Pentagon buys simulator for SkyGuardian drones destined for Belgium

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This contract of 31.72 million dollars provides for the purchase by the US Air Force, for the benefit of Belgium, via the FMS procedure (“Foreign Military Sales”, commonly practiced by Washington for its sales of state arms. to State), an MQ-9B simulator. It is accompanied by training of personnel, spare parts and support equipment, the Pentagon said Thursday in its daily contract award bulletin.

“The work (of construction of this simulator) will be carried out in Poway (in California, one of the headquarters of GA-ASI) and should be completed by March 31, 2024”, specifies the notice.

The contract is managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, based at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

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Belgium selected in October 2018 the MQ-9B SkyGuardian as a Male drone (“Medium Altitude Long Endurance”) – potentially armed.

Two systems, each comprising two devices, have been ordered, for an amount of 226 million euros. Deliveries are expected from 2023 to equip the 80th squadron stationed at the Florennes base, in Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse.

The purchase of this simulator is part of the global contract between Belgium and the United States, said on Saturday a specialist in the case at the Belga agency.

The SkyGuardian is the latest member of the long-running MQ-9 family born with the Predator in service with the American, British, French, Italian and soon to be Spanish, Dutch, Australian and Belgian armies.

With a wingspan of 24 meters and a length of 11.7 m, it is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop. It is capable of carrying out ISR missions (“Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance”), of detecting possible objectives (“Target acquisition”) and of designating targets for other armed vectors (“Target designation”) by flying for 40 hours at 40,000 feet (over 13 km altitude). With nine paypoints, this drone can be armed with missiles and bombs – a capability widely used by the United States and France in their war against jihadist armed groups in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.

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