The US State Department has cleared General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to export four MQ-9 unmanned air systems to Spain, says the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in a notice to Congress on 6 October.

The approval supports Spain’s request for two surveillance systems – the Raytheon multi-spectral targeting system (MTS-B) and the GA-ASI Lynx synthetic aperture radar. No weapons are included in the export package.

DSCA estimates the total cost of the sale to Spain, including at least two years of contractor logistics support, is $243 million.

The Spanish air force selected the MQ-9 in August over a rival bid from the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP.

The air force plans to use the MQ-9 mainly for homeland security, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, with the sensor suite providing real-time intelligence.

GA-ASI and the Spanish air force are now negotiating an agreement on offsets related to the purchase, the DSCA notice says.

If the deal is finalized, Spain would become the fifth international MQ-9 operator, joining France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.