Dutch MQ-9 Reaper drones begin intelligence operations on NATO’s eastern flank

By Defence Industry Europe

The Netherlands concluded operational testing of three MQ-9 Reaper drones stationed in Romania. This move, which took place from February 28 to March 5, 2024, marks the Netherlands' strategic contribution to gathering crucial intelligence information.

 

The drones, operated by around 40 Dutch Air Force personnel from a military base in Luna, Romania, are part of the preparation for NATO’s operation “Guardian Reaper.” The aircraft, controlled remotely from Leeuwarden Air Base over 2200 kilometers away, embarked on their first flights above Romania and the Black Sea. This remote operation is facilitated through specially equipped sea containers at Leeuwarden, serving as distant cockpits, highlighting the technological prowess in modern warfare.

 

 

Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jan ‘Muezli’ Ruedisueli of 306 Squadron, the operation’s focus lies in monitoring the movements of Russian and Ukrainian troops and naval ships, along with critical civilian and military infrastructures such as radar stations, missile launch sites, and airfields. The intelligence gathered plays a pivotal role in NATO’s defensive strategies along its border regions.

 

Defence

 

The MQ-9 Reapers, flying in designated corridors, are instrumental in relaying comprehensive situational reports back to the intelligence section of 306 Squadron. This information is then processed and shared with NATO under the principle of essential awareness, in collaboration with the Defence Operations Directorate (DOPS) and the National Air and Space Operations Center of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

 

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