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Netherlands upgrades MQ-9A Reaper fleet

2nd April 2024 - 11:42 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The Dutch military placed a US$123 million order for the first batch of MQ-9A Reapers in 2018. (Photo: GA-ASI)

The improvements the Dutch MQ-9A Reapers will receive will include maritime radars, extended-range fuel tanks and weapons.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has announced it will upgrade the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) growing fleet of MQ-9A Reaper UAVs with various new systems.

In 2023, the Netherlands revealed that it would double its Reaper fleet from four to eight, and now the partners will make improvements to the aircraft as well. The upgrades will include maritime radars, a communications relay, extended-range fuel tanks, electronic support measure (ESM) and weapons. The works will be carried out incrementally over the next three years.

“The RNLAF is using the MQ-9A for an increasing set of NATO missions,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jan Ruedisueli, commander of the RNLAF’s 306 Squadron. “With these upgrades, we will support NATO’s ISR and maritime surveillance missions throughout Europe.”

GA-ASI will be responsible for integrating the new payloads to the Dutch MQ-9As.

Following a cancelled MALE UAV project in 2007, the Dutch MoD revealed its intention to acquire four MQ-9A Reapers from GA-ASI in 2013, choosing the drone over the Heron TP from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The Dutch military placed a US$123 million order in 2018, with deliveries scheduled for 2021. This delivery date was not met, with the drones instead being delivered to RNLAF throughout 2022, with the first drone arriving in the Netherlands, after previously being based in the Caribbean, in 2023. In January 2024, the Netherlands announced that it would be deployed to Romania to help bolster NATO’s eastern flank.

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