The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263) delivered the final RQ-21A Blackjack system to the Marines at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, June 12.
The final system will be used as a training asset for the Fleet Readiness Detachment (FRD) at MCAS Cherry Point. VMU-2, also located at MCAS Cherry Point, will maintain the system.
Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3, located in Hawaii, received their fourth and final system in March completing the squadron deliveries. This closes out the Marine Corps’ total order of 21 Blackjack UAS.
“As we wrap up the production phase of the RQ-21A program for the Marine Corps and Navy, we have also been transitioning to continued sustainment for the fleet to include platform and payload capability improvements,” said PMA-263 Program Manager Col. John Neville. “While it’s a normal shift in the life of any program, we maintain our focus on system readiness, affordability, and capability improvements to ensure Blackjack remains a critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability that’s relevant for the warfighter.”
Lt. Col. Russell Strange, Medium UAS lead, said the program will also seek to add capability to the system and grow the customer base for foreign military sales. “Increased capability will include work on command and control, communication systems, avionics, optics, laser designation, and payloads,” Strange said.