NATO Member to Receive Four MQ-9B UAVs 

NATO Member to Receive Four MQ-9B UAVs 

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

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Four MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be built for Belgium under terms of a $188.9 million contract. The US Department of State has approved the sale in March 2019 upon Belgium’s request designed to enhance “the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability of the Belgian military in support of national, NATO, United Nations-mandated, and other coalition operations.”

The US Air Force asked General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to build the four MQ-9B UAVS, two certifiable ground-control stations, spare parts, and support equipment.

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian is a version of the company’s Predator B UAV that meets the STANAG-4671 NATO standard, which is the NATO UAV airworthiness certification to enable military UAVs to operate in the airspace of other NATO members. 

The UAVs are built from the ground up to meet global airworthiness standards, including hardware and software upgrades such as improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance, high-reliability flight-control software, enhancements that enable operations in adverse weather conditions like icing, and the ability to survive bird and lightning strikes.

MQ-9B can be configured with UAV sensor payloads such as detect and avoid (DAA), and airborne due regard radar (DRR) for operation in non-cooperative airspace.

The UAV can fly as high as 40,000 feet above sea level, as fast as 210 knots, and can fly unrefueled for as long as 40 hours.

According to, the weaponized version of the MQ-9B can carry a variety of precision-guided missions, multimode maritime surface-search radar, and automation information system.