A $600 million sale of MQ-9B Predator remotely piloted aircraft to Belgium's military forces by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems was approved on Tuesday by the U.S.State Department. Photo courtesy of General Atomics
March 27 (UPI) -- Belgium's armed forces received approval to buy General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones, the Defense Department announced.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a division of the Department of Defense, said on Tuesday it received approval from the State Department for the sale.
The $600 million sale would include four MQ-9B remote piloted aircraft, as well as tracking systems, navigation systems, radar and other ancillary devices and training to support five years of performance.
The equipment, whose sale must be approved by the U.S. Congress, is meant to support the security of Belgium, a NATO ally.
Belgium in November selected the SkyGuardian and General Atomics started negotiating with the Pentagon for the sale. General Atomics also announced on March 19 it would start identifying developers and suppliers in Belgium to develop the platform there.
"This potential sale enhances the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability of the Belgian military in support of national, NATO, United Nation-mandated, and other coalition operations. Commonality of ISR capabilities increases interoperability between the U.S. and Belgian military and peacekeeping forces," the DSCA statement said.
The MQ-9B is the latest generation of General Atomics' multi-mission Predator B fleet of drones -- the SkyGuardian is designed for civil airspace SeaGuardian for maritime surveillance. The platform demonstrated its capabilities by becoming, in July 2018, the first medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.