Saturday, May 25, 2024

U.S. Marine Corps Blackjack completed its first flight in Australia

The RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial system was launched for the first time in Australia at Bradshaw Field Training Area, Northern Territory on Aug. 8.

U.S. Marines with Air Combat Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin have conducted the Marine Corps’ first flight of the RQ-21A Blackjack in Australia, said in a statement on an official III Marine Expeditionary Force Twitter account.

RQ-21A Blackjack is the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System designed and manufactured by Insitu Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company.


The Blackjack provides the warfighter with dedicated day and night intelligence in austere environments, surveillance, and reconnaissance coverage, target acquisition, and communication relay via a dedicated and cost effective airborne sensor system capable of delivering actionable intelligence to the tactical commander in real time.

The UAV system is modular, versatile and multi-mission capable, providing rapid transitions between land and maritime environments. The aircraft can safeguard military bases and activities through a pattern of life identification and explosive device detection. The electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) payloads support real-time monitoring to provide indications and threat warnings and its plug-and-play payloads enable multi-intelligence capability to support a broad range of operations. Extended operations via maritime hub-and-spoke capabilities offer real-time over watch for Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams, as well as over-the-horizon information and communication relay for ship sensor range extension.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alexandria Nowell

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About author:

Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato is defense reporter, covering the Asia-Pacific defense industrial base, defense markets and all related issues. He has covered the US and Japan bilateral exercises for several years.