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Planes without Pilots: SAC Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

Remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) saw their first widespread combat use during the Southeast Asia War. Strategic Air Command (SAC) remotely piloted AQM-34 Firebees obtained excellent photography of dangerous areas without risking aircrews. First deployed to South Vietnam in 1964, AQM-34s flew missions in Southeast Asia into 1975.

Most Firebees flew during the day at low altitude taking photographs with an optical camera. Other versions flew at high altitude, provided real-time television imagery, took infrared photos at night, or recorded and jammed enemy electronic signals.

Click here for more information about RPAs during the Southeast Asia War.

Teledyne-Ryan AQM-34L Firebee M.R. Ling

Click here to return to the SEA Reconnaissance Overview.