The Royal Netherlands Air Force has secured the skies by equipping Arsenal with Hellfire AGM-114R2 missiles for Apaches and Reapers.

Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64E Apache attack helicopters
Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64E Apache attack helicopters

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the Netherlands of Hellfire Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $150 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested to buy up to three hundred eighty-six (386) Hellfire Air-to-Ground Missiles, AGM-114R2. Also included is U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD) technical assistance; Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions (TAGM) Project Office technical assistance; non-standard books, publications, and other Hellfire publications; integration support; and other related elements of logistics and program support.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe. The proposed sale will improve the Netherlands’ capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. This will contribute to its military goals of updating capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies. The Netherlands will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
Royal Netherlands Air Force General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle. (Photo by Dutch Ministry of Defense)

The Dutch Armed Forces intend to acquire a new batch of Hellfire missiles for their Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and General Atomics Aeronautical System MQ-9A Reaper drones. The Dutch government initially showed an interest in acquiring Apache helicopters in the late 1980s, led to the Royal Netherlands Air Force ordering 30 AH-64D Apaches in 1995. In November 2021, the process to upgrade AH-64Ds began and RNLAF is to receive the upgraded AH-64Es between 2023 and 2025. The RNLAF bought four ground stations (two at Homebase, two at forward operating base) and four MQ-9s Block-V. The aircraft are to reach full operational status in 2023. Four more systems are planned. The decision was also made to arm the Reapers.

The AGM-114 Hellfire is an American air-to-surface missile (ASM) first developed for anti-armor use, later developed for precision drone strikes against other target types, especially high-value targets. It was originally developed under the name “Heliborne laser, fire-and-forget missile”, which led to the colloquial name “Hellfire” ultimately becoming the missile’s formal name. It has a multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike ability and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms, including the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. The AGM-114R2, the new semi-active laser/inertial navigation guided version of the famous missile, has a range from 0.5 km to 8 km, and it is armed with a 12.5 kg high explosive semi-armor piercing, blast, fragmentation, tandem hollow charge warhead.

Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64E Apache attack helicopters
Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. (Photo by Dutch Ministry of Defense)

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