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Belgium and UK seek SkyGuardian tie-up

18th August 2020 - 15:59 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The air forces of Belgium and the UK have signed a bilateral letter of intent to cooperate on training, maintenance, logistical support, interoperability and capacity for the MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPAS.

Both countries are acquiring the MQ-9B for ISTAR missions: the US recently confirmed a $188.87 million FMS package for Belgium, including four SkyGuardian UAVs from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, plus two ground stations, spare parts and support equipment.

Belgium expects to receive its first MQ-9B in 2023.

In July 2020, the UK signed a contract for three MQ-9Bs (designated Protector in RAF service), with an option for 13 more.

Maj Gen Frederik Vansina, commander of the Belgian Air Component, said in a 17 August statement: ‘Our countries see great potential in developing a strategic partnership , which will allow us to take up common challenges more vigorously, in addition to rationalising the interoperability of our armed forces in the use of this cutting-edge tool.’

The MQ-9B is designed, built and certified to operate in controlled airspace and segregated (military) airspace.

From the UK perspective, Air Chf Mshl Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said: ‘The introduction of the Protector MQ-9B reflects a radical change in the execution of operations using remotely piloted aircraft in Europe and the rest of the world.’

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