General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a not-to-exceed $188. 9 million undefinitized contract action (UCA) for Belgian MQ-9B SkyGuardian procurement.
The contract covers the design, development, integration and production of the four MQ-9B unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) with its Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) video and Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator (SAR/GMTI) surveillance payloads, as well as two Certifiable Ground Control Stations (CGCS), Portable Pre-Flight/Post-Flight Equipment (P3E), ground support equipment and spares.
Work will be performed in Poway, California. First delivery is expected in 2023 and the contract is expected to be completed by March 31, 2024.
“We look forward to providing our RPAS to meet Belgium’s mission requirements, while also supporting the NATO Alliance,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “Through our Belgian R&D seed-funding initiative, we are connected with many Belgian companies interested in further improving the capabilities of the SkyGuardian system.”
The sale of four MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAVs to Belgium under the FMS program was approved by the U.S. State Department in March last year.
The new aircraft will enable the Belgian Air Component (Belgian Air Force) to conduct persistent and wide area ISR, including target acquisition, target designation, providing precision coordinates for Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided munitions, battle damage assessment, signal intelligence, communication, and data relays.
In addition to the Belgian Air Force, MQ-9B has been selected by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) for its PROTECTOR RG Mk1 program and the Australian Government for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) under Project Air 7003.
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, which is fitted with a multimode 360-degree field-of-regard Maritime Patrol Radar and optional sonobuoy capability..
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’s stringent airworthiness type-certification standard (STANAG 4671).
STANAG certification will enable SkyGuardian to operate in civil airspace and better perform border patrol, fire detection and firefighting support, maritime patrol, and resource monitoring missions. MQ-9B is provisioned for the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid System (DAAS) to enhance safety of operations in civil and military airspace. The MQ-9B is built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, a damage tolerant airframe, and a de-icing system.
The RPA features endurance of more than 40 hours, rapid integration of new payloads using nine hardpoints, all-weather, short-field, self-deployment through SATCOM controlled Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC), Lynx Multi-mode Radar and a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system.