The US State Department has approved the sale of MQ-9 Communications Intelligence Sensor Pod Suites and accompanying equipment to the French government as part of an estimated US$88 million deal.
Under the agreement, France has requested the purchase of eight Communications Intelligence Sensor Pod Suites, expanding upon the original agreed purchase of five suites valued at US$71 million. The recent agreement also includes ground handling equipment, spare parts, accessors, cryptographic devices, software, technical documentation, US supported engineering and logistics.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale is expected to support US interests abroad as well as the ongoing stability of the country’s NATO partners, with the agreement supporting France's Air and Space Forces to meet future threats with enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
BAE Systems will be the prime contractor under the agreement, with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems supporting the integration of the systems.
Last year, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved Australia’s request to purchase up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian aircraft for an estimated US$1.65 billion ($2.1 billion).
The deal involved the provision of a range of other related equipment, including:
- 15 Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems-D (MTS-D) EO/IR sensors;
- 16 Lynx AN/APY-8 Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) with Ground Moving Target Indicator (GTMI);
- 15 RIOTM Communication Intelligence Systems;
- 36 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigations Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Modules (SAASMs);
- six KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits for 500lb bombs;
- four MXU-650 Airfoil Groups for 500lb Paveway II GBU-12;
- seven MXU-1006 Airfoil Groups for 250lb Paveway II GBU-58;
- four MAU-169 or MAU-209 Computer Control Groups (CCGs) for 250lb/500lb Paveway II GBU-58/GBU-12;
- six FMU-139 Fuse Systems;
- 12 MK-82 General Purpose 500lb inert bombs; and
- five High Bandwidth Compact Telemetry Modules (HCTMs).
“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,” DSCA noted in a statement.