Home Aircraft / Aviation Naval Warfare Land Systems Small Arms

Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Despite it never seeing production, just under 1 billion USD was spent on developing the Lockheed Aquila UAV.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 8/1/2019
The MGM-105 Aquila (Eagle) TADAR (Target Acquisition, Designation and Aerial Reconnaissance) was the first United States Army attempt at securing a reusable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of conducting a range of mission types. The Aquila was originally developed as "Little R" by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company beginning in the 1970's. Army specifications called for a cost-effective system of small size able to provide the US Army with real-time aerial reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery observation and laser designation. Unfortunately for the Aquila - and the US Army and Lockheed itself for that matter - the MQM-105 became a bloated and expensive project that never lived up to expectations, forcing the entire development effort to be cancelled.

By 1974, Lockheed and the US Army had partnered for development of the new UAV. In December of 1975, flyable prototypes emerged as the XMQM-105A. By August of 1979, the US Army was fully onboard with the Aquila project and rewarded Lockheed with a contract based on the prototypes. The follow-up developmental model appeared in July of 1982 as the YMQM-105A.

The Aquila design fitted a swept-back wing to a flat fuselage shape housing the UAVs payload and engine. The engine was a Herbrandson Dyad 280B 2-stroke system delivering 24 horsepower to a pusher-type propeller system housed in the rear of the fuselage. On board systems included a fixed daytime TV-camera with an integrated autotracker. A laser designator was also included. A night-vision system utilizing FLIR was planned but never enacted. Communications was provided for via a datalink and video downlink. Performance from the piston engine allowed a top speed of 130 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 14,800 feet and an in-flight time of 3 hours.

Launching was accomplished via a catapult system mounted onto a truck while retreival was via an erected netting to catch the incoming Aquila upon return. Net height was adjustable to protect the vehicle's profile and the Aquila was fitted with infrared sensors that automatically brought led itself into the netting.

As may be expected in such pioneering efforts, the Aquila project met with its own inherent deficiencies. Several Aquilas were lost or damaged in crashes while the cost of the project seemingly ballooned with each passing month to go along with changing mission parameters.

The MGM-105 project was officially cancelled in 1987 despite nearly 1 billion dollars sunk into the project. Some 376 Aquila's were slated to be built. Lockheed was also considering an export version.


Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 1 Units ] :
Lockheed Missiles and Space Company - USA
National flag of United States United States (retired)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- Special Forces
- Unmanned
6.82 ft (2.08 m)
12.73 ft (3.88 m)
3.28 ft (1 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR production model)
Empty Weight:
265 lb (120 kg)
441 lb (200 kg)
(Diff: +176lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR production model)
1 x Herbrandson Dyad 280B 2-stroke piston engine developing 24 horsepower.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR production model)
Maximum Speed:
130 mph (210 kph; 113 kts)
Service Ceiling:
14,764 feet (4,500 m; 2.8 miles)
Maximum Range:
249 miles (400 km; 216 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila TADAR production model)
XMQM-105A - Prototye Designation
YMQM-105A - Developmental Model
MQM-105 "Aquila" - Proposed Production Model Designation
"Altair" - Proposed Export Sales Model

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes AnvilOfWar.com, GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-