US orders MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones for Taiwan
The US Air Force has ordered four MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for the armed forces of Taiwan.
The procurement comes as the island nation continues to prepare for a potential Chinese invasion.
According to the contract announcement, the company will also supply Taipei with two ground control stations, spare parts, and other support equipment.
The agreement has a ceiling value of $217.6 million.
Work for the contract will be carried out in California and is scheduled for completion in 2025.
The foreign military sale was initially approved by the US State Department in 2020, but the estimated cost was $600 million.
The MQ-9B SkyGuardian drone is designed to deliver persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for the armed forces.
It can fly over the horizon via satellite for more than 40 hours, even in adverse weather conditions.
The unmanned system can also be configured to support electronic warfare, airborne early warning, and anti-submarine warfare missions.
Washington’s procurement of four SkyGuardians for Taiwan is seen as an effective way to monitor Beijing, which has ramped up military activities near the self-governing island nation.
The original approved foreign military sale included the L3 Wescam MX-20 multi-spectral targeting system, Raytheon’s SeaVue maritime multi-role patrol radar, and Leonardo’s Sage 750 electronic surveillance measures system.
“This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing timely intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, target acquisition, and counter-land, counter-sea, and anti-submarine strike capabilities for its security and defense,” the US State Department said in 2020.
“The capability is a deterrent to regional threats and will strengthen the recipient’s self-defense.”