The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Friday announced that the US government has approved the sale of 12 MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones to Australia.
The agency disclosed through a press release that the agreement, which includes other high-tech military equipment, has a potential value of $1.7 billion.
Included in the deal are 15 multi-spectral targeting systems, 16 synthetic aperture radars, 15 communication intelligence systems, and 36 embedded global positioning systems.
The Australian government is also purchasing six joint direct attack munitions, four airfoil groups for 500lb laser-guided bombs, seven airfoil groups for 250lb laser-guided bombs, and six fuse systems from the US.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region,” the DSCA said.
“It is vital to the US national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability… Australia has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” the agency added.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian
According to developer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the MQ-9B SkyGuardian is capable of carrying multiple mission payloads and its most recent variant features improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance.
The aircraft can also operate in adverse weather and is designed to survive bird and lightning strikes.
Once the sale is complete, the unmanned aerial vehicle is expected to provide timely intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to Australia.