State Secretary for Defence Barbara Visser says that four MQ-9 Reaper drones at the Leeuwarden air base will create 151 new jobs in 2020.
Translation by Traci White
The Leeuwarder Courant reports that the ministry of defence intends to sign a contract with the American government this summer to buy four MQ-Reaper drones, also referred to as Predator B drones, for 179 million euros.
If the purchase goes through, it will still take two years before the drones are operational. The drones should reportedly create 130 new air force positions in a special squadron – the 306 squadron – and 21 maintenance jobs at the base in 2020. The air force personnel will be trained to pilot the drones at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The drones, which have a wing span of 20 meters, will not be weaponised when they are purchased. The Dutch parliament would have to grant special permission for the drones to have weapons capacity. The Reapers would eventually be piloted via satellite from the Leeuwarden base on missions up to thousands of kilometres away.
The operating costs for the drones are projected to be 25 million euros a year, and if the drones are used on international missions, that would reportedly cost 20 to 60 million euros per mission.
Visser says that the drones are necessary for intelligence gathering during military missions, as well as domestic and international humanitarian missions. Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and France all have aircraft similar to the Reaper MQ-9, and other European countries are planning to follow suit.
Photo source: Wikipedia