The U.S. Department of State has approved a possible sale to Belgium of MQ-9B drones at an estimated cost of $600 million. Belgium has requested the purchase of four MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft and related equipment, as well as technical and logistics support
The drones are expected to enhance the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability of the Belgian military in support of national, NATO, United Nations-mandated, and other coalition operations.
The program cost includes five AN/DAS-4 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems, 15 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, five AN/APY-8 Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radars and five Detect and Avoid Systems as well as personnel training and U.S. government and contractor engineering and other support.
Launched in 2001, the MQ-9 was the first remotely-piloted unmanned aerial vehicle designed for medium-altitude long-endurance missions and can operate autonomously for both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and precision strikes.
The SkyGuardian variant was developed to meet NATO standards, will have an endurance time of 40 hours and be capable of surviving both bird and lightning strikes, according to the company.
Belgium joins the ranks of the US Air Force, NASA, and Department of Homeland Security, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom following the purchase of the drones.