The first General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9A Reaper for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been officially acquired from the manufacturer.
In association with the US Air Force, the Dutch Ministry of Defence formally confirmed that it met requirements on February 2 after completing a series of acceptance flights. Further acceptance flights for the remaining three Reapers on order were planned for the following week. The acceptance flights are being carried out from GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, California.
Subject to these flights being successfully completed, all four Reapers will shortly be deployed to Hato Airport on the island of Curaçao in the Lesser Antilles. They will initially undergo an operational test and evaluation programme from Hato. Thereafter, the Reapers will undertake support tasks for the Commander of the Caribbean Sea Forces and the Caribbean Coast Guard. For the time being, they will be operated in an unarmed configuration.
The four MQ-9A Block 5s were ordered for the RNLAF under a Foreign Military Sales contract awarded to GA-ASI on March 21, 2019. The first one was formally unveiled during a roll-out ceremony on July 7, 2021, at GA-ASI’s headquarters in Poway, California. The first two are serial numbers M-001 and M-002. They will be operated by 306 Squadron.