The Netherlands will acquire the MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under the US Foreign Military Sales program, Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert informed parliament in writing today. Four UAVs and a ground station will be bought off the shelf, with the initial operational capability planned for the end of 2016 and the full operational capability at the end of 2017.
The UAVs will be used to gather information in support of higher command levels than the tactical level currently covered by Dutch Raven and Scan Eagle UAVs. In addition to military operations, Reaper will support civilian authorities in such tasks as disaster response and counternarcotics. The Dutch Reapers will be unarmed and Hennis-Plasschaert promised to inform parliament if it decided to arm them in the future.
The Dutch Ministry of Defense has had a MALE UAV requirement since 2011. The ministry said Reaper was the only system which met its requirements in terms of endurance, speed and accuracy. The UAV can conduct missions exceeding 24 hours and the data it collects is transmitted in near-real time.