After the Australian government announced in November 19 it had selected the General Atomics MQ-9B Sky Guardian platform for its first medium altitude long endurance remotely piloted aircraft system (MALE RPAS), the country has now requested to buy up to 12 systems for its air force.
Australia said back in 2019 that it chose the MQ-9B over another General Atomics system, the MQ-9A, which cannot be certified to fly in civilian airspace and has a smaller wing span and take-off weight.
The US Stated Department, which is responsible for approving foreign military sales, has given its OK for the potential MQ-9B deal that would have an estimated value of $1.65 billion.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Australia requested to buy up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9Bs, Raytheon EO/IR sensors, Lynx AN/APY-8 synthetic aperture radars, communication intelligence systems, and embedded global positioning system/inertial navigations systems (EGI).
The deal would also include joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) tail kits and airfoil groups for guided and unguided bombs.
Other equipment that was requested includes Leonardo’s SeaSpray 7500 maritime radars and the SAGE 750 electronic surveillance measures system (ESM), as well as a training simulator, and various test and support services.
The MQ-9B will provide Australia with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. With the ability to stay in the air for 40 hours at a time, the Sky Guardian can locate submarines, provide target acquisition and counter-land and counter-surface sea capabilities for the armed forces.
“This sale will enhance interoperability between the US Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Australia has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” DSCA said in an announcement.