Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II

The BQM-34F was a jet powered, supersonic, remote-controlled recoverable aerial target vehicle built by Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego for the United States Air Force. Similar versions, designated BQM-34E, and 34T, were used by the U.S. Navy. The first flight was in June 1972, and the Firebee II remained in service until 1990.

The Firebee II was a sleek dart of an aircraft with swept tailplane and swept mid-body wings. It was powered by a Teledyne CAE J69-T-6 turbojet, with the intake on the belly forward of the wings and the exhaust under the tailfins. Internal fuel capacity was small, but the target could be fitted with a conformal external tank that was dropped before boosting to supersonic speeds. The Firebee II was usually launched from a DC-130.

The primary mission of the Firebee II was to provide a realistic aerial target that simulated the performance of advanced high-speed enemy aircraft. This target drone was capable of speeds up to Mach 1.5 at 55,000 feet and had an endurance of 75 minutes at subsonic speeds. In addition to providing training for operational units, it aided in research and development of surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. With the radar altimeter low altitude control subsystem, it was able to fly down to an altitude of 50 feet over level terrain.

The Museum’s Firebee II was built in 1970 and flown by the United States Air Force. It was donated to the Museum by its manufacturer, Teledyne Ryan, in 1980.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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