The AQM-81A Firebolt is an unmanned high-altitude, supersonic aerial target powered by a "hybrid" rocket motor using a liquid oxidizer catalyst and solid propellant. Designed to permit USAF fighter pilots the opportunity to experience engaging a realistic air target, the Firebolts unique motor allows the in-flight adjustment of thrust to alter the UAVs speed and altitude effectively simulating a high-performance aircraft.
Intended to be air-launched from a manned aircraft, the AQM-81A Firebolt is equipped with a Scalar Scoring System providing missile miss-distance information throughout a 150-foot sphere centered on the target. The vehicle contains a Mid-Air Retrieval System (MARS), a parachute recovery system and a floatation device to allow midair retrieval, land or water recovery. Designated the Teledyne Ryan Model 305 the AQM-81A Firebolt was deemed too expensive and was never operationally produced.
Span: 3 ft. 4 in.
Length: 17 ft.
Height: 2 ft. 2 in.
Diameter: 1 ft. 1 in.
Maximum Launch Weight: 1,231 lbs.
Engine: United Technology Chemical Systems Division Hybrid Rocket Motor
Maximum Speed: Mach 4.3 (Approximately 2,600 mph)
Service Ceiling: 100,000 ft.
Endurance at Mach 3: 5 minutes
Based at: Eglin AFB, Florida.