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Blackjack UAS gains IOC status, ready for Marine deployment

The Blackjack unmanned aircraft system has gained Initial Operational Capability status and is being deployed by the U.S. Marines.
By Richard Tomkins   |   Jan. 21, 2016 at 3:12 PM
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PATUXENT RIVER, Md., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system by Insitu is ready for deployment and use by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corp.

Initial Operational Capability status was given for the system earlier this month, according to the Marine's Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis.

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"We are 'go for launch,'" added Col. Eldon Metzger, program manager for the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office, whose team oversees the Blackjack program.

"Achieving IOC designation means the fleet can now deploy using this critical piece of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance architecture to enhance mission success."

Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary, delivered the first Blackjack system from low rate initial production lot 3 last month to the Marine's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-2, which supports the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

The Marines will make their first shipboard deployment with this system in the summer.

The Rq-21A is 8.2 feet long, has a cruise speed of 63 miles per hour, and an endurance of 10-12 hours. It weigh about 135 pounds and uses the same launch rail and hook recovery system as the Scan Eagle UAS.

Each Blackjack system is comprised of five air vehicles, two ground control systems, and launch and recovery support equipment, according to the U.S Naval Air Systems Command.

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