General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has signed a Foreign Military Sales contract with the U.S. Air Force for Belgian Ministry of Defense to acquire the MQ-9B SkyGuardian® Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
The contract covers the design, development, integration and production of the RPAS with its EO/IR video and SAR/GMTI surveillance payloads, as well as Certifiable Ground Control Stations (CGCS), Portable Pre-Flight/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E), ground support equipment and spares. First delivery is expected in 2023.
“We look forward to providing our RPAS to meet Belgium’s mission requirements, while also supporting the NATO Alliance. Through our Belgian R&D seed-funding initiative, we are connected with many Belgian companies interested in further improving the capabilities of the SkyGuardian system,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI.
SkyGuardian has garnered significant interest from customers throughout the world. The UK Ministry of Defence selected SkyGuardian for its MQ-9B Protector program, and recently concluded the production contract for deliveries to the Royal Air Force. SkyGuardian was also selected by the Australian Defence Force under Project Air 7003.
MQ-9B is GA-ASI’s most advanced RPAS. GA-ASI named its MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian, and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian®, which is fitted with a multimode 360-degree field-of-regard Maritime Patrol Radar and optional sonobuoy capability.
MQ-9B development began in 2014 as a company-funded program to deliver an RPAS to meet NATO’s stringent airworthiness type-certification standard (STANAG 4671). STANAG certification will enable SkyGuardian to operate in civil airspace and better perform border patrol, fire detection and firefighting support, maritime patrol, and resource monitoring missions. MQ-9B is provisioned for the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System (DAAS) to enhance safety of operations in civil and military airspace. The MQ-9B is built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, a damage tolerant airframe, and a de-icing system.
In another development, GA‑ASI) announced it will engage Canadian companies to participate in the development and success of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian® RPAS. Companies with an interest in participating can apply using GA-ASI’s web-based participation request form.
“GA-ASI is always looking to build on our existing Canadian industry relationships. A strong North American industrial partnership contributes to the growth and success of our domestic and international endeavors. Team SkyGuardian Canada is aimed at building long-term relationships that advance Remotely Piloted Systems and Autonomous Technologies (RPS-AT) and developing sustainable jobs in Canada,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar.
With more than six million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas.