General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) flew a company-owned, MQ-9B SeaGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) today from RAF Waddington across the North Sea to Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands.
The RNLAF has ordered four MQ-9A RPA and the first is expected to be delivered to Leeuwarden later this year. The flight, which was organized in cooperation with UK and Netherlands airspace authorities, the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), completed a two-day series of flights between the two airspaces. The SeaGuardian, which is the maritime version of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, returned to RAF Waddington at the conclusion of the event.
The flight to Leeuwarden was conducted as Operational Air Traffic, under the control of UK military air traffic controllers at Swanwick, up to the boundary between the UK’s and the Netherlands’ controlled airspace. At the agreed crossing point, Dutch military air traffic controllers took responsibility for the flight.
The flight is part of a maritime demonstration series that began in August and continues through September. The flight series will showcase the many operational capabilities of the MQ-9B, including the platform’s advanced maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Detect and Avoid System (DAAS), endurance, and interoperability with NATO partners.
“Today’s flight is a major milestone for us. It demonstrates the ability of the MQ-9 to operate in our airspace and validates the procedures for air traffic control. It also familiarizes the air traffic controllers with Remotely Piloted Aircraft, which is an opportunity we have not had before,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Boudewijn Roddenhof, commander of the RNLAF’s 306 squadron, which will operate the new MQ-9A Reapers.
“We’re thrilled to showcase the game-changing capabilities of our RPA for the Royal Netherlands Air Force,” said Robert Schoeffling, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI. “We appreciate the international cooperation we’ve received from the RAF, the RNLAF and civil aviation authorities such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Our MQ-9B series is built and equipped to meet certification standards that will allow it to fly in non-segregated airspace.”
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