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Home > Fact Sheets > Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34Q Combat Dawn Firebee


Posted 4/25/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
DAYTON, Ohio -- Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34Q in the Southeast Asia War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Firebee drones flew many types of missions, including photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence gathering, and radio communications monitoring. From February 1970 to June 1973, AQM-34Q unmanned aircraft flew 268 missions near North Korea monitoring voice communications (known as communication intelligence or COMINT). Code-named "Combat Dawn," the AQM-34Q was developed after North Korean MiGs shot down a U.S. Navy EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace with the loss of all 31 crewmembers. Teledyne-Ryan built a total of four prototypes and 15 production AQM-34Qs.
Launched in mid-air from a modified C-130, the AQM-34Q flew a preprogrammed course or was manually flown by a remote operator. It intercepted radio signals from as far as 300 miles away and relayed them in real time to a ground control van. After returning to a safe area over water, the AQM-34Q deployed a parachute. A modified helicopter then hooked the parachute to catch the drone in mid-air -- if the operation, failed the drone was retrieved from the ocean's surface. 

The museum's AQM-34Q was nicknamed the Flying Submarine because of the many times it dropped into the ocean. Water recoveries are represented by dolphins and airborne retrievals are represented by parachutes. Placed on display in 2006, it is marked as it appeared in May 1973.

Continental J100 turbojet engine of 2,800 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: High subsonic
Endurance: Up to 8 hours with external fuel tanks
Ceiling: About 75,000 ft.

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