The UK and Belgium have agreed a Bilateral Statement of Intent (SoI) to explore collaboration on the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) which both nations are acquiring.
Known as Protector RG Mk1 in the UK, MQ-9B is the first RPAS to be designed, built and certified against stringent NATO and UK Safety Certification standards equivalent to piloted aircraft to allow flight in unsegregated civilian airspace.
According to the Royal Air Force, the SoI was signed by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, and Major General Frederik Vansina, Commander of the Belgian Air Component. The RAF add that both parties will now focus on opportunities to work together on training, maintenance, logistic support, interoperability and capability enhancement.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston was quoted as saying:
“This Statement of Intent between the UK and Belgium reflects our shared ambition for Protector, the MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, working in partnership to tackle threats to our national and collective security. The Royal Air Force and Belgian Air Force will explore opportunities to train, maintain and work together on this game changing aircraft using its cutting-edge sensors and systems to protect national, NATO and European security. The introduction of Protector MQ-9B reflects a step change in remotely piloted aircraft operations in Europe and worldwide. The Royal Air Force is delighted that the Belgian Air Force will stand beside us again on that historic journey.”
Last month Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced a contract to build the first three UK Protectors with an option for 13 more in due course. Belgium is procuring four MQ-9Bs.