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Belgian Air Component familiarizes with MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAS


From 2023, four MQ-9B SkyGuardians will be stationed at Florennes Air Base, in Belgium. Some Air Component technicians were able to familiarize themselves with these new unmanned aircraft in Waddington.

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Belgian Air Component familiarizes with SkyGuardian UAS 01 MQ-9B SkyGuardian (Picture source: Belgian Armed Forces)


Belgium decided in October 2018 to purchase two SkyGuardian systems from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Each system consists of a ground control station and two aircraft each.

The British Royal Air Force also acquired this remotely piloted aircraft. Belgium and the UK have signed a cooperation agreement in the areas of training, maintenance, logistical support, interoperability and capacity development.

To demonstrate its capabilities to future users, General Atomics has deployed one of its test planes at Waddington military base in Lincolnshire. For some of Belgian  technicians, this was the first opportunity to experience the new weapon system they will be working on in the future.


Belgian Air Component familiarizes with SkyGuardian UAS 02 For some of Belgian  technicians, this was the first opportunity to experience the new weapon system they will be working on in the future (Picture source: Belgian Armed Forces)


In March 2019, the U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $600 million.

The Government of Belgium has requested to purchase four (4) MQ-9B, RPA; two (2) Fixed Certifiable Ground Control Stations; five (5) AN/DAS-4 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (4 installed, 1 spare); fifteen (15) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) (12 installed, 3 spares); five (5) AN/APY-8 Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radars (4 installed, 1 spare); and five (5) Detect and Avoid Systems (4 installed, 1 spare). Also included are an Initial Spares Package (ISP) and Readiness Spares Package (RSP) to support a 5-year period of performance; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.


Belgian Air Component familiarizes with SkyGuardian UAS 04 Belgium decided in October 2018 to purchase two SkyGuardian systems from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Each system consists of a ground control station and two aircraft each (Picture source: Belgian Armed Forces)


The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the latest variant of the MQ-9 series RPAS currently operated by the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and soon Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. MQ-9B adds several key enhancements to the proven MQ-9 series allowing for better performance, lower operating and sustainment costs and access to all classes of airspace.

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian meets NATO STANAG 4671 airworthiness requirements with lightning protection, different composite materials, and sense and avoid technology; performance changes include a 24 m wingspan that has winglets and enough fuel for a 40-hour endurance at 15,000 m. Features include High Definition EO/IR Full Motion Video sensor, De/Anti-Icing System, TCAS, and Automatic Take-Off & Land. The system also includes a completely redesigned & modernized integrated ground control station with 4 crew stations.


Belgian Air Component familiarizes with SkyGuardian UAS 03 Belgium and the UK have signed a cooperation agreement in the areas of training, maintenance, logistical support, interoperability and capacity development (Picture source: Belgian Armed Forces)