Insitu: Integrator Export Variant Sold in Middle East
Boeing subsidiary Insitu has sold several export variants of its Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to international customers, the company said this week. The Block 2 variant for export is described as a separate baseline system to the 135-pound maximum takeoff weight (mtow) Integrator being developed for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps RQ-21A small tactical UAS (STUAS) requirement. The Integrator and its smaller sister, the 44-pound mtow ScanEagle, use a common pneumatic catapult launch and SkyHook catch cable retrieval systems, and a common command-and-control system.
“We have sold several Block 2 systems already,” Ryan Hartman, Insitu senior vice president for Integrator programs, said during a briefing at the Navy League conference in National Harbor, Md. The buyers are based in the “Middle East” and are using the system for military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), he said.
Insitu also hopes to sell the version to U.S. customers other than the Pentagon, he added. The company is eyeing commercial applications for the UAS in the petroleum industry and for weather-sensing purposes. The baseline Integrator configuration includes a multifunction sensor turret with electro-optic and mid-wave infrared (IR) cameras, IR tracker and laser rangefinder.
In July 2010 the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) chose the Integrator over competing platforms for the STUAS program to provide persistent maritime and land-based ISR. Navair awarded Insitu an initial 27-month, $43.7 million engineering and manufacturing development contract to build six Integrator air vehicles to support land and shipboard testing and low-rate initial production (LRIP). Insitu announced on April 9 that the RQ-21A completed its first maritime developmental test flight from the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock. The nearly two-hour flight took place on February 10.
Hartman said Insitu expects a Milestone C decision from the Navy that would authorize the beginning of a two-system LRIP phase in the next month or two. The company anticipates a full-rate production decision by late this year or early next year. The STUAS program of record is 56 systems for the Navy and Marine Corps. However, during a briefing on the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request on April 10, Rear Adm. Joseph Mulloy said the STUAS effort is being “truncated” to become a “Marine Corps program moving on Navy ships.”