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My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

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The Netherlands To Upgrade Their MQ-9A Capabilities

San Diego March 26, 2024 Photo(s): By GA-ASI
MQ-9A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is working with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to make important upgrades to their growing fleet of MQ-9A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). The RNLAF announced in 2023 that they will double their number of MQ-9A Reapers from four to eight and now are making upgrades to their aircraft to include capabilities such as maritime radars, a communications relay, extended range fuel tanks, electronic support measures (ESM), and weapons. The upgrades will take place incrementally over the next three years.

"The RNLAF is using the MQ-9A for an increasing set of NATO missions," said Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Ruedisueli, commander of the RNLAF's 306 Squadron. "With these upgrades, we will support NATO's ISR and maritime surveillance missions throughout Europe."

GA-ASI will integrate the new payloads for the RNLAF, including a maritime radar currently operating in other areas of the world, ESM, weapons, and a communications relay that is purpose-built to connect all services of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence.

"We're excited to continue upgrading and increasing the mission capabilities of the RNLAF's fleet of Reapers," said Jaime Walters, vice president of International Strategic Development at GA-ASI. "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."

The MQ-9A Block 5 has a 3,850-pound (1,746-kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of external stores. It provides a long-endurance, surveillance capability with full-motion video, Synthetic Aperture Radar/Moving Target Indicator/Maritime Radar, and ESM. An extremely reliable aircraft, MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and a triple-redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.