General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc has been awarded a $31,720,280 contract for MQ-9B SkyGuardian procurement activity for Belgium.

According to the firms’ website, the system is described as follows:

“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.

MQ-9B contains both hardware and software upgrades, such as improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance and more robust flight control software, as well as enhancements allowing operations in adverse weather including icing conditions. Additionally, the aircraft will be designed to survive bird and lightning strikes.”

The contract provides for one MQ-9B simulator, training, spares and support equipment.

According to a news release from the firm, 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 of $31,720,280 are being obligated at the time of the award.”

Very recently, an MQ-9B SkyGuardian was over Scotland to demonstrate its “capability in a maritime environment”.

SkyGuardian drone conducting trials over Scotland

The aircraft is effectively a prototype for the ‘Protector’ drone. A fleet of 16 Protector drones are to be stationed at RAF Waddington replacing the less capable Predator drone fleet.

You can read more about UK plans for the type by clicking here or by clicking the link below.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
7 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ron
Ron
11 hours ago

So what is the RAF going to do with its Predator fleet? I can think of two things to do with it if the airframe has some life left 1. give them to the border force. 2. give them to the Ukraine.

Andy a
Andy a
9 hours ago
Reply to  Ron

Give to border force along with brimstone?
Que liberal shouting and indignation??😂

Ron
Ron
8 hours ago
Reply to  Andy a

Thanks for the chuckle Andy.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
9 hours ago
Reply to  Ron

Well We now have 10 of them, with the 10th one arriving this year to replace a decommissioned one lost 5 years ago? Not sure on the lifespan of a drone but they are quite young – only were procured in the 2000’s so should be quite young. Border Force sounds attractive as I think the US does that – at the current rate of things Ukraine might not exist for much longer – I think maybe they could be marinised and used for Maritime patrol of North Sea or Channel?

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
8 hours ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

US Customs and Border Protection flies them on both the Mexican and Canadian borders. Parenthetically, the Mexican Drug Cartels make large use of drones to smuggle heroin across the border. Biden recently banned civilians from flying drones around the Mexican border for two weeks to keep US news agencies from filming the swarms of illegal aliens he is allowing into the country.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 hours ago
Reply to  Ron

Keep them in the Middle East where they are used. If the crews and resources are available.

The Predators do not have the Protector tech to fly in our busy airspace.

So keep them hitting enemies in the Middle East.

Crabfat
Crabfat
35 seconds ago

Slightly off-topic… the other evening I was on FlightRadar24, looking at a Watchkeeper orbiting over the sea, several miles off Akrotiri base. It would have been around midnight local time, so not observable from the ground. Possibly a training mission.