US Navy and Marine Corps small tac­ti­cal UAS en­ters pro­duc­tion phase


The Depart­ment of the US Navy has an­nounced that the RQ-21A small tac­ti­cal un­manned air­craft sys­tem (STUAS) re­ceived mile­stone C ap­proval au­tho­ris­ing the start of low rate ini­tial pro­duc­tion.

With MS C ap­proval, the RQ-21A pro­gramme, man­aged by the US Navy and Marine Corps STUAS pro­gramme of­fice (PMA-263) here at NAS Patux­ent River, en­ters the pro­duc­tion and de­ploy­ment phase of the ac­qui­si­tion timeline, ac­cord­ing to the PMA263 Pro­gramme Man­ager Col. Jim Rec­tor.

“This mile­stone al­lows us to pro­vide our warfighter with a unique ca­pa­bil­ity – an or­ganic UAS ca­pa­ble of op­er­a­tions from both land and sea,” said Rec­tor. “The RQ21A will pro­vide per­sis­tent mar­itime and land-based tac­ti­cal re­con­nais­sance, sur­veil­lance, and tar­get ac­qui­si­tion data col­lec­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

The Navy awarded In­situ, Inc., an En­gi­neer­ing Man­u­fac­tur­ing De­vel­op­ment (EMD) con­tract for STUAS in July 2010. Since then, the govern­ment/in­dus­try team has ex­e­cuted land-based de­vel­op­men­tal tests (DT), op­er­a­tional tests at China Lake, Cal­i­for­nia, in De­cem­ber 2012 and con­ducted the first sea-based DT from USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) in Fe­bru­ary.

Con­cur­rently, Marines are fly­ing an early op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity (EOC) sys­tem at Twenty Nine Palms, Cal­i­for­nia, for pre­de­ploy­ment prepa­ra­tion. Lessons learned from EOC will be ap­plied to op­er­a­tional mis­sions in theatre. The air­craft is based on In­situ’s Scan Ea­gle UAS, which has flown more than 245,000 hours in sup­port of US Navy and Marine Corps.

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