> our title:

Dutch AF Crews Training to Operate Reaper UAVs in Arizona

> original title:

Holloman AFB: Training Basis for the MQ-9

(Source: Royal Netherlands air Force; issued March 24, 2019)

One of the four General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft ordered by the Dutch Air Force at Holloman air force base, in New Mexico, where Dutch crews are now training to operate the aircraft. (RNLAF photo)

In addition to the F-35, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is in the process of introducing yet another new weapon system: the MQ-9 Reaper. Four MQ-9A Block 5 devices have been ordered that will be delivered from the fourth quarter of this year.

They are the first unmanned aircraft in the history of the RNLAF, which is taking a whole new path. The first four aviators are now training at Holloman AFB in [New Mexico]: two pilots and two sensor operators.

The word 'unmanned' actually gives the wrong impression, as if the aircraft was controlled by robots and people no longer play a role in this. But nothing could be less true.

The MQ-9 is controlled by a pilot, while a sensor operator controls the observation systems. They sit next to each other in a 'Mission Control Element' that has a satellite connection with the Reaper in the area of operations, which can be thousands of miles away.

Because of this large distance, the signal takes a while to reach the aircraft, and that delay is just too long to be able to safely control the aircraft at take-off and landing. That is why a 'Launch and Recovery Element' is placed in the operations area that takes over these crucial phases of the flight.