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Dutch Air Force receives SATCOM terminals ahead of first MQ-9 Reaper arrival

SETTS Satcom earth terminal subsystems
Photo: Dutch defense ministry

The Royal Netherlands Air Force has received Satcom earth terminal subsystems (SETSS), which will be essential for the operation of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as they start arriving from the US later this year.

The SETSS, which arrived at the Antwerp port on January 13, link ground control stations with UAS during ground taxi, and launch and recovery for training operation.

Netherlands ordered four MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 UAS from the US in July 2018. The US State Department previously approved the sale in 2015, in a deal that had an estimated value of $339 million. The signed deal also included four ground stations.

The country initially expected the aircraft to start arriving in the summer of 2020, but the Dutch defense procurement agency says the first UAS is now expected to be delivered before the end of this year. Dutch MQ-9s will be based at the Leeuwarden Air Base and will be operated by the reactivated 306 Squadron.

The multi-mission MQ-9 Reaper medium altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAS has up to 26 hours of flight endurance and carries HD-video sensors (optical and IR), ground-imaging/MTI/maritime radar, and other surveillance sensors. The aircraft features an extensive payload capacity (386 kg internally, 1361 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet/13,700 meters.

MQ-9 Reaper UAS US Navy
US Air Force file photo of an MQ-9 Reaper UAS