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07:21 AM, March 28, 2019
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Sky Guardian

The United States has given its approval for NATO member Belgium to purchase General Atomics MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones in a deal worth $600 million.

The deal would include four MQ-9B drones, two ground stations, five AN/DAS-4 multispectral targeting systems, 15 embedded GPS/inertial navigation systems, five AN/APY-8 Lynx synthetic aperture radars, and five detect-and-avoid systems, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

The contract also includes spares, testing and training equipment necessary to support a five-year period of operations.

According to DSCA, Belgium will use the Sky Guardian drones for domestic security and to increase interoperability with NATO allies.

The proposed sale will enable the Belgian Air Component to conduct persistent and wide area ISR, including target acquisition, target designation, providing precision coordinates for Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided munitions, battle damage assessment, signal intelligence, communication, and data relays, the statement said.

The MQ-9 Reaper is the primary offensive strike unmanned aerial vehicle for the US Air Force. With its significant loiter time, wide-range sensors, multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons. It can perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets.

In order to fly over national airspace, the Sky Guardian meets NATO STANAG 4671 airworthiness requirements with lightning protection, different composite materials, and sense and avoid technology; performance changes include a 79 ft (24 m) wingspan that has winglets and enough fuel for a 40-hour endurance at 50,000 ft (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.

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