General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System

GA-ASI to Produce MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Belgium

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) Poway, California, has been awarded a $31,720,280 contract action for the Belgium MQ-9B SkyGuardian procurement. This contract provides for one MQ-9B simulator, training, spares and support equipment. Work will be performed in Poway, California, and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2024. This contract involves 100% Foreign Military Sales to Belgium and this award is the result of a sole source acquisition. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $31,720,280 are being obligated at the time of award. The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

In January 2018, the Belgian Ministry of Defence reportedly decided on the MQ-9B to fulfill its medium-altitude long-range UAV requirement. Ministry officials stated that a request for information had been sent to potential suppliers of the system, and that they had received responses from all of them. In October 2018, Belgium confirmed its selection of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian variant, adding that it would be considered a “reconnaissance” asset, suggesting it will not be used to carry weapons. In March 2019, the US Department of State approved the sale of four MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAVs to Belgium for $600 million, pending approval by US Congress. According to DSCA, Belgium will use the Sky Guardian drones for domestic security and to increase interoperability with NATO allies.

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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System

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 General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF). GA-ASI has developed a variant of the Predator® B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) series that meets NATO standards (STANAG-4671), and in cooperation with the FAA, will subsequently meet airworthiness certification standards domestically and around the world. It leverages both the Predator B RPA and Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS) as points-of-departure systems and identifies and incorporates the changes needed to achieve a “Type-Certifiable” system. The Royal Air Force was the very first to acquire the SkyGuardian, referred to as PROTECTOR by the British acquisition program, as a replacement for its Reaper fleet.

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