|AQM-60 Kingfisher awaiting loading onto its B-50 mothership before a test of US air defenses.|
|National origin||United States of America|
|First flight||April 1951|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Developed from||Lockheed X-7|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Specifications[edit | edit source]
- 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: 113 nmi; 130 mi (210 km)
- Service ceiling: 98,000 ft (30,000 m)
References[edit | edit source]
- "Johnson, Clarence Leonard - National Aviation Hall of Fame". http://www.nationalaviation.org/johnson-clarence-leonard/. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Area 51 - Black Jets: A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, Bill Yenne 2014, p.95
- "The Lockheed X-7". http://www.456fis.org/LOCKHEED_X-7.htm. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
- Goodall and Goodall 2002, p. 106.
[edit | edit source]
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- Directory of US Military Rockets and Missiles
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