General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has announced the completion of the first MQ-9A Block 5 UAV and associated ground control station (GCS) for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, with the aircraft due to be delivered in late-2021.
During a July 7 roll-out ceremony at its corporate headquarters in Poway, California, detailing the programme progress, GA-ASI stated that the MQ-9A will begin acceptance testing later in 2021. The programme will see four MQ-9A Block 5 UAVs and four mobile GCS delivered, along with associated equipment and support in a US$123m Foreign Military Sales awarded to GA-ASI on March 21, 2019.
Linden Blue, GA-ASI CEO, said that the MQ-9 was “ideally suited” to need to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs of the Netherlands, which will join the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Belgium as either current or future operators of the type.
According to the manufacturer the MQ-9A Block 5 has endurance of over 27 hours, speed of 240kt and an operational ceiling of 50,000ft. The type has a 3,850lb (1,746kg) payload capacity that includes 3,000lb of external stores, to provide a persistent surveillance capability with Full-Motion Video and Synthetic Aperture Radar, Moving Target Indicator/Maritime Radar.
In addition, the MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture.