General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) has announced that the Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to begin negotiations with the U.S. Government to acquire the MQ-9B SkyGuardian Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
“We look forward to providing our unmanned aircraft systems to meet Belgium’s mission requirements, while also supporting the NATO Alliance,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “We are also eager to work with our industrial partners in Belgium on a host of activities ranging from manufacturing to maintenance.”
MQ-9B is the latest generation of GA-ASI’s multi-mission Predator B fleet. GA-ASI named its baseline MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian. MQ-9B is the result of a five-year company-funded effort to deliver an unmanned aircraft system that can operate in non-segregated, civil airspace, which meets the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of NATO STANAG 4671.
To highlight these capabilities in support of the celebration of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force 100th anniversary (RAF100), SkyGuardian became the first Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) UAS to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. The system features >40 hour endurance, all-weather, short-field, self-deployment (through SATCOM controlled automatic take-off and landing), and “detect-and-avoid” capabilities.
SkyGuardian has also been selected by the Royal Air Force for its PROTECTOR RG Mk1 program.