Pentagon reprogrammed $18M for Marine Corps RQ-21 shortfall

By Justin Katz / May 4, 2018 at 9:44 AM

The Pentagon comptroller approved an $18 million request to resolve an RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle shortfall, according to a reprogramming action document.

"The U.S. Marine Corps has identified a spares and sustainment shortfall in FY-18, due to RQ-21 flight hours for Operation Inherent Resolve exceeding budgeted flight hours by more than 300 percent," according to the document signed by Pentagon comptroller David Norquist Feb. 20.

The document further noted that RQ-21 is a Military Intelligence Program and the funds are an Overseas Contingency Operations budget requirement.

More than half -- $10 million -- of the $18 million came from "efficiencies" found in the RQ-21 UAV program in FY-16 and FY-17 which resulted in program requirements being satisfied below budgeted costs.

Approximately $1.5 million came from FY-17 dollars appropriated for the Marine Corps' RQ-7B unmanned aerial systems operations. The requirements and responsibilities for that mission have been transferred to the Army.

"Marine Corps UAV squadrons were directed to focus operations on the RQ-21A Blackjack," the document said. "Further upgrades to Marine Corps RQ-7B would be an inefficient use of funding."

The rest of the funds -- $5.4 million -- were FY-17 dollars to buy an Army sensor bound for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle that was not procured due to poor testing.