Northrop AQM-35

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

Q-4 / AQM-35
Northrop XQ-4 in flight
Role Target drone
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
First flight January 1956
Retired mid 1960s
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 25


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 a Westinghouse XJ81-WE-3 turbojet, 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.


Twuav 01 05
Prototype of the RP-61 supersonic target drone.
Production target drones.
Developed to use 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.
Fitted with a much more powerful J85-GE-5 engine and a strengthened airframe. This variant was first flown in 1961.
Post 1962 designation of the Q-4 drone.
Post 1962 designation of the Q-4B

Specifications (Q-4/AQM-35A)

General characteristics

  • Length: 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 35.333 ft (10.77 m)
  • Wingspan: 11 ft 1 in (3.38 m)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 12.666 ft (3.86 m)
  • Diameter: 1 ft 8 in (0.51 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.69 m)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 6.167 ft (1.88 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,980 lb (898 kg)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 3,400 lb (1,542 kg)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 1x General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojet, 3,850 lbf (17 kN) thrust


  • Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,000 m)
Q-4B/AQM-35B: 70,000 ft (21,336 m)
  • Maximum speed: M1.55
Q-4B/AQM-35B: M2.0

See also



AQM or Aqm may refer to:

Active queue management, a technique for Internet routers that consists in dropping or marking packets before its queue is full

Abstract Query Model, a model for the structure and evaluation semantics of a query in JCR according to JSR-283; See Content repository API for Java

Air quality management, in environmental engineering

List of unmanned aerial vehicles

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

North American MQM-42

The MQM-42 was a supersonic target drone developed by North American Aviation (from 1967 North American Rockwell). Developed in two subvariants, Redhead and Roadrunner, it was used by the United States Army in the 1960s and 1970s.

Northrop Corporation

Northrop Corporation was a leading United States aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1939 until its 1994 merger with Grumman to form Northrop Grumman. The company is known for its development of the flying wing design, most successfully the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

USAF drone aircraft designations 1948–1962
Northrop aircraft
By role


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