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The AQM-35 was a supersonic target drone produced by Northrop.



The AQM-35 program began life in 1953 as the Model RP-61 supersonic target drone. In June 1954 the United States Air Force awarded Northrop a contract for development of the project as the Q-4; the first flight-capable XQ-4 was launched in 1956.

The XQ-4 was capable of either ground or air launch, though the former mode was never tested. It was powered by an XJ81-WE-3turbojet, allowing it to reach speeds of Mach 1.55. The drone's course was followed with radar, and flight commands were sent by a radio telemetry system. When the mission was completed the XQ-4 would deploy a three-stage parachute system along with four large inflatable airbags to cushion the impact with the ground.

The Air Force planned to use the Q-4 as a target for various surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. A secondary reconnaissance function was planned, with TV or cameras carried. The drone was air-launched by a Lockheed DC-130 Hercules drone controller aircraft, or other carrier aircraft.

In 1963, the Q-4 family of drones were given the designation AQM-35A and AQM-35B. They were never considered entirely successful, with a variety of problems arising during both the development and flight testing phases. It was also considered that the flight performance of the drone was so high that it was not a realistic test for the missiles being developed - ironic since the whole point of the project was to develop a supersonic target. Only 25 of all types were ever built. The last examples of the type were retired during the 1960s.


The XQ-4A, was developed to use a have a Fairchild J83 engine and a modified radar signature for testing the CIM-10 Bomarc missile. When the engine could not be developed in time the variant was cancelled.

In 1959 Northrop was given a contract to develop an improved XQ-4B fitted with a much more powerful J85-GE-5 engine and a strengthened airframe. This variant was first flown in 1961.

Specifications (XQ-4/AQM-35A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: none
  • Length: 33 ft (10.06 m)
  • Wingspan: 11 ft 1 in (3.38 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.69 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,980 lb (900 kg)
  • Powerplant:Westinghouse XJ81-WE-3 turbojet, 1,810 lbf (8.0 kN)
  • * Diameter: 20 in (51 cm)


Specifications (XQ-4B/AQM-35B)

General characteristics

  • Crew: none
  • Length: 35 ft 4 in (10.77 m)
  • Wingspan: 12 ft 8 in (3.86 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,400 lb (1,540 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojet, 3,850 lbf (17.1 kN)
  • * Diameter: 20 in (51 cm)



See also



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