US STATE Department approval has been granted for a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and related equipment, at an estimated cost of $600 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced the approval on March 26 and stated that it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on the previous day.
In addition to the four MQ-9Bs, the request also seeks two Fixed Certifiable Ground Control Stations; five AN/DAS-4 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems (four installed, one spare); 15 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) (12 installed, three spares); five AN/APY-8 Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radars (four installed, one spare); and five Detect and Avoid Systems (four installed, one spare).
Also included are an Initial Spares Package (ISP) and Readiness Spares Package (RSP) to support a five-year period of performance; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; US Government and contractor engineering; technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and programme support.
The DSCA states that this potential sale enhances the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) 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 US and Belgian military and peacekeeping forces.
Belgium intends to use these UAVs to provide for the defence of its deployed troops, regional security, domestic security and interoperability with the US/NATO partners. The current fleet of Belgian Air Component aircraft have proven insufficient to support sustained and persistent ISR operations, but the proposed sale will enable the Belgian Air Component to conduct persistent and wide area ISR, including target acquisition, target designation, providing precision co-ordinates for Global Positioning System (GPS)-aided munitions, battle damage assessment, signal intelligence, communication and data relays.