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GA-ASI sets out Reaper upgrade plan for Netherlands

One of four Reaper UAVs now operated by the RNLAF. As well as doubling its fleet to eight, the Netherlands plans to upgrade its Reapers with a raft of enhanced capabilities. (Royal Netherlands Air Force)

The Netherlands is to equip its General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with a raft of enhancements over the next three years, the manufacturer said on 27 March.

Following previously disclosed plans by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) to double its fleet size from four to eight air vehicles, GA-ASI spelled out some of the capability upgrades that the service intends to add.

“Upgrades to their aircraft [will] include capabilities such as maritime radars, a communications relay, extended range fuel tanks, electronic support measures (ESM), and weapons,” the manufacturer said.

As noted by Lieutenant Colonel Jan Ruedisueli, the commander of the RNLAF's 306 Squadron that operates the type, the Netherlands plans to use its Reapers across an increasing range of mission sets for its national and NATO needs. “With these upgrades, we will support NATO's ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and maritime surveillance missions throughout Europe,” he was quoted as saying by GA-ASI.

Powered by a single Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine, the Reaper has a maximum take-off weight of 4,760 kg, a payload of 1,701 kg, a cruise speed of 200 kt, a range of 1,000 n miles, a service ceiling of 50,000 ft, and an endurance of 27 hours. It carries an electro-optic/infrared sensor turret for ISR duties.

For more information on the RNLAF, please see Netherlands – Air Force .

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