U.S. Navy officials are buying six new RQ-21A Blackjack small tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide surveillance capability for U.S. Marine Corps and Navy tactical commanders. Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $71.6 million contract to Boeing Insitu Inc. in Bingen, Wash., for six low-rate initial production lot-5 Blackjack unmanned aircraft systems, which include air vehicles, ground control stations, launch and recovery equipment, and spare parts. The Boeing Insitu RQ-21 is a twin-boom, single-engine, monoplane UAV for surveillance and reconnaissance. It can be launched and recovered on land or at sea without runways, using a pneumatic launcher and net-type recovery system. The 81-pound Blackjack is eight feet long with a 16-foot wingspan designed to carry multi-sensor payloads in a large pod below its nose. The UAV can fly as quickly as 104 miles per hour, cruises at 63 miles per hour, and can fly as long as 24 hours and as high as 19,500 feet. It is a version of the Insitu Integrator UAV. The multimission 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. It can integrate new payloads quickly, offers roll-on, roll-off capability to move the system quickly from ship to shore, and aboard cargo aircraft. The UAV can carry sensor payloads as heavy as 39 pounds.
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