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Netherlands to locate Reapers in Caribbean

The Netherlands will base its soon-to-be received General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc MQ-9A Reaper medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Caribbean region.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 6 January that, with the first of four Block 5-standard Reapers set to be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) in February, the platform is to be located on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao for testing and civil-support operations, including in the field of counter-narcotics. As previously reported, the Netherlands will not arm its Reapers.

“The aircraft and two ground stations are stationed at Hato airport [on Curaçao]. The two other ground stations are located at Leeuwarden Air Base [in the Netherlands]. The images from the Caribbean are also analysed here. The MQ-9 will eventually also have Leeuwarden as its home base,” the MoD said.

The first Reaper was officially handed over to the Dutch MoD in the United States in July 2021, some six-and-a-half years after the US State Department cleared the sale of four Reaper UAVs and four ground control stations to the Netherlands in February 2015. Along with the equipment, the approval also covered training and a three-year (3,400 flight hours) support package. The total value of the sale was estimated to be USD339 million.

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