Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.,awarded an $8.8 million contract this week to Boeing Insitu Inc. in Bingen, Wash., for one low-rate-initial-production of RQ-21A Blackjack UAV, to include air vehicles, ground control stations, launch and recovery equipment, and air vehicle support equipment.
The Boeing Insitu RQ-21 is a twin-boom, single-engine, monoplane UAV for surveillance and reconnaissance. The Blackjack — so-named last September — is eight feet long with a 16-foot wingspan designed to carry multi-sensor payloads in large pod below its nose. The UAV can fly as fast as 104 miles per hour, cruises at 63 miles per hour, can fly as long as 24 hours, and can fly as high as 19,500 feet.
It is a version of the Insitu Integrator UAV. The multi-mission RQ-21A Blackjack’s open-architecture payload bays can be customized with visible-light and infrared cameras, communications and other tools to give warfighters on the forward edge of battle situational awareness information. The Blackjack’s standard sensor payload consists of a visible-light imager, mid-wave infrared imager, laser rangefinder, infrared marker, communications, and Automatic Identification System (AIS).
The RQ-21A will provide persistent maritime and land-based tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) data collection and dissemination capabilities to the warfighter. For the Navy the Blackjack will provide persistent RSTA information to Navy ships, Marine Corps land forces, Navy expeditionary combat command forces and Navy special warfare units. In the future the U.S. Air Force may use the RQ-21A for persistent RSTA for security forces, integrated base defense, convoy protection, and weather analysis.