The Army's first major Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) acquisition was the Aquila program. This program was started in 1979 and was originally estimated to cost $123 million for a 43-month development effort, followed by planned expenditures of $440 million for procurement of 780 air vehicles and associated equipment.
The original mission for the Aquila was have been relatively straightforward: It was to be a small, propeller-driven aircraft (portable by four soldiers) that could provide ground commanders with real-time battlefield Information about enemy forces located beyond the line of sight of ground observers. Aquila was expected to fly by autopilot, carry sensors to locate and identify enemy point targets in day or night, use a laser to designate the targets for the Copperhead artillery projectile, provide conventional artillery adjustment, and survive against Soviet air defenses.
The experimental prototype XMQM-105 was first flown on December 1975. During operational testing in 1987, Aquila was only able to successfully to meet mission requirements on 7 of 105 flights. The Army abandoned the program in 1987 due to cost, schedule and technical difficulties.
This program may have failed but it also led to further development of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that are in use today. This MQM-105 Aquila
mock-up was donated to the AF Armament Museum by the Air Force Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab stationed at Eglin AFB, FL on 08 July 2003.
Manufacturer Lockheed Missile and Space Company
Thrust One — Herbrandson 280B two-stroke piston engine rated at 24 hp with a 2 foot 2 inch pusher propeller
Length 6 ft 10 in
Wing span 12 ft 9 in
Weight 265 lbs Empty / 331 lbs Max
Speed 130 mph Max/ 80 mph Cruise with an average endurance of 3.5 hours
Ceiling 14,800 ft
Guidance System Programmable with radio control backup
Launch Scheme Hydraulic catapult
Recovery Scheme Net or Parachute
Payload Day/Night Imager and Laser Designator
This drone is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force