The Dutch defence ministry is buying four unmanned aircraft from an American company at a cost of up to €250m.
The MQ-9 Reaper drones are being bought ‘off the shelf’ and must be fully operational by the end of 2017, defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told parliament in a statement on Thursday.
The drones can also carry weapons but the Netherlands does not need that capacity at present, a ministry spokesman told Nos television later. ‘That is not the intention but it can change in the future,’ the broadcaster quoted the spokesman as saying.
The US uses the MQ-9 Reaper in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Netherlands will use it in areas where Dutch troops are operating. The ground equipment and four aircraft will cost between €100m and €250m but the price is being kept secret out of commercial considerations, Nos said.
The Netherlands already has smaller drones and the defence ministry said in 2011 it planned to buy larger ones. In the Netherlands itself they have been used for some time to spot marijuana plantations.
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