RQ-21A Makes First Flight

Insitu announced completion of the first flight of the RQ-21A, the small-sized remotely piloted aircraft that it is developing for the Navy and Marine Corps under the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System program. “First flight of the RQ-21A marks the start of a very fast-paced integrated developmental and operational test period” at NAS China Lake, Calif., starting later in August, said Marine Corps Col. James Rector, STUAS program manager, in Insitu’s July 31 release. Rector said the RQ-21 would be “a huge enabler” for Marine Expeditionary Units by providing them with an organic intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability. The one-hour test flight took place on July 28 at Insitu’s facility in eastern Oregon, according to the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing headquartered in Bingen, Wash. The RQ-21, scheduled for initial operations in 2013, is based on Insitu’s Integrator RPA design, which, in turn, is based on the company’s ScanEagle model. The latter RPA has already seen widespread use in the US military.