United States Marines Corps to procure one hundred UAV Blackjack systems by 2017 32201161

Defence & Security News - Boeing
 
United States Marines Corps to procure one hundred UAV Blackjack systems by 2017
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has declared that the RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with deployment of the system to commence this summer. One hundred systems of five vehicles each and using the San Eagle system launcher, are planned for the USMC by 2017.
     
United States Marines Corps to procure one hundred UAV Blackjack systems by 2017 640 001RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
     
Formerly known as the Integrator, the Blackjack has been developed by Boeing as part of a low rate production of a small tactical unmanned air system (STUAS) for the US Navy, and uses the same launcher and recovery system as the Scan Eagle system.

ScanEagle’s base Insight UAV platform was originally developed by Washington state’s Insitu, Inc. to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats, in order to ensure that the fish you buy in supermarkets is “dolphin-safe”. It turns out that the same characteristics needed by fishing boats (able to handle salt water environments, low infrastructure launch and recovery, small size, 20-hour long endurance, automated flight patterns) are equally important for naval operations from larger vessels, and for battlefield surveillance.

A partnership with Boeing took ScanEagle to market in those fields, and the USMC’s initial buy in 2004 was the beginning of a market-leading position in its niche.

This article covers recent developments with the ScanEagle UAV system, which is quickly evolving into a mainstay with the US Navy and its allies.

Incumbency doesn’t last long in the fast-changing world of UAVs, though. Insitu’s own RQ-21 Integrator is looking to push the ScanEagle aside, and new multiple-award contracts in the USA are creating opportunities for other competitors.
 

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