Royal Thai Navy receives first RQ-21A Blackjack UAV from the US

The US Navy formally handed over the first Boeing Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to the Royal Thai Navy during a ceremony at an undisclosed location in Thailand on May 24.

The ceremony was presided over by Vice Adm Karl Thomas, commander of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, and marked the first of five RQ-21As to be delivered to the Royal Thai Navy. The acquisition was funded by the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) and includes two ground control stations, launch and recovery equipment (LRE) and in-residence training in the US, on top of the five Blackjack air vehicles. Technical advisors are supporting the Royal Thai Navy in operating and maintaining its RQ-21A fleet.

Handover of first RQ-21A to Royal Thai Navy 24-05-22 [US State Department via US Embassy & Consulate in Thailand]
The Royal Thai Navy received its first RQ-21A Blackjack UAS during a handover ceremony in Thailand on May 24, 2022. In total, the service will receive five examples of the platform from the US Navy. US State Department via US Embassy & Consulate in Thailand

In Thai service, the five RQ-21As will help to enhance Thailand’s maritime security capabilities. The platform will be primarily used in support of search and rescue (SAR) operations, as well as drug/human trafficking interdiction missions.

Boeing Insitu’s RQ-21A Blackjack UAS is a small, unarmed platform that has been designed to carry out maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations. In terms of performance, the UAS has a range of 50nm (92.6km), can reach speeds of 90kts (170km/h) and boasts a 16-hour endurance, with a service ceiling of 19,500ft (5,900m).