The first MQ-9A Reaper drones have arrived at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Leeuwarden base. Four more drones are in the queue.
In 2013, the Dutch Ministry of Defence announced that it wanted to purchase four MQ-9A Reaper drones from General Atomics. The main competitor was the Heron TP manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The contract was signed in 2018. The agreement was worth $123 million, meaning one drone is valued at about $30 million on average. Deliveries were scheduled for 2021, but had to be postponed.
In July 2021, General Atomics built the first drone and sent it to the Caribbean for testing. There are now three more MQ-9A Reaper drones at Hato airport on the island of Curaçao, but they too will soon fly to the Leeuwarden base.
For now, the Dutch UAVs are not carrying any weapons. However, in the future they will receive AGM-114 Hellfire II missiles and GBU-12 bombs. The Netherlands decided to arm the drones after Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Deliveries are scheduled for 2026. In addition, this year the US State Department approved the potential sale of four more Block 5 level drones for $611 million.
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