FARNBOROUGH, England, July 17, 2018 — The Netherlands on Tuesday inked a deal to purchase four MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 drones from General Atomics, marking the first sale of unmanned aerial systems since U.S. President Donald Trump signed off on a policy to loosen up arms sale restrictions.
During a ceremony at the Farnborough Airshow, Vice Adm. Jan de Waard, the director of the Netherlands' Defence Materiel Organisation, and Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, head of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, signed a letter of offer and acceptance. Such a letter cements a foreign military sale between the United States and a foreign nation.
The sale of MQ-9s to the Netherlands has been in the works for a long time.
“It’s a party time today,” de Waard said. “We started this program in 2003. We postponed it in 2005, then we revitalized it in, I think, in 2010, and then we postponed it again.”
The U.S. State Department first approved the Netherlands for a potential MQ-9 sale in 2015, when it valued the order at about $339 million for four air vehicles, six Honeywell TPE331-10T turboprop engines, ground stations, Lynx radars, and a variety of other subsystems and spares. The deal is for the unarmed configuration of the Reaper.
Hooper said the Dutch MQ-9s would “not only accentuate their own domestic national security capabilities but will add to their capability to contribute to NATO as a part of that alliance and coalition.”
The announcement of the deal with the Dutch comes just a day after Trump approved an implementation plan for his new export reform policy, called the Conventional Arms Transfer policy. U.S. government agencies been awaiting guidance about how to interpret new arms transfer rules.