The Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that it will retire its Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) B-Hunter reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) four months earlier than planned.
The plans – which are part of a wider transformation effort within the Belgian military – were revealed on June 24. In a statement, the Belgian MoD cited that the B-Hunter’s low availability and its inability to meet modern operational standards and requirements as reasons for the retirement being brought forward.
“Early retirement will allow released personnel to optimally prepare for the 2023 planned deployment of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian and to strengthen other weapon systems. For the initial technical support of the MQ-9B, maximum use will be made of industry,” the release said.
AirForces Intelligence data states that, as of June 28, the Belgian Air Component operates a total of 12 IAI B-Hunter UAVs under 80 UAV Squadron at Florennes. The platform entered service with the air arm in July 2002 and 18 were delivered. Six aircraft have been lost to attrition.