The US Marine Corps Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) currently training in Australia’s Northern Territory has conducted the first training flight (video) of an RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial system (UAS) on the deployment.
The RQ-21A is based on the Insitu Integrator UAS which Insitu Pacific is pitching as a package with the smaller ScanEagle for the Australian Army’s LAND 129 Phase 3 tactical UAS requirement. Insitu is one of four bidders that submitted proposals (page 16) in July to replace the Army’s Textron RQ-7B Shadow 200 in service.
More than 1,000 USMC personnel are deployed to the Northern Territory for its annual MRF-D training across the region’s vast ranges during the dry season. Overall MRF-D numbers are well down this year compared to a peak of 2,500 in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all deployed personnel were required to undertake 14 days quarantine prior to commencing training.