The US Marine Corps RQ-7B Shadow UAS has officially retired from the service after its final flight during the culmination event for the Rim of the Pacific exercise at Pyramid Rock Beach in Hawaii, the US Department of Defense announced on 2 August.
Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 3 was the last squadron to use the Shadow UAS. The RQ-7B Shadow UAS will be replaced by the new RQ-21 Blackjack UAS. The other Marine Corps UAS squadrons have already transitioned to the RQ-21 Blackjack.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships that are part of amphibious ready groups and Marine expeditionary units will be able to launch the Blackjacks. The Blackjack has a 16ft long wing span and a lighter weight distribution at 135lbs with an average flight time of ten hours.
Capt Mathew Kramer, a UAS commander with VMU-3, Marine Corps, said: ‘Variances of the RQ-7 have been flying since Operation Desert Storm, throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, right up until operations ceased. It’s exciting to see how the Blackjack will perform.’