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.