Netherlands sign agreement to acquire four US MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 MALE UAVs

The Netherlands Ministry of Defense signed an agreement with the U.S. on July 17, 2018,  for the acquisition of four unarmed MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the Farnborough International Airshow in England.

Netherlands sign agreement to acquire four US MQ 9 Reaper Block 5 MALE UAVs 925 001
U.S. Air Force MQ-9A Reaper (Picture source Wikipedia)

The purchase had been in the works since 2003, but was postponed and put into abeyance several times (2005, 2010 and 2015) in the following years due to fiscal pressures. With the signing of a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) by the head of the Dutch Defense Materiel Organization (DMO) the procurement will now move forward.

In February 2015, the U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Netherlands for MQ-9 Reapers and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $339 million. The sale proposal included 4 MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft, 4 Mobile Ground Control Stations Block 30 (option Block 50), different types of optics and communication systems.

Delivery of the Dutch Reapers is expected to begin in summer 2020, enabling the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) to be the third operator of the Block 5 variant alongside Spain and the U.S. The Dutch Reapers will be assigned to the 306 Squadron and operate from Leeuwarden Air Base.

The 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).

On 24 May 2012, General Atomics conducted the successful first flight of its upgraded MQ-9 Block 1-plus Reaper. The Block 1–plus version was designed for increased electrical power, secure communications, automatic landing, increased gross takeoff weight (GTOW), weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities. A new high-capacity starter generator offers increased electrical power capacity to provide growth capacity; a backup generator is also present and is sufficient for all flight-critical functions, improving the electrical power system's reliability via three independent power sources. New communications capabilities, including dual ARC-210 VHF/UHF radios with wingtip antennas, allow for simultaneous communications between multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground parties, secure data links, and an increased data transmission capacity. The new trailing arm main landing gear allows the carriage of heavier payloads or additional fuel. Development and testing were completed, and Milestone C was achieved in September 2012. Follow-on aircraft will be redesignated MQ-9 Block 5. On 15 October 2013, the USAF awarded General Atomics a $377.4 million contract for 24 MQ-9 Block 5 Reapers. The MQ-9 Block 5 flew its first combat mission on 23 June 2017.

Netherlands sign agreement to acquire four US MQ 9 Reaper Block 5 MALE UAVs vuideo link 925 001