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First flight for two Dutch MQ-9 Reaper crews


The first two MQ-9 Reaper crews of the Royal Netherlands Air Force have flown this unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The flights took place on January 16 in the United States.


First flight for two Dutch MQ 9 Reaper crews MQ-9 Reaper (Picture source : GA-ASI)


The 306 Squadron of Leeuwarden Air Base will fly its own MQ-9 Reaper UAVs from 2020 onwards. The Netherlands has ordered four unmanned aircraft. Training of the Dutch airmen as pilots and sensor operators is taking place at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico since December 2017. These crews will graduate in May.

The MQ-9 Reaper (previously Predator B) is a medium-to-high altitude, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft system. (UAS), capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). A Reaper crew consists of a pilot and a sensor operator who work from a Ground Control Station.

The MQ-9 Reaper Predator B is a larger and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator, and it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The MQ-9's primary mission is as a persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets in support of joint force commander objectives. The MQ-9's secondary mission is to act as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset, employing sensors to provide real-time data to commanders and intelligence specialists at all levels.

The MQ-9 Predator B Reaper can also be used as an armed multi-mission UAV, launching AGM-114C/K Hellfire missiles and other guided weapons. In total, the aircraft can carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles, compared with two carried on the MQ-1 Predator. Trading off some of the missiles, Predator B can carry laser guided bombs, such as the GBU-12. MQ-9 is equipped with both Lynx II SAR and the MTS-B 20" gimbal, an improved, extended range version of the MQ-9's EO payload.