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Netherlands Doubles Order for Reaper

AEROSPACE: Deal Means More Than $100M for GA-ASI

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. announced on Aug. 21 that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will double the number of MQ-9A remotely piloted aircraft they will procure, taking the total order from four to eight aircraft.

The MQ-9A is also known as the Reaper.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Several published reports put the cost of a Reaper aircraft at $30 million, making the four-aircraft deal worth greater than $100 million.

GA-ASI also provides support for the aircraft, giving the corporation recurring annual revenue.

The first four MQ-9A Block 5 Reapers and associated ground control stations were delivered to the RNLAF in 2022.

“We are doubling the number of MQ-9A Reapers so we can increase our maritime and overland intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance (ISR) capacity,” said Lt. Col. Jan Ruedisueli, commander of the RNLAF’s 306 squadron that operate the new MQ-9A Reapers. “The MQ-9As will receive external pods for electronic intelligence, a communications relay, a maritime radar, and also be armed in the future.”

The delivery of the MQ-9As, their ground control stations, and support equipment is part of a U.S. Air Force foreign military sale to the RNLAF.

“We’re thrilled that the first set of Dutch Reapers have made such a positive impact on the RNLAF,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “With this new set of capabilities, the Netherlands will have the most capable set of MQ-9 Block 5 aircraft in the world. They have customized the Dutch MQ-9As to meet the Netherlands’ expanding mission set.”

MQ-9A Block 5 has endurance of up to 27 hours, is capable of speeds up to 240 knots and can operate up to 40,000 feet. It has a 3,850-pound payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds of external stores. It provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance capability with Full-Motion Video and Synthetic Aperture Radar/Moving Target Indicator/Maritime Radar. MQ-9A Block 5 is equipped with a fault-tolerant flight control system and triple redundant avionics system architecture. It is engineered to meet and exceed manned aircraft reliability standards.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is based in Poway. It is an affiliate of San Diego-based General Atomics. Both are privately held.

GA-ASI to Service UK Aircraft

The U.S. Air Force, acting on behalf of the United Kingdom, awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems a $25.4 million contract for United Kingdom MQ-9 contractor logistics support. This contract provides contractor logistics support for the MQ-9A and ground control station to the Royal Air Force. Specifically, this contract provides for field service representative, repair and return, and technical support tasks. Work will be completed March 31, 2024. This contract was a sole-source acquisition. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio awarded the deal, announced on Aug. 29.

Two Ships Join Fleet

The U.S. Navy announced that the future USS Jack H. Lucas will join the active fleet on Oct. 7, with a commissioning ceremony in Tampa, Florida. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer will then transit to its homeport in San Diego.

The ship will be the Navy’s first Flight III destroyer with notable technological upgrades. The Flight III upgrades are centered on the AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (produced by Raytheon, a business of RTX) and incorporates upgrades to the electrical power and cooling capacity.

Guided-missile destroyers provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. Destroyers can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups and expeditionary strike groups. They are capable of conducting anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and anti-surface warfare (ASuW).

On a related note, the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS  Canberra – also a newcomer to the fleet –  returned to its homeport in San Diego on Aug. 29.

Canberra  departed its homeport of Naval Base San Diego to conduct the first U.S. Navy ceremonial commissioning in Australia on June 13, visiting American Samoa and the Pacific Island Nation of Fiji prior to its arrival in Sydney for commissioning.  Canberra  commissioned at the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Base East in Sydney on July 22.

Canberra  was the first U.S. warship commissioned in an allied country, as well as the first foreign military entity granted Freedom of Entry to a foreign city in Australia.  Granting Freedom of Entry  is an honor bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary.

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