Dutch Ministry of Defence to Arm MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Dutch Ministry of Defence to Arm MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Dutch Ministry of Defence to Arm MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The Dutch Ministry of Defence is to arm Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (MALE UAVs). The weapons will be acquired from the United States via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and are estimated to cost between EUR100 million (USD108 million) and EUR250 million (USD270 million). The four Reapers so far received by the RNLAF need to be upgraded to carry GBU-12 precision-guided bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles, the six that are scheduled to be delivered in 2026 do not. The Ministry of Defence aims to have the first ammunition in stock and ready for an initial weapons capability by 2025. Full operating capability is scheduled for 2028.

On 19 June 2013, General Atomics and Fokker Technologies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to offer the MQ-9 Reaper to the Dutch government for their need of a MALE UAV. The MOU recognizes that Fokker will assist in maintenance and support of the aircraft in the Netherlands if a deal goes through. On 21 November 2013, the Dutch Minister of Defense announced that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has selected the MQ-9 Reaper Block-V as its new MALE UAV. The new MALE UAV 306 squadron will be based at Leeuwarden Air Base. In July 2018 the Dutch government signed a Letter of Acceptance for the acquisition through the Foreign Military Sales process.[150]

Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) MQ-9A Reaper
Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. (Photo by Dutch Ministry of Defence)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force MQ-9 Reaper Block-V medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles is to have the Synthetic Aperture Radar with the Maritime Search option and also a special ground search radar with more range and electronic sensors to detect ground radar and signals. The RNLAF bought four ground stations (two at Homebase, two at forward operating base) and four MQ-9s Block-V. The aircraft are to reach full operational status in 2023. Four more systems are planned. The decision was also made to arm the Reapers.

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (sometimes called Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF). The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft (RPV/RPA) by the USAF to indicate ground control by humans. The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance. The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and can be controlled by the same ground systems. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine (compared to the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine).

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