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.
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).