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Belgian MoD confirms Predator B choice, or does it?


By Nathan Gain

The Belgian defense minister Steven Vandeput for the first time confirmed the General Atomics Predator B RPAS has been selected for the Belgian Air Component’s medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) requirement.


Belgian MoD confirms Predator B choice 001 A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper/Predator B UAV
(Credit: GA)


Asked by Belgian newspapers about information concealment issues regarding the UAV and F-16 replacement programs, Vandeput aknowledged that the MoD selected the Predator B RPAS for the US$278 million program. 

In February 2017, the Belgian MoD issued a RFI, for which three companies replied. In May 2018, a working group within the Air Component took the final decision and two Israeli candidates were rejected. 

The American platform was the only one selected at the end of the RFI because of the difficulties of obtaining a European certificate for the two other Israeli candidates. The Israel-based company Elbit Systems indicates however that the certification of its system was compliant to the UE law. 

The Elbit UAV was not chosen for technical reasons, said the minister who plans to negotiate with General Atomics, which produces the Predator B. "This one meets our technical requirements, it is also the most used drone by our European and NATO partners. Everything went according to legal rules,” the minister added.

The Belgian Council of Ministers has not yet made a decision on the purchase of the US drones, however theres is now a rising probablity that the program could be frozen or even canceled.

According the MoD's "Strategic Vision for 2030", two of four systems will be purchased between 2021-2025. They will replace the 13 aged B-Hunter acquired in 2002 from Israel Aerospace Industries. 

"Our MALE drones will have the opportunity to perform an armed intervention. However, the armament must be the subject of an additional governmental decision," the Strategic vision explains.