Two Marines lift an RQ-21A Blackjack prior to launch. The Blackjack is based on Insitu's Integrator platform. (Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Heins/Marine Corps)
SEATTLE — Insitu is developing a heavier model of its Integrator unmanned aerial system, a company executive said Thursday.
“Right now, we’re working on taking an Integrator-like platform and taking it up to about 165 pounds,” said Ryan Hartman, senior vice president of Insitu Programs. “That enables us to add a lot more capability and endurance.”
The company’s Integrator platform, used by the Marines as the RQ-21A Blackjack, currently weighs in at 135 pounds. Increasing the size by thirty pounds gives the company extra room to play with in terms of payloads and capabilities.
“Integrator was designed to be a multimission platform,” Hartman said. “One of the things we know for a fact is when you start adding more sensors to platform you impact the performance. What we’re trying to do is balance the capability that we bring to the table through payloads, with the performance customers have come to expect from us.”
Hartman’s comments came at a briefing for reporters as part of a media tour arranged and paid for by Boeing. Insitu is a subsidiary of the company.
The Insitu executive offered few details on the design, but did say that it is not being designed to carry weaponry. To accompany the newer design, the company is looking at altering the launch mechanism, either by adding more power or increasing the length of the device.
Asked whether the company was responding to a requirement, Hartman paused briefly and said “we have something very specific in mind.”
Insitu recently opened a new facility, drastically upgrading their production capabilities. They are also investing in upgraded sensors for the Integrator platform, including introducing beyond line of sight capabilities and new radars.
While the firm’s ScanEagle product continues to be popular — Hartman highlighted interest in the 45 pound unmanned system from international navies — Insitu, like many other companies in the defense realm, is trying to position itself further with the commercial market.
“The transition for the company has been to go from 100 percent services to a company that has approximately 30-50 percent services and the rest of it made up of acquisition customers,” Hartman said.■