NOVA/PBS NOVAPBS
AQM-34 Ryan Firebee (USA)
In 1960, the U.S. Air Force began its first stealth aircraft program and undertook to modify combat UAVs for reconnaissance missions. Engineers reduced the radar signature of a jet-powered Q-2C Firebee by fitting a specially designed screen over the engine's air intake, placing radar-absorbing blankets on the fuselage sides, and covering the aircraft with a newly developed anti-radar paint. The resulting AQM-34 Ryan Firebee was air-launched and controlled from a DC-130 director aircraft. After a mission, the Firebee UAV was directed to a safe recovery area, where it deployed its parachute and was picked up by a helicopter.

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