The US Marine Corps’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 has conducted its first flight of the RQ-21A Blackjack UAS at Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, US PACOM announced on 18 October.
The Blackjack UAS will provide soldiers with dedicated day and night ISR coverage, target acquisition and communication relay via a dedicated airborne sensor system capable of delivering actionable intelligence to the tactical commander in real time.
The expeditionary nature of the Blackjack, which means it can be launched and recovered without a runway, will enhance the capabilies of the Hawaii-based marine air-ground task force.
The RQ-21A Blackjack replaces the RQ-7B Shadow, which flew its last flight for the marines in July 2018, during Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2018.
Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3, call sign Phantoms, is one of only three active duty marine UAV squadrons. It is responsible for providing shore and ship-based aerial surveillance to III Marine Expeditionary Force units stationed throughout the Indo-Pacific.