"This milestone allows us to provide our warfighter with a unique capability -- an organic UAS capable of operations from both land and sea," said U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Rector, PMA-263 program manager. "The RQ-21A will provide persistent maritime and land-based tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition data collection and dissemination capabilities."
The Navy awarded Insitu, Inc., an engineering manufacturing development contract for STUAS in 2010.
The U.S. Marines are flying an Early Operational Capability system at Twenty Nine Palms, Calif. for pre-deployment preparation.
The aircraft is based on Insitu's Scan Eagle UAS, which has flown more than 245,000 hours in support of Navy and Marine Corps forward deployed forces via a services contract.
The RQ-21A system can carry a 25-pound payload and comes with a ground control system, catapult launcher and the "Skyhook" recovery system, which doesn't require a runway.
Other features include day/night full-motion video cameras and infrared marker and laser range finder.
The Department of the Navy plans to acquire 36 STUAS systems, each with five aircraft.