The Royal Netherlands Air Force has taken delivery of its first MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system (UAS), following a series of acceptance flights.
The first of overall four systems was jointly inspected by US and Dutch officials before it was handed over on February 2. The other Reapers are also set to undergo acceptance flights next week.
Once the process is completed, the Netherlands will base the UAS in the Dutch overseas territory of Curaçao. The defense ministry previously said that stationing the systems there would be less of an organizational challenge than in the Netherlands, due to the abundance of airspace. The operational test and evaluation program will be completed from Hato Airport.
Following the trials phase, the Reapers will support the Commander of the Caribbean Sea Forces and the Caribbean Coast Guard.
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 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.