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Ryan AQM-91 Firefly / Compass Arrow

Reconnaissance Drone

Ryan AQM-91 Firefly / Compass Arrow

Reconnaissance Drone

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The stealthy, reconnaissance-minded Ryan AQM-91 Firefly was also known under the name of Compass Arrow during its short time as a long-range reconnaissance drone.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1968
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Ryan Aeronautical / Teledyne-Ryan - USA
PRODUCTION: 28
OPERATORS: United States
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Ryan AQM-91 Firefly / Compass Arrow model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 0
LENGTH: 34.12 feet (10.4 meters)
WIDTH: 47.57 feet (14.5 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,803 pounds (1,725 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 5,512 pounds (2,500 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x General Electric YJ97-GE3 engine developing 4,000lbs of thrust.
RANGE: 2,001 miles (3,220 kilometers; 1,739 nautical miles)
CEILING: 78,740 feet (24,000 meters; 14.91 miles)




ARMAMENT



None.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• AQM-91 "Firefly" / "Compass Arrow" - Base Series Designation.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Ryan AQM-91 Firefly / Compass Arrow Reconnaissance Drone.  Entry last updated on 6/4/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Teledyne Ryan / Ryan Aeronautical produced the AQM-91 "Firefly" as a stealth-minded, high-altitude, photo-reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). Development began in the late-1960s with the design intended for use by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)as well as the United States Air Force (USAF) for secret over-flights of Chinese airspace - with particular interest given to its growing nuclear sites. First flight was in September of 1968. The product also carried the name of "Compass Arrow".

To fulfill the requirements, the Firefly was given an operational altitude of 78,000 feet with a mission endurance time of 4.5 hours and range out to 2,000 miles. Its onboard photographic equipment allowed for vast swathes of territory to be photographed from 15 miles up with detail providing clarity down to one foot. Externally, the UAS displayed a rather conventional aircraft-type configuration with swept-back wings, a twin-vertical rudder tail unit and central fuselage nacelle. The powerplant was fitted over the fuselage spine as a single General Electric YJ97-GE-3 turbojet engine of 4,000lb thrust. "Stealth" qualities were covered through angled surfaces, special body coatings and onboard electronics.

By design, the AQM-91 was intended for air-launching from a host mothership - this being a Lockheed DC-130E "Hercules" aircraft (a drone-controlling variant of the famous transport aircraft) - and thusly not fitted with its own launching facility. From there, the drone would have operated under its own power and self-guidance utilizing its onboard systems. However, a manual override function allowed for ground controllers to assume function as needed.

With some thawing of China-U.S. relations in the early 1970s, the aircraft no longer found a specific mission requirement within the CIA/USAF, this despite some 28 of the type completed (eight prototypes with twenty production-quality units). As such, the line never flew a single mission over Chinese airspace in its service life and was ultimately discontinued by 1973.

Ryan Aeronautical was founded in 1934 and became part of Teledyne (as Teledyne-Ryan) in 1969. In 1999, Teledyne-Ryan was absorbed under the Northrop Grumman brand label.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Ryan AQM-91 Firefly / Compass Arrow's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
28
28

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.