July 17, 2018 / 6:56 PM / in 3 months

General Atomics to provide drones to the Netherlands air force

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc said on Tuesday it had been selected by the Dutch Ministry of Defence to provide unmanned aircraft to the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

FILE PHOTO: A French soldier of the regional anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane stands in front of a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone version Block 1 in Niamey, Niger, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

The maker of the U.S. military’s Predator drones said it would offer a Predator B variant of the remotely piloted aircraft, called MQ-9 Reaper.

The deal for the drones was first approved as a Foreign Military Sale by the U.S. State Department in 2015, when it was valued at $339 million. No value was disclosed on Tuesday.

The Dutch government said the intent to purchase was announced in 2016 as part of the Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle programme. Sources had told Reuters on Friday the deal would be signed.

The multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance unmanned aircraft that can be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as well as targeting missions.

The aircraft has a payload capacity of about 1,747 kilograms with a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet, or 13700 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 26 hours, General Atomics said.

Other countries operating Predator drones include France, Italy, Britain and United Arab Emirates.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Farnborough; Additional reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair

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