RQ-2 PioneerThe RQ-2 Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has served with United States Navy, Marine, and Army units, deploying aboard ship and ashore since 1986. Initially deployed aboard battleships to provide gunnery spotting, its mission evolved into reconnaissance and surveillance, primarily for amphibious forces. Launched by rocket assist (shipboard), by catapult, or from a runway, it recovers into a net (shipboard) or with arresting gear after flying up to 4 hours with a 75-pound payload. It flies with a gimbaled EO/IR sensor, relaying analog video in real time via a C-band line-of-sight (LOS) data link. Since 1991, Pioneer has flown reconnaissance missions during the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo conflicts. In 2000, the Navy operated three Pioneer systems (one for training) and the Marines two, each with five aircraft. Pioneer was replaced by the Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical UAV (VTUAV).
The "R" is the Department of Defense designation for reconnaissance; "Q" means unmanned aircraft system. The "2" refers to it being the second of a series of purpose-built unmanned reconnaissance aircraft systems. See also RQ-1 Predator, RQ-3 Dark Star, RQ-4 Global Hawk, RQ-5 Hunter, RQ-6 Outrider, and RQ-7 Shadow.