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Insitu to provide RA-21 Blackjack UAVs to the Marine Corps and Poland

By
Stephen Carlson
A Marine Corps RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle is launched from its catapult. Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Huff/U.S. Marine Corps
A Marine Corps RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle is launched from its catapult. Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Huff/U.S. Marine Corps

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Insitu was awarded a $54 million contract for Lot II RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft systems for the U.S. Marine Corps and Poland.

The contract covers eight air vehicles, seven for the U.S. Marine Corps and one for Poland. It also includes the procurement of ground control stations, launch and recovery equipment, shipboard equipment kits, engineering and program management.

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Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash., and Hood River, Ore., and is expected to be completed by June 2019. Marine Corps fiscal 2018 procurement, overseas contingency operations and Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $54 million will be obligated at the time of award.

The RQ-21A Blackjack is a intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aerial system used that the Marine Corps and Navy use. It uses a catapult for launch and a hook-and-line system for recovery, obviating the need for a runway and letting it be deployed from both land and ships.

Each system is composed of five aircraft, two ground command units and a launch and recovery system. The Blackjack can carry several kinds of mission payloads, including surveillance video, communications relays and target designation gear such as lasers.

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It has a range of more than 30 miles and can stay in the air for up to 16 hours depending on the mission. The Marine Corps first deployed it in 2016. It is being exported to allied nations like Poland.

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