The Netherlands

In 2018, the Netherlands purchased four General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drones from the US, which it will receive in 2021. In November 2019, the Dutch parliament demanded the Ministry of Defence to investigate whether the four MQ-9 Reapers should be armed.

The purchase of the first Reapers was planned for 2016 but was postponed due to budgetary considerations. Although the Dutch government officially announced to use the MQ-9 Reaper drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, political parties are divided regarding the procurement and use of armed drones.

It is expected that the Reaper drones will be armed within the near future. In January 2020, State Secretary for Defence Barbara Visser wrote in a letter to parliament that the Ministry of Defence does recognize “the operational benefits of arming the MQ-9 Reaper” and will continue to investigate the possibilities and costs of the armament of the drones, although the armament of the Reapers is “currently not on the agenda.”

Additional developments in the Dutch drone program include conversations held in 2015 between the government and aerospace services company Strat Aero on establishing a UAV Training Center in the Netherlands, which would be the first in Northern Europe.

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In 2015 the Dutch human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira took legal action against the Dutch government on behalf of two Somali nomads who became victims of a drone attack when they were hit by a US missile in January 2014. The victims claim that the Dutch government is also responsible given its intelligences services allegedly shared essential metadata that informed the drone strike. Though this case is still ongoing, it underlines the urgent need for the Dutch government to ensure that shared data is not used for unlawful targeting.

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