Blackjack! Devils picking up $390M worth of extra drones
The RQ-21A Blackjack, made by Boeing/Insitu is the Navy & Marine Corps’ Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) program of record, currently flown by Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 and 2 (VMU-1 and VMU-2) supporting expeditionary operations worldwide. With a line-of-sight range of 55 miles, Blackjack has a 16+ hour endurance and is classified as a Group 3 (large) UAV.
Unarmed, the RQ-21A is an ISR platform with a max weight of about 130-pounds and a 16-foot wingspan and can launch and be recovered from a helicopter pad-sized area (or smaller).
Interestingly, the contract announced last week includes not only 63 more Blackjacks but 93 50-pound ScanEagle drones as well. Notably, ScanEagle has been used from vessels as small as 84-foot Mark VI patrol boats.
From DoD contracts:
Insitu Inc., Bingen, Washington, is awarded a $390,390,785 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for up to 63 RQ-21A attrition air vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. In addition, this contract provides for up to six RQ-21A unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and up to 17 RQ-21A air vehicles for foreign military sales (FMS) customers, including the governments of Canada, Poland, and Oman. The contractor will also provide up to 93 ScanEagle UASs in various configurations. In addition, this contract provides for associated services, including training, test, and engineering, development of engineering change proposals, operations support, organizational level maintenance, field service representatives, land and ship surveys, hardware site activations, hardware installs, repairs and data. Work will be performed in Bingen, Washington (83%) and various locations inside the continental United States (CONUS) (5%) and outside CONUS (12%), and is expected to be completed in June 2022. Fiscal 2019 operation and maintenance (Navy), fiscal 2019 building partnership capacity, and FMS funds in the amount of $9,919,160 will be obligated at time of award, $9,519,160 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-19-D-0033).