WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved the proposed $1 billion sale of 26 Predator B unmanned aircraft and supporting equipment to the United Kingdom.
The sale includes the drones in addition to 12 Advanced Ground Control Stations, 12 Multi-spectral Targeting Systems, 25 AN/APY-8 Lynx IIe Block 20A Synthetic Aperture Radars, and other communication and identification devices. Equipment spares are also included.
In a statement announcing the State Department's approval, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notes Britain is a close ally of the United States, and the sale will bolster U.S. foreign policy interests by enhancing the country's ability to support NATO operations.
The agency goes on to add the Predator aircraft will be used by U.K. armed forces for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes to support counterterrorism operations. Due to the country's experience operating the MQ-9 Reaper, the DSCA suggests U.K. military personnel will have no problems adopting the aircraft.
The General Atomics Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle has an endurance of over 27 hours, and can operate up to 50,000 in the air with a 3,850-pound payload capacity. The aircraft is reportedly twice as fast as its predecessor, and is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine.