Earlier in 2014, Insitu announced the delivery of an RQ-21A BLACKJACK to the US Navy (USN) and USMC. This represents the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) system delivered under the USN’s Small Tactical UAS (STUAS) contract and enables the programme to enter into the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase.
|Insitu RQ-21A BLACKJACK (Photo: US Navy)|
“This milestone represents the start of another chapter for the BLACKJACK programme,” said Ryan Hartman, Senior Vice President, Insitu Programmes. “We look forward to entering into IOT&E and receiving operational feedback from the BLACKJACK end users.”
|US Navy and USMC team recover a RQ-21A BLACKJACK during acceptance testing in early December 2013 at a range in Boardman, OR/USA. (Photo: Insitu)|
Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded the STUAS contract to Insitu in 2010 to begin the development of RQ-21A BLACKJACK, a variant of the company’s INTEGRATOR unmanned system. Since that time, the programme has progressed at a fast pace, delivering early operational capability to the USMC at their Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms in 2011. Land-based developmental testing and operational assessment was completed in 2012 and the first maritime flight took place in early 2013. In May 2013, the BLACKJACK programme reached Milestone C, allowing it to transition from the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase to the LRIP phase.
This programme of record for the USN and USMC is the first organic and dedicated multi-intelligence UAS for USMC and USN tactical commanders. The system is modular, flexible and multi-mission capable, providing roll-on, roll-off transitions between land and maritime environments. RQ-21A BLACKJACK's open architecture payload bays can be customised with imagers, communication capabilities and other tools to deliver exceptional situational awareness.