Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

General Dynamics/Sperry PQM-102 Delta Dagger

In early 1973, Sperry received a contract to convert obsolete General Dynamics F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors to unmanned target drones under the Pave Deuce program. The first two prototype examples had provision for manned operation, and were designated QF-102A. The "production" conversion, designated PQM-102A, could be flown only unmanned. The first flight of a PQM-102A occurred in August 1974, and the target drone became operational in October that year. Although the convenient retainment of the number 102 in the designation could indicate that the missile designation was assigned out of sequence, this was not necessarily the case. Missile number 102 was the next in line in early 1974 anyway, so reserving it at that time for the Pave Deuce program did probably not require any "special handling".

Photo: USAF

The PQM-102A was a supersonic full-scale target powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet. A new FCSS (Flight Control Stabilization System) was installed to allow autonomous flight. For remote control, the aircraft was equipped with a radio command guidance and telemetry system. In flight, the PQM-102A was tracked via an AN/FPS-16 range radar, and during runway take-off and landing it was controlled by a pilot in the ground control station. Some of the electronics occupied the cockpit, which was the reason why the PQM-102A could not fly manned. Mission equipment included sophisticated scoring camera systems to evaluate missile approach angle and miss distance. A visual augmentation (smoke) system was also provided, but IR and radar augmentation was not necessary for a full-scale target.

Photo: USAF

The later PQM-102B had improved systems and added a low-altitude mode (for altitudes down to 60 m (200 ft)), for which a radar altimeter was installed. By relocating the electronics, the cockpit of the PQM-102B could reportedly be kept free for optional manned operation.

When the conversions were completed in 1982, more than 200 F-102As had been converted into PQM-102A and PQM-102B targets. They were used for evaluation of and training with many operational U.S. surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, FIM-92 Stinger and MIM-104 Patriot. The last PQM-102 was expended in 1985, and the type was succeeded by the North American/Sperry QF-100.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for PQM-102B:

Length20.84 m (68 ft 4.66 in)
Wingspan11.62 m (38 ft 1.5 in)
Height6.46 m (21 ft 2.5 in)
Weight14200 kg (31300 lb)
SpeedMach 1.2
Ceiling17000 m (56000 ft)
Range> 320 km (200 miles)
Endurance55 min
PropulsionPratt & Whitney J57-P-23A turbojet; 71.1 kN (16000 lb) with a/b

Main Sources

[1] R.T. Pretty (ed.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1982-83", Jane's, 1983
[2] Kenneth Munson: "World Unmanned Aircraft", Jane's, 1988

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Last Updated: 19 October 2002