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Netherlands Air Force to Upgrade Reaper Fleet for NATO Missions

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems will upgrade the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s fleet of MQ-9A drones over the next three years to support NATO missions throughout Europe.

The upgrades include capabilities such as maritime radars, a communications relay, extended range fuel tanks, electronic support measures, and weapons.

The purpose-built communication relay will be able to connect the aircraft with all services of the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

“The RNLAF [Royal Netherlands Air Force] is using the MQ-9A for an increasing set of NATO missions,” commander of the RNLAF’s 306 Squadron Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Ruedisueli said.

“With these upgrades, we will support NATO’s ISR and maritime surveillance missions throughout Europe.”

Armed Drones

A fleet of four MQ-9As is currently operational with the Dutch air force, with four more expected to arrive from 2026.

The Dutch defense ministry announced last year that the existing MQ-9As will be modified to carry laser-guided GBU bombs and air-to-surface Hellfire missiles with an estimated cost of 100 to 250 million euros ($107 to 268 million).  

“One of the key aspects of our aircraft is the modularity of our platforms allowing them to rapidly meet the full spectrum of customer requirements,” VP of International Strategic Development at GA-ASI Jaime Walters said.

MQ-9A Features

Powered by a single Honeywell TPE331-10GD turboprop engine, the MQ-9A has a payload capacity of 3,850 pounds (1,746 kilograms), including 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of external storage.

It features a cruise speed of 370 kilometers (230 miles) per hour, a range of 1,852 kilometers (1,151 miles), a service ceiling of 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), and an endurance of 27 hours.

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