Belgium has secured approval for a potentially $600 million acquisition of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' MQ-9B SkyGuardian.
The US Department of State determination moves Brussels closer to obtaining four of the medium-altitude, long-endurance type, which will be equipped with General Atomics' detect and avoid technology to enable flight in non-segregated airspace. Other key equipment includes the airframer's Lynx synthetic aperture radar and a Raytheon multi-spectral targeting system sensor.
Also included in the prospective sale are two fixed ground control stations, personnel training, spare parts "to support a five-year period of performance" and in-service support for the remotely piloted air system. Brussels' new aircraft will be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks.
"It is vital to the US national interest to assist Belgium to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defence capability," the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency says. "The current fleet of Belgian Air Component aircraft have proven insufficient to support sustained and persistent ISR operations," it adds.
General Atomics early this year announced partnering agreements with Belgian-based suppliers DronePort, Esterline, Newtec, Sabca and Thales Belgium in support of its sales bid in the country.