Marine Corps manpower shift leads to reduction in RQ-21 FY-19 request

By Justin Katz / February 16, 2018 at 12:26 PM

The Marine Corps reduced its fiscal year 2019 budget request for RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned aerial systems from four to zero as a result of an internal manpower shift, according to a service spokesman.

The service previously projected it would request four systems in the FY-19 budget request. However, six RQ-21 systems -- which consist of five air vehicles per system -- are scheduled to be delivered between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, which will bring the service to full operational capability by 2019 with 21 systems, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Christopher Harrison told Inside the Navy in a Feb. 16 email.

"Internal Marine Corps reprogramming has shifted [Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] manpower to a level that supports the current requirement of 21 RQ-21A systems by FY-18," he said.

The RQ-21 is a dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system capable of delivering intelligence products directly to the tactical commander in real time, according to Navy budget justification documents.