RQ-21A will provide persistent maritime and land-based tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) data collection and dissemination capabilities to the warfighter. For the United States Marine Corps, RQ-21A will provide the Marine Expeditionary Force and subordinate commands (divisions and regiments) a dedicated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) system capable of delivering intelligence products directly to the tactical commander in real time. For the United States Navy, RQ-21A will provide persistent RSTA support for tactical maneuver decisions and unit-level force defense/force protection for Navy ships, Marine Corps land forces, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command forces and Navy Special Warfare Units. It is envisioned that the United States Air Force will employ RQ-21A to provide persistent RSTA in support of security forces, integrated base defense and convoy protection requirements, and meteorological survey and data analysis by weather personnel.
RQ-21A will consist of a number of Air Vehicles (AV), Ground Control Systems (GCS), and multi-mission payloads which will provide intelligence coverage, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications relay for up to 15 hours per day continuously with a short surge capability for 24 hours a day. Payloads include Day/Night Full Motion Video cameras, infrared marker, laser range finder, and Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers. Ancillary equipment includes launch/recovery mechanisms, tactical communications equipment, and spares. RQ-21A will have a minimal operating radius of 50 nautical miles (nm) and the AV will be capable of airspeeds up to 80 nm per hour (knots) with a service ceiling of 15,000 feet density altitude. The fully autonomous launch and recovery system will require minimal space for takeoff and recovery from an unimproved expeditionary/urban environment, as well as from the deck of Navy ships. Initial operational capability is planned for 2013.
Overall Length: 7.2 feet
Weight: design gross take-off: 125 lbs
Airspeed: 80 knots
Ceiling: 15,000 feet
Range: 50 nm
Payload: electro-optical/infrared, comm relay, AIS, LRF, IR Pointer
Contractor: Insitu, Inc.