The Netherlands has launched the process to acquire a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system (UAS) capability later this decade, with its defence ministry seeking information from potential suppliers.

With an operational system planned to enter use in the 2015-2016 financial year, the Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has invited companies to respond to a request for information.

Potential bidders have until 1 April to respond to the RFI, with answers to subsequent questions from the defence ministry to be returned no later than 6 July, according to details published by the European Defence Agency's contracts service. "The formal procedure for procurement will be determined by the DMO later on," it added.

The Netherlands previously had a deal with Qinetiq to deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services in Afghanistan using leased Aeronautics Defense Systems Aerostar tactical UAS. The agreement was terminated in mid-2010 as the Dutch armed forces prepared to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan.

Despite the Dutch military being restricted by a package of ongoing equipment cuts, the MALE UAS requirement was included in long-term spending plans in April 2011, with a planned budget of €100 million ($134 million).

Source: Flight International