Lockheed AQM-60 Kingfisher

The AQM-60 Kingfisher, originally designated XQ-5, was a target drone version of the USAF's X-7 test aircraft built by the Lockheed Corporation. The aircraft was designed by Kelly Johnson, the designer who later went on to create the Lockheed A-12 and its relatives, such as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and Lockheed YF-12.[1]

The X-7's development began in 1946 after a request from the USAF for a Mach 3 unmanned aerial vehicle for test purposes. This unmanned test craft eventually evolved into the Kingfisher, which was later used to test anti-missile systems such as the MIM-3 Nike Ajax, SAM-A-25/MIM-14 Nike Hercules, and IM-99/CIM-10.[2]

The Kingfisher was capable of evading the vast majority of weapons systems it was used to test, despite the systems being designed to destroy hypersonic missiles in flight. This created a significant amount of embarrassment at the USAF, resulting in considerable political fallout, which led to the eventual discontinuation of production in 1959 and the cancellation of the project entirely in the mid-1960s.[3]

The engine developed for the AQM-60 was later modified for use on a long range nuclear tipped ramjet called the CIM-10 Bomarc, which was used as a nationwide defense against nuclear bombers during the 1960s and early 1970s. An endurance variant of the same engine was produced in order to be used in the Lockheed D-21, which was designed to be launched off the back of a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird mothership or from under the wing of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress nuclear bomber.[4]

AQM-60 Kingfisher
AQM-60 Kingfisher awaiting loading onto its B-50 mothership before a test of US air defenses.
Role Target drone
National origin United States of America
Manufacturer Lockheed
First flight April 1951
Primary user United States Air Force
Developed from Lockheed X-7


General characteristics

  • Length: 38 ft 1 in (11.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 9 ft 10 in (3 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 11 in (2.1 m)
  • Gross weight: 7,937 lb (3,600 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Marquardt XRJ43-MA ramjet (Sustainer)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Thiokol XM45 (5KS50000) solid-fuel rockets, 50,000 lbf (222 kN) thrust each for 5s (Boosters)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 4.3
  • Range: 110 nmi (130 mi, 210 km)
  • Service ceiling: 98,000 ft (30,000 m)


  1. ^ "Johnson, Clarence Leonard - National Aviation Hall of Fame". nationalaviation.org. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  2. ^ Area 51 - Black Jets: A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, Bill Yenne 2014, p.95
  3. ^ "The Lockheed X-7". www.456fis.org. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  4. ^ Goodall and Goodall 2002, p. 106.

External links

CIM-10 Bomarc

The Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc (IM-99 Weapon System prior to September 1962) was a supersonic long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) used during the Cold War for the air defense of North America. In addition to being the first operational long-range SAM, it was the only SAM deployed by the United States Air Force.

Stored horizontally in a launcher shelter with movable roof, the missile was erected, fired vertically using rocket boosters to high altitude, and then tipped over into a horizontal Mach 2.5 cruise powered by ramjet engines. This lofted trajectory allowed the missile to operate at a maximum range as great as 430 mi (700 km). Controlled from the ground for most of its flight, when it reached the target area it was commanded to begin a dive, activating an onboard active radar homing seeker for terminal guidance. A radar proximity fuse detonated the warhead, either a large conventional explosive or the W40 nuclear warhead.

The Air Force originally planned for a total of 52 sites covering most of the major cities and industrial regions in the US. The US Army was deploying their own systems at the same time, and the two services fought constantly both in political circles and in the press. Development dragged on, and by the time it was ready for deployment in the late 1950s, the nuclear threat had moved from manned bombers to the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). By this time the Army had successfully deployed their Nike Hercules that filled any possible need through the 1960s, in spite of Air Force claims to the contrary.As testing continued, the Air Force reduced its plans to sixteen sites, and then again to eight with an additional two sites in Canada. The first US site was declared operational in 1959, but with only a single working missile. Bringing the rest of the missiles into service took years, by which time the system was obsolete. Deactivations began in 1969 and by 1972 all Bomarc sites had been shut down. A small number were used as target drones, and only a few remain on display today.

Kelly Johnson (engineer)

Clarence Leonard "Kelly" Johnson (February 27, 1910 – December 21, 1990) was an American aeronautical and systems engineer. He is recognized for his contributions to a series of important aircraft designs, most notably the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird. Besides the first production aircraft to exceed Mach 3, he also produced the first fighter capable of Mach 2, the United States' first operational jet fighter, as well as the first fighter to exceed 400 mph, and many other contributions to various aircraft. As a member and first team leader of the Lockheed Skunk Works, Johnson worked for more than four decades and is said to have been an "organizing genius". He played a leading role in the design of over forty aircraft, including several honored with the prestigious Collier Trophy, acquiring a reputation as one of the most talented and prolific aircraft design engineers in the history of aviation. In 2003, as part of its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology ranked Johnson eighth on its list of the top 100 "most important, most interesting, and most influential people" in the first century of aerospace. Hall Hibbard, Johnson's Lockheed boss, referring to Johnson's Swedish ancestry once remarked to Ben Rich: "That damned Swede can actually see air."

List of Lockheed aircraft

This is a list of aircraft produced or proposed by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation from its founding as the Lockheed Aircraft Company in 1926 to its merging with Martin Marietta to form the Lockheed Martin Corporation in 1995.

Ordered by model number, Lockheed gave most of its aircraft astronomical names, from the first Vega to the C-5 Galaxy. Aircraft models listed in italics and with higher numbers – 780 following 80 and preceding 81, for example – are variants or developments of the base model.

List of unmanned aerial vehicles

The following is a list of unmanned aerial vehicles developed and operated in various countries around the world.

Lockheed X-7

The Lockheed X-7 (dubbed the "Flying Stove Pipe") was an American unmanned test bed of the 1950s for ramjet engines and missile guidance technology. It was the basis for the later Lockheed AQM-60 Kingfisher, a system used to test American air defenses against nuclear missile attack.

Development of the Kingfisher was first initiated in December 1946. The X-7 was called into production by the United States Air Force requirement for the development of an unmanned ramjet test plane with a top speed of at least Mach 3 (2300 mph).Originally the X-7 project was developed under MX-883 and was titled Model L-151, and was designated the PTV-A-1 but received its official title of the X-7 in 1951. Despite its first launch being a failure, after re-development of the original ramjet, following test flights were successful. A total of 130 X-7 flights were conducted from April 1951 to July 1960.

Target drone

A target drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle, generally remote controlled, usually used in the training of anti-aircraft crews.One of the earliest drones was the British DH.82 Queen Bee, a variant of the Tiger Moth trainer aircraft operational from 1935. Its name led to the present term "drone".In their simplest form, target drones often resemble radio-controlled model aircraft. More modern drones may use countermeasures, radar, and similar systems to mimic manned aircraft.More advanced drones are made from large, older missiles which have had their warheads removed.In the United Kingdom, obsolete Royal Air Force and Royal Navy jet and propeller-powered aircraft (such as the Fairey Firefly, Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Sea Vixen used at RAE Llanbedr between the 1950s and 1990s) have also been modified into remote controlled drones, but such modifications are costly. With a much larger budget, the U.S. military has been more likely to convert retired aircraft or older versions of still serving aircraft (e.g., QF-4 Phantom II and QF-16 Fighting Falcon) into remotely piloted targets for US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps use as Full Scale Aerial Targets.

Lockheed and Lockheed Martin aircraft and spacecraft
Light aircraft
USAF drone aircraft designations 1948–1962


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