one of the drones manufactured by the company.
“The people of Lithuania have honorably raised funds to buy a Bayraktar TB2 for Ukraine. Upon learning this, Baykar will gift a Bayraktar TB2 to Lithuania free of charge and asks those funds go to Ukraine for humanitarian aid,” the drone manufacturer said.
Semaska also revealed that the Lithuanian government is presently looking to purchase the same Bayraktar drone for its own military, or potentially the upgraded TB3 model.
“We are looking into a TB2 but it could also be a TB3 or another drone armed with missiles,” the government official told Reuters.
Lithuania Raises 6 Million Euros for TB2
Andrius Tapinas, a Lithuanian journalist from Laisves TV, recently announced a plan to crowdfund the purchase of a Bayraktar TB2 attack drone in a nationwide telethon.
Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Tapinas said that the broadcaster had been trying to help Ukraine since the beginning of the war, and that he aimed to use his position to provide more than just humanitarian assistance.
“Two weeks ago, at the request of the Ukrainian Embassy in Lithuania, we collected 330,000 euros ($354,000) to buy two Estonian-made observation drones that are used for guiding artillery fire,” Tapinas explained. “We did that in 16 hours.”
Tapinas explained how he then contacted the Lithuanian Defense Ministry and proposed that he raise funds to purchase the drone, getting the green light from the government on May 25.
“The minister called me and said, ‘everything is ready. They have agreed to sell a Bayraktar. All that is left is to collect the money. Show what you can do!’” Tapinas said.
Donations quickly poured in, with the network raising a total of 5.8 million euros in a matter of days. Most donations were under 200 euros, with just a handful of donations worth more than 20,000 euros.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.