General Atomics from US wins a contract to deliver four MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones to Belgium

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ9B Sky Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft. (Picture source Wikimedia)

According to a contract released by the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense) on August 14, 2020, American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, has been awarded a not-to-exceed $188,866,819 undefinitized contract action for Belgium MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft procurement.

This contract provides for four MQ-9B unmanned air vehicles, two Certifiable Ground Control Stations, spares and support equipment. Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be completed March 31, 2024. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Belgium and is the result of a sole-source acquisition.

In March 2019, the U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $600 million.

The Government of Belgium has requested to purchase four (4) MQ-9B, RPA; two (2) Fixed Certifiable Ground Control Stations; five (5) AN/DAS-4 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (4 installed, 1 spare); fifteen (15) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) (12 installed, 3 spares); five (5) AN/APY-8 Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radars (4 installed, 1 spare); and five (5) Detect and Avoid Systems (4 installed, 1 spare). Also included are an Initial Spares Package (ISP) and Readiness Spares Package (RSP) to support a 5-year period of performance; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the latest variant of the MQ-9 series RPAS currently operated by the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and soon Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. MQ-9B adds several key enhancements to the proven MQ-9 series allowing for better performance, lower operating and sustainment costs and access to all classes of airspace.

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian meets NATO STANAG 4671 airworthiness requirements with lightning protection, different composite materials, and sense and avoid technology; performance changes include a 24 m wingspan that has winglets and enough fuel for a 40-hour endurance at 15,000 m. Features include High Definition EO/IR Full Motion Video sensor, De/Anti-Icing System, TCAS, and Automatic Take-Off & Land. The system also includes a completely redesigned & modernized integrated ground control station with 4 crew stations.

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