Blackjack and ScanEagle production ceiling increased

The US Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Insitu a contract modification that increases the ceiling to provide additional air vehicles, support equipment and spares for the RQ-21A Blackjack and ScanEagle unmanned systems.

An announcement by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on June 17 revealed the US$12.5m contract modification will support deliveries to the US Navy and unnamed Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work is expected to be completed by 2022.

The RQ-21A Blackjack is operated by the US Navy and US Marine Corps, in addition to Poland, the UAE, Oman and Canada. US DoD

The RQ-21A Blackjack is a military version of Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aerial system (UAS) and has been exported to a number of operators, including Canada, Poland, Oman and the UAE.

A 2019 announcement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated that the US State Department had approved a request by the UAE for 20 RQ-21A Blackjack UAS, along with associated equipment, in a US$80m deal.

In July the same year the US DoD stated that Insitu had been awarded a US$390.3m deal to provide RQ-21A systems to the US Navy, US Marine Corp, Canada, Poland and Oman. In total, 63 Blackjack’s were to be provided to US customers, with a further 17 split between the three FMS customers.

Insitu would also supply 93 ScanEagle UAVs in various configuration, the US DoD contract note stated.

Parent company Boeing states that Insitu’s RQ-21A Blackjack can carry a payload of up to 17kg, has an endurance of more than 16 hours, and features an EO/IR capability to provide real-time monitoring.

The ScanEagle UAS has been in service with the US Navy and US Marine Corps since 2005, with more than 6,000 shipboard flights conducted, amounting to over 48,000 shipboard flight hours. The type has also been widely exported and is in service in more than 20 countries around the world.