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”.
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.