The RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system inaugural Marine Corps maintenance technician class completed the first-of-its-kind course at Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Nov. 6 at Cherry Point, N.C. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Marines complete RQ-21A UAS maintenance course to prep for new schoolhouse

News Release, NAVAIR News

An instructor from the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit instructor shows students components on the RQ-21A Blackjack during the inaugural Marine Corps maintenance technician class held at CNATTU Cherry Point, N.C. The eight-week course completed Nov. 6. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. ––The Marine Corps and RQ-21A Blackjack training systems recently completed the first unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) maintenance technician course in preparation for the new schoolhouse scheduled to open next year in Cherry Point, North Carolina.  

The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS program office (PMA-263) is now finalizing the eight-week pilot course curriculum with the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU), Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, and the students who recently completed the course. 

“This is a great progression of the RQ-21A program as we prepare to hand the maintenance  training baton over to CNATT, who has worked closely with us, the fleet, and our industry partner Insitu to develop a first-class curriculum for our future Marine maintenance technicians,” said Col. John Neville, PMA-263 program manager.

Students in the pilot course were hand-selected to ensure a wide variety of experience levels. The RQ-21A-qualified instructors from CNATTU taught lessons in the classroom and then students got hands-on practice in the labs.

“I enjoyed being a part of the pilot course because I was able to provide my opinion and input,” said Lance Cpl. Isaac Allen, CNATT student. “I appreciated being able to have an effect on the pace of each lesson and what I thought should be changed, so those in future classes can learn best.”

The curriculum includes an introduction to UAS operations; RQ-21A system overview; RQ-21A system theory of operation; flight line, flight, launcher and recovery operations; pre-flight and post-flight inspections; RQ-21A scheduled and unscheduled maintenance; and RQ-21A troubleshooting procedures.

“It was neat to return back to the schoolhouse and learn about the RQ-21A system in a more in-depth course compared to the rest of my peers in Hawaii,” said Lance Cpl. Latasha Lonzo, assigned to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3. “Although I was able to use my prior knowledge from when I worked on the RQ-7B Shadow, I still found the curriculum to be challenging and very engaging, especially the labs.”

The official Marine Corps qualification course for future Marine UAS Maintenance Technicians will be designated as MOS 6314.


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