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

Teledyne Ryan AQM-103 Firebee

In 1974, the U.S. Air Force's FDL (Flight Dynamics Laboratory) converted a single Ryan Model 147G Firebee reconnaissance drone to a high-manoeuverability testbed known as "FDL-23". The structure of the FDL-23 was modified to withstand 10g, and the designation XQM-103A was allocated.

Photo: USAF

The XQM-103A made a few test flights, which were generally considered successful. The drone could maintain constant altitude turns at 6g, and three-axis control was found identical to that of then current manned aircraft. However, when all tactical RPV programs were curtailed in late 1975, the XQM-103A flight test program was also terminated. The final designation of the drone was XAQM-103A, but the change probably wasn't effective before the end of the program.


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

Data for XQM-103A (based on Model 147G airframe):

Length8.8 m (29 ft)
Wingspan8.2 m (27 ft)
Weight> 1360 kg (3000 lb)
Speed> 960 km/h (600 mph)
Ceiling> 15000 m (50000+ ft)
PropulsionContinental J69-T-41A; 8.5 kN (1920 lb)

Main Sources

[1] William Wagner, William P. Sloan: "Fireflies and other UAVs", Midland Publishing, 1992
[2] Kenneth Munson: "World Unmanned Aircraft", Jane's, 1988

Back to Current Designations Of U.S. Unmanned Military Aerospace Vehicles
Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles

Last Updated: 3 March 2002