Marine Blackjack UAS declared operational

Michael Peck, Contributing Writer

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mark W. Freas, an unmanned aerial vehicle maintainer assigned to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, performs a preflight check on an RQ-21A Blackjack prior to a training flight at Marine Corps Outlying Field Atlantic Field on July 1, 2015. The training flight was conducted to ensure the safety and stability of the small unmanned aircraft system.(Photo: Lance Cpl. Koby Saunders/U.S. Marine Corps)

The Navy and Marine Corps RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system has been declared operational.

Initial operational capability means the first Marine Blackjack squadron is ready for deployment. Squadron VMU-2 will be assigned to support the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Cherry Point, North Carolina. The first shipboard deployment is slated for this summer, according to a Naval Air Systems Command announcement.

The 8-foot-long Blackjack, which has an endurance of 10 to 12 hours, has been tested in Afghanistan. Each Blackjack system comprises five air vehicles, two ground control systems, and launch and recovery support equipment.

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