State Department greenlights MQ-9B sale to Australia

By Justin Doubleday / April 26, 2021 at 1:22 PM

The State Department has approved a potential $1.7 billion sale of MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft to Australia, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

DSCA formally notified Congress of the proposed sale today, according to the agency's announcement. The potential deal involves 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B aircraft along with associated sensors, weapons and equipment.

The sale would improve interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, according to DSCA. "Australia has demonstrated a commitment to modernizing its military and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces," the agency said.

According to a December 2019 announcement by MQ-9 manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the Australian government selected the MQ-BB "SkyGuardian" variant to provide the Australian Defence Force with an armed, remotely piloted air system under "Project Air 7003."

The principal contractors on the proposed deal would be General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Leonardo SpA, according to DSCA.