Insitu awarded $71 million Blackjack UAS contract by NAVAIR

June 23, 2016  - By
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Insitu has been awarded a US$71 million follow-on contract to produce six RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial systems (UAS), with options for two more, from U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

The RQ-21A is recovered with the flight recovery apparatus cable aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde after its first flight at sea. The tests were held in the Gulf of Mexico on Feb. 10, 2013.

The RQ-21A is recovered with the flight recovery apparatus cable aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde after its first flight at sea. The tests were held in the Gulf of Mexico on Feb. 10, 2013.

The RQ-21A Blackjack has significantly larger payload mass, volume and power than other small UAS currently being used in theater, according to Insitu, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company. The system includes electro-optic and mid-wave infrared sensors with a laser rangefinder and infrared marker.

The Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot V contract also includes an option year for nine Full Rate Production (FRP) systems. The FRP decision review is expected this fall.

“This contract award paves the road for Blackjack’s continued and future fleet integration,” said Col. Eldon Metzger, program manager for the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office. “It is at the tactical edge for Marine and Navy units and the foundation to support future system enhancements.”

“Blackjack delivers an organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAS that is runway-independent and founded on an open architecture that allows for implementation of innovative payloads to meet critical operational demands,” said Ryan M. Hartman, Insitu’s president and CEO. “We are proud to provide the sailors and marines with reliable, capable systems that support their warfighting needs.”

NAVAIR awarded the STUAS Engineering Manufacturing Development contract to Insitu in 2010 to begin the development of RQ-21A Blackjack, a variant of the company’s Integrator unmanned system. The program achieved Milestone C in 2013, delivered the first LRIP system in 2014, and achieved initial operational capability in January.

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