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Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II

Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II target leaves its launch pad during an air-to-air combat training exercise in 1982, while another stands ready for launch in the background. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ryan BQM-34F Firebee II target leaves its launch pad during an air-to-air combat training exercise in 1982, while another stands ready for launch in the background. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The original BQM-34 Firebee II filled U.S. Navy requirements for a supersonic target to train aircrews and to test new weapons systems. The Firebee II retained many of the same basic systems as the highly-successful, subsonic Firebee I. The U.S. Air Force began receiving its BQM-34F version in the early 1970s. Ryan built nearly 300 Firebee IIs for the U.S. military.

The BQM-34F was launched from the ground with a rocket booster or dropped from a modified C-130. It was normally recovered with the Mid-Air Retrieval System (MARS), which included a specially equipped helicopter that hooked the BQM-34F’s 80-ft diameter parachute as it descended. If it landed in water, the Firebee II could float for several hours until it was recovered.

The Firebee II on display (69-3374) was retired from active service with the 6514th Test Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah, in August 1978.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Engine: Continental YJ69-406 turbojet with 1,920 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: Mach 1.5 dash (for 4 minutes at 60,000 feet)
Endurance: 73 minutes
Service ceiling: 50-60,000 feet
Weight: 2,460 lbs. maximum

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