Latvian army loses drone above Latvian-Russian border

The National Armed Forces (NBS), lost contact with a drone on Saturday, September 23, that may have landed on Russian soil. The incident took place during military exercises Namejs 2023, the Ministry of Defense (AM) said Sunday.

AM said the drone was used for land observation in the Latvian-Russian border area during the 'Namejs'  training exercises which are currently in full swing.

Communication with the aircraft was lost in the territory of Latvia. Its potential landing location was determined by the previous flight path and direction of the wind. AM noted a high probability that the surveillance aircraft landed in Russian territory.

AM explained that considering Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, surveillance of Latvia's external borders, airspace, and territorial waters is carried out under an increased regime. The Ministry also recalled that NATO allies provide a rotary airspace patrol mission over all Baltic States.

The AM said that the drone was not militarily armed, but was intended for surveillance.

In order to avoid any escalation of events, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed Russia of what happened, as is international practice. At the same time, “it is not improbable that Russian propaganda could present the issue in a light that it prefers,” AM representatives said.

Commenting on whether the aircraft could further threaten airspace, AM said that after a complete breakdown in communications in the territory of Latvia, the drone turned on emergency landing mode. But the Ministry declined to provide further details on the technical specifications of the drone.

A service investigation has been launched in relation to the event, Defense Minister Andris Sprūds (Progressives) told Latvian Television on Monday morning. This is to clarify the technical reasons why contact with the drone was lost. How long the investigation might be, Sprūds did not predict.

From September 17 to October 2, the active phase of the national defense training “Namejs 2023” takes place in the eastern border area of Latvia. 

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