Netherlands to Turn Reconnaissance MQ-9 Reapers Into Armed Drones
The Netherlands will begin arming its reconnaissance MQ-9 Reaper drones due to evolving security concerns.
The four Dutch MQ-9s will be modified to carry laser-guided GBU bombs and air-to-surface Hellfire missiles.
The Netherlands army is already familiar with most of the weapons to be deployed on the drones as they are used with the country’s F-35 fighter jets.
The modification and weapons procurement is expected to cost between 100 and 250 million euros ($107 to 268 million).
Initial Deployment by 2025
Initial deployment of the armed drones is expected by 2025, and full deployment three years later.
The new MQ-9s the country expects to receive in 2026 will be weapons-capable without any modifications.
The drones will be able to operate in previously inaccessible areas to enhance soldier protection.
The armed drones will not be autonomous but under the full control of a ground crew.