Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack

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RQ-21 Blackjack
RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS).jpg
Sailors recover a RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS)
Role unmanned air vehicle
National origin United States
Manufacturer Insitu wholly owned subsidiary of
Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight 28 July 2012
Primary users United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Number built 109 systems with 5 air vehicles each (estimated through FY2017)[1][2][3][4]
Program cost US$559 million (estimated U.S. DoD cost for 104 systems through FY2017)[3]
Developed from Boeing Insitu ScanEagle

The Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack, formerly called the Integrator, is an American unmanned air vehicle designed and built by Boeing Insitu to meet a United States Navy requirement for a small tactical unmanned air system (STUAS).[5] It is a twin-boomed, single-engined, monoplane, designed as a supplement to the Boeing Scan Eagle.[5] The Integrator weighs 61kg (135lb) and uses the same launcher and recovery system as the Scan Eagle.[5]

Design and development[edit]

The RQ-21A Integrator first flew on 28 July 2012.[5]

On 10 September 2012, the Integrator entered developmental testing with a 66-minute flight. The Navy launched one using a pneumatic launcher and a recovery system known as Skyhook. This eliminates the need for runways and enables a safe recovery and expeditionary capability for tactical missions on land or sea. At the current testing rate, Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was expected in 2013.[6]

On 10 February 2013, the Integrator completed its first at-sea flight from the USS Mesa Verde San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. This followed completing three months of land-based flights.[7]

On 19 February 2013, Insitu completed the first flight of the RQ-21A Block II. It weighs 121 lb and flew for 2 hours. It was controlled by a new ground control system meant to integrate dissimilar UAV systems. The Block II has the sensor from the Nighteagle, the night version of the ScanEagle, and is designed to operate in high-temperature environments.[8]

On 15 May 2013, the Department of the Navy announced that the RQ-21A Integrator received Milestone C approval authorizing the start of low rate initial production. With Milestone C approval, the Integrator entered production and deployment.[9]

On 12 June 2013, the RQ-21A completed its first East Coast flight from Webster Field Annex, starting the next phase of tests for the Integrator. The UAV was launched with a pneumatic launcher, flew for 1.8 hours, and was recovered with an Insitu-built system known as the STUAS Recovery System (SRS), which allows safe recovery of the STUAS on land or at sea. This phase of testing was to validate updates made to the aircraft which include software, fuselage, and camera enhancements. The Integrator was test flown at lower density altitudes. Integrated Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) was scheduled for October 2013.[10]

In September 2013, the Integrator was renamed the RQ-21A Blackjack. On 28 November 2013, the U.S. Navy awarded Boeing Insitu an $8.8 million contract for one low-rate production aircraft in preparation for full-rate production.[11]

In January 2014, the first low-rate production RQ-21A Blackjack began IOT&E for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Testing will be conducted over the next several months to demonstrate its effectiveness in realistic combat conditions.[12]


 United States


Data from [14]Product Page

General characteristics

  • Length: 8.2 ft (2.5 m)
  • Wingspan: 16 ft (4.9 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 135 lb (61 kg)


  • Maximum speed: 104 mph; 167 km/h (90 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 63 mph (55 kn; 101 km/h)
  • Endurance: 24 hours
  • Service ceiling: 19,500 ft (5,944 m)


  1. ^ a b c Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (April 2012). "Department of Defense Report to Congress on Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training, Operations, and Sustainability". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Integrator UAV is expected to reach operational capability in the US military during 2013.". Military Factory. 2013-03-04. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "APPROPRIATION/BUDGET ACTIVITY 1319: Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy BA 7: Operational Systems Development". PE 0305234M: (U)RQ-21A (STUASL0). U.S. Navy. February 2012. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d RQ-21A Integrator completes first flight
  6. ^ Navy, Marines Begin RQ-21 Developmental Flight Testing -, September 11, 2012
  7. ^ RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System Completes First Ship-Based Flight -, February 12, 2013
  8. ^ Insitu completes RQ-21A Block II first flight -, February 19, 2013
  9. ^ Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS Enters Production Phase -, May 21, 2013
  10. ^ RQ-21A Small UAS Completes First East Coast Flight -, 14 June 2013
  11. ^ Navy buys one Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack UAV in preparation for ramping-up production -, 29 November 2013
  12. ^ RQ-21A Blackjack begins operational test phase -, 28 January 2014
  13. ^ Article about ScanEagle and RQ-21 -, Oktober 12, 2012
  14. ^