AQM-81A Firebolt

Manufacturer: United Technology
Designation: AQM-81A
Nickname: Firebolt
Type: Target dron
Specifications (Boeing Minuteman II)
Length: 17'
Height: 2' 2"
Diameter: 1' 1"
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: United Technology Chemical Systems Division Hybrid Rocket Motor
Endurance: Mach 3 for 5 minutes
Max Speed: Mach 4.3 (Approximately 2,600 mph)
Ceiling: 100,000'


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 Firebolt’s unique motor allows the in-flight adjustment of thrust to alter the UAV’s 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.


This aircraft is on loan from the NMUSAF