VMU-2 FLIES RQ-21A IN CHERRY POINT MCAS AIRSPACE

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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, North Carolina — Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 launched into a new era with its RQ-21A Blackjack flight into Class D airspace, over Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, March 21.

Commonly only allowed to fly in restricted airspace, VMU-2 now has the expanded ability to integrate RQ-21A flight operations with manned aircraft over this air station.

Cherry Point’s Class D airspace is defined by a circle around the air station with a 5-mile radius, from the ground up to 2,500 feet above the air station. This is airspace that is constantly under the control of Cherry Point air traffic control, and is frequently busy with military air traffic, as well as contracted commercial flights landing and departing the air station.

“Unmanned aerial systems like the Blackjack are commonly flown from forward sites that sometimes restrict our integration with other air players and events,” explained 1st Lt. Orlando J. Benedict, an unmanned aerial systems officer with the squadron. “Having the RQ-21A at MCAS Cherry Point fosters connections with the rest of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and allows for procedures that integrate manned and unmanned aviation to be solidified for the future.”

The Blackjack is designed to operate off a Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of ground forces deployed worldwide. UAS requirements have evolved and the Marine Corps has refined its concept of operations to incorporate rapidly emerging technologies in its unmanned systems.

The RQ-21A Blackjack can safeguard military bases and activities through a pattern of life identification and explosive device detection. It is equipped with an electro-optic/infrared payload that supports the real-time monitoring to provide indications and threat warnings, and its plug-and-play payloads enable multi-intelligence capability to support a broad range of operations.

“The Blackjack’s main purpose is to support aerial reconnaissance missions,” said Sgt. James E. Burch, a UAV operator with VMU-2. “With the new system, we will now be able to launch and land the UAV on a ship, where with other systems, more space would be required for recovery.”

ScanEagles for Cameroon, Kenya and Pakistan

Foreign military sales fit nicely with AFRICOM shortfalls in Airborne ISR..

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Insitu has received three export contracts for its ScanEagle unmanned air vehicle that will see it deliver the system to Cameroon, Kenya and Pakistan.

Under the USA’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, Cameroon and Kenya will receive one ScanEagle system each by September 2016, through deals worth $9.39 million and $9.86 million respectively, the US Department of Defense announced on 29 September.

The acquisitions for Cameroon and Kenya will include 50% of the work on each contract being carried out in-country, and will see the delivery of analogue medium wave infra-red ScanEagle UAVs, launch and recovery equipment, ground control stations, Insitu video exploitation systems and ground support equipment for the governments, says the contract notice

Insitu wins second drone award in two weeks.. USMC off and running with RQ-21A Blackjack

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Insitu Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing, has won a $6.9 million order to support the Navy’s RQ-21A unmanned aircraft system.

The RQ-21A Blackjack provides tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition data collection and dissemination capabilities, according to the NAVAIR website.

Under the contract, Insitu will provide technical studies, conceptual design modifications and engineering development.

Work will be performed in Hood River, Ore., Bingen, Wash., Boardman, Ore., Webster Field, Saint Inigoes, Md., and Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to wrap up in June 2017.

In late August, Insitu won an $8.8 million Navy contract to support the Blackjack at the Marine Corps air stations at Cherry Point, N.C., and Bingen, Wash.

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Wash State to use unmanned aerial vehicle to monitor wildfires

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UAV will provide information to firefighters

As unusually hot and dry weather increases wildfire danger across the state, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to use an unmanned aerial vehicle in monitoring wildfires that pose an urgent threat, DNR announced today.

 

 “Use of a UAV can help get real-time information to firefighters on the ground,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Just over the last few days we’ve seen more than a hundred fire starts in Washington. Additional information can provide a safer operating environment for firefighters.”

DNR regularly uses airplanes and helicopters to monitor and control wildfires. Wind and smoke can ground these aircraft. A UAV can fly in conditions where manned aircraft cannot, and relay video information that helps fire suppression efforts.

In 2014, the Washington state legislature granted authority to DNR to use UAVs for the specific purpose of wildland fire monitoring and suppression.

Any decision on whether to use a UAV will be made in real time and depend on emergency conditions around a particular wildfire. If a UAV is warranted, the agency will use a “ScanEagle,” which is built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. The aircraft is about four feet long, has a 10-foot wingspan, weighs about 40 pounds and is equipped with cameras.

Despite the statewide burn ban on DNR-protected lands, weather conditions indicate a tough fire season ahead.

“At a time when resources are stretched, using a UAV can save money and help us accomplish our mission,” said Commissioner Goldmark. “I appreciate the leadership of the legislature, and especially the vision of State Senator Jim Hargrove, in helping us apply this technology to fighting fires, protecting communities and preserving habitat.”

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