US Navy orders more UAS from Insitu

A RQ-21A Blackjack recovers after it was launched for the first time into Class D airspace over MCAS Cherry Point on March 21, 2016. Photo: US Navy

January 10, 2017 – The U.S. Navy has awarded Insitu a $70.8 million contract modification under which it is procuring six Blackjack unmanned aircraft systems.

Three of the full rate production Lot I RQ-21A UAS will go to the navy and the other three to the marines.

The UAS consists of air vehicles, ground control stations, multi-mission (plug and play) payloads, launch and recovery equipment, and systems engineering and program management.

At 61 kg, the RQ-21A Blackjack system is a larger twin-tailed follow-on to the ScanEagle; modular and multi-mission capable, providing roll-on, roll-off transitions between land and maritime environments.

Insitu was awarded the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) contract in 2010 to begin development of RQ-21A Blackjack. Other competitors were Raytheon’s Killer Bee, AAI’s Aerosonde, and the General Dynamics/Elbit Systems Storm.

The program began Low Rate Initial Production in 2013 and in 2014 Blackjack deployed in an Early Operational Capability capacity for the Marine Corps.

In June 2016, Insitu received a contract to produce the first six RQ-21A Blackjack UAS.

Work under the latest contract will be performed in Bingen, Washington and Hood River, Oregon, and is expected to be completed in February 2018.