Belgium is set to acquire the new MQ-9B SkyGuardian medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The Government of Belgium has approved Belgian Defence to begin negotiations with the US for the procurement of the aircraft.

Manufacturer of the remotely piloted aircraft system General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA‑ASI) has also been notified.

GA-ASI chief executive officer Linden Blue said: “We look forward to providing our unmanned aircraft systems to meet Belgium’s mission requirements, while also supporting the Nato alliance.

“We are also eager to work with our industrial partners in Belgium on a host of activities ranging from manufacturing to maintenance.”

“The aircraft features more than 40-hour endurance, self-deployment, satellite communication controlled automatic take-off and landing, and detect-and-avoid capabilities.”

GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian is the latest-generation variant of its multi-mission Predator B fleet.

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By GlobalData

Designed in accordance with Nato Stanag 4671 UAV system airworthiness requirements, the unmanned aerial vehicle can carry out a range of missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), maritime patrol, border surveillance, and disaster relief.

The maritime patrol variant of the autonomous aircraft is designated SeaGuardian.

In July, MQ-9B SkyGuardian became the first MALE UAS to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.

The aircraft features more than 40-hour endurance, self-deployment, satellite communication controlled automatic take-off and landing, and detect-and-avoid capabilities.

The aircraft has been selected by the UK Royal Air Force for its Protector RG Mk1 programme.

Recently, the Australian Government selected GA‑ASI’s MQ-9 Reaper variant as the country’s first armed RPAS for use by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).