Belgium and the United Kingdom partner to operate SkyGuardian

Belgium and the United Kingdom have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in the operation of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-A SI) MQ-9B unmanned aerial systems. As the Belgian Ministry of Defense has informed Defensie, the “MQ-9B International Cooperation Program” (MICP) enables cooperation in various areas such as certification, training, maintenance and logistical support. Six other countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Canada, Lithuania and Norway) participate in the MCIP as observers.

In 2020, Belgium ordered four MQ-9B SkyGuardians and two ground stations for the equivalent of approximately €175 million via Foreign Military Sales from GA-A SI. Systems are scheduled to be delivered by March 2024. In mid-2022, the MQ-9B infrastructure package is launched, which includes management, deployment, and maintenance areas.

As Defensie writes, SkyGuardian is the first RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) system designed, built and certified to stringent standards equivalent to manned aircraft so that it can fly in civilian airspace. This version had its first flight in 2020 (ESuT reported). The system will be controlled remotely by a crew of three operating from a control station at Florin Air Force Base. This station includes a remote pilot’s cockpit, sensor operator and mission reconnaissance coordinator.

Belgium will receive MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial systems in 2024. (Photo: Defense Belge)

Belgium says it wants to use SkyGuardian for reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. These missions can be carried out in support of international coalitions as well as for national missions. Equipped with the latest sensors, SkyGuardian can be deployed anywhere in the world.

During the same flight, SkyGuardian can collect real-time strategic, operational and even tactical information from all actors on the ground. SkyGuardian’s presence will increase the security of forces on Earth.

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The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is an unmanned aerial system with a length of 11.70 meters and a maximum take-off weight of 5.7 tons. She can carry 2.2 tons of weapons and equipment in nine external stations and 363 kg internally. Powered by a turboprop engine, the device can fly up to 12,200 meters, and the maximum range is 11,000 km. At a flight speed of about 400 km/h, the SkyGuardian can fly continuously for about 40 hours.

Editorial / Goat

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