Russia Arms Troops on Western Border With Drones

Russian drone exercise 2
A Russian drone exercise. Russia is planning to arm troops on its western border with drones.

Russia will be arming its western troops with drones, as it continues to expand its budding unmanned aircraft program, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

The country's western military district spans most of Russia's border with EU and NATO members, including the strategic Baltic enclave, Kaliningrad.

The Russian military's newly established drone branch will now begin training the country's westernmost servicemen in the use of unmanned aircraft, according to the district's press team. The current forces in the region include 50 Russian-made drones, including units tested by the military previously, such as the Orlan 10, Leer 3 and Granat.

The armed forces are currently focusing on promoting the widespread use of surveillance drones, though drones with bomber capabilities have also been teased by the state military kit contractor Rostec.

The new exercises by Russia's western forces will seek to increase the use of drone reconnaissance and frontline intelligence gathering, with operators learning to use the technology in the region's geographic and weather conditions.

During recent trials of drones in Russia's west, Poland's Ministry of Defence complained of a spike in airspace incursions, while Baltic nations have experienced an increase in NATO sorties escorting unannounced Russian jets heading towards their airspace.