The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced the approval of the sale of up to 12 General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and a comprehensive support package to Australia.
The aircraft are being procured by the Commonwealth to fulfil the RAAF’s Project AIR 7003 armed UAS requirement for which the MQ-9B SkyGuardian – a certified and longer-ranging version of the USAF’s MQ-9A Block 5 Reaper – was selected in November 2019.
The estimated US$1.651bn (A$2.13bn) sale includes the 12 air vehicles, sensors including 15 Raytheon MTS-D EO/IR balls, 16 General Atomics AN/APY-8 Lynx synthetic aperture radars, Leonardo/Selex SeaSpray 7500 maritime radars, 15 RIOTM COMINT systems, and other sensors and communications equipment.
Also included is a small package of training, telemetry, and other enabling systems for 250lb and 500lb JDAM and Paveway guided bombs and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, as well as an MQ-9B simulator, test and ground support equipment, an initial spares package, technical publications, and an initial training support package.
The SkyGuardian has also been selected by the UK to operate as the Protector RG.1 in RAF service, and the US State Department has also approved its sale to the governments of Belgium, Taiwan, and the UAE.