The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has contracted General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) for the supply of MQ-9B SkyGuardian Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) under the country's Project Air 7003.
This follows the Government’s announcement in November 2018 that GA-ASI would provide Armed RPAS to the ADF. The ADF expects to take first delivery in the early 2020s, the company said in a statement Wednesday.
MQ-9B is part of GA-ASI’s Predator series of armed Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) RPAS that has flown more than six million flight hours till date. The company announced its intention to offer the MALE RPAS to the ADF during AVALON 2017.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is acquiring the MQ-9B as part of its Protector RG Mk1 program and is scheduled for first delivery in the early 2020s. The Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defense to negotiate for the acquisition of MQ-9B to meet the nation’s RPA requirements.
MQ-9B development is the result of a five-year, company funded program to deliver an unmanned aircraft system to meet the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of NATO and civil aviation authorities throughout the world. MQ-9B is provisioned for the GA-ASI-developed Detect and Avoid (DAA) system, which consists of air-to-air radar, Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The MQ-9B is built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, damage tolerance, and de-icing system.