The QU-22B was to be an unmanned airborne relay for the Igloo White operation during the Southeast Asia War. Igloo White placed and monitored sensors to detect traffic along the main enemy supply line, the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Modified from the civilian Beech Model 36 Bonanza under the Pave Eagle II program, the 27 QU-22Bs delivered to the U.S. Air Force contained several changes for military service. The QU-22B carried a large generator above the engine to power its electronic equipment and additional fuel in extended wing tip tanks for increased range. Its remote control equipment allowed the QU-22B to be flown directly by an onboard pilot or as an unmanned drone.
In 1970 a detachment of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing (later the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron) known as the "Vampires," conducted the first operational QU-22B flights. During a typical mission, the QU-22B orbited near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, picking up signals from Igloo White acoustic and vibration sensing ground units and relaying them to the Information Surveillance Center (or "Task Force Alpha") at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Although the QU-22B performed well as a signal relay, all operational flights in Southeast Asia carried a pilot onboard due to equipment reliability problems. In 1972, after the loss of several aircraft, the USAF cancelled the QU-22 program. The museum's QU-22B went on display in 2002.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: None Engine: Continental GTSIO-520-G engine of 375 hp Maximum speed: 204 mph Endurance: 6 hours manned and 10 hours unmanned Operating altitude: 30,000 unmanned and below 25,000 ft. with pilot Span: 39.45 ft. (with tip tanks) Length: 26.67 ft. Height: 8.45 ft. Weight: 4,800 lbs. gross (estimated)