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Netherlands to buy 4 additional MQ-9C Block 5 Reaper UAVs.

| 2023

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency on June 16 announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the Netherlands of MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $611 million.

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Netherlands to buy 4 additional MQ 9C Block 5 Reaper UAVs General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (Picture source: Wikipedia/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt )

The Government of the Netherlands has requested to buy up to four (4) General Atomics MQ-9A Block 5 aircraft; up to three (3) UAV MQ-9 Mobile Ground Control Systems (MGCS); up to thirty (30) Embedded Global Positioning Systems/Internal Navigation Systems (EGI) devices, Airborne, with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) or M-Code; up to eight (8) AN/DAS-4 Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems; and up to twenty (20) Lynx AN/APY-8 Synthetic Aperture Radars. Also included are Reaper Engines; Selex Seaspray Synthetic Aperture Radars; SeaVue Maritime Radars; M299 Hellfire Longbow missile launchers; AN/ARC-210 radios; Line-of-Site (LOS) Ground Data Terminals; Ruggedized Aircraft Maintenance Test Stations (RAMTS); AN/APX-119 and other Identification Friend or Foe transponders; KIV-77 Cryptographic Appliques; KY-100M narrowband/wideband terminals; AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loaders; satellite communications earth terminal subsystems (SETSS); spare parts, consumables, and accessories and repair and return support; secure communication equipment and cryptographic devices; major/minor modifications, maintenance, and maintenance support; munitions support and support equipment; unclassified software delivery and support; transportation support; unclassified publications and technical documentation; studies and surveys; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistic and program support. The estimated total cost is $611 million.

The MQ-9A aircraft will support Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions as well as Air Attack and Counter Maritime Operation tasks. The Netherlands already has MQ-9A aircraft in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.

The principal contractor will be General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Poway, CA. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of additional contractor or government representatives.

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. In 2006, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley said: "We've moved from using UAVs primarily in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles before Operation Iraqi Freedom, to a true hunter-killer role with the Reaper."

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). The greater power allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at about three times the speed of the MQ-1. The aircraft is monitored and controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS), including weapons employment.

Several MQ-9 aircraft have been retrofitted with equipment upgrades to improve performance in "high-end combat situations", and all new MQ-9s have those upgrades. 2035 is the projected end of the service life of the MQ-9 fleet. The average unit cost of an MQ-9 is estimated at $30 million in 2021 dollars.

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