Type: Target drone
Agency: U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy
Contractor: The Ryan Aeronautical Company
Length: 28 Feet, 3 Inches
Diameter: 2 Feet, 2 Inches
Weight: 2,100 Pounds
Wing or Fin Span: 8 Feet, 10 Inches
Powerplant: J-69-T-6 Turbojet
Speed: Mach 1.5
Range: 200 Miles
Guidance: Radio Control
Firebee II was very similar to the Firebee I drone, except that it flew at much faster speeds. Numerous Firebee IIs were used by the three branches of the military to provide realistic target simulations for evaluation of weapon systems and training crews to operate those systems.
The Firebee II could be launched form the ground using a launch rail or carried aloft to altitude by an aircraft. Those carried by aircraft were dropped and allowed to fly through the target area, provided a target in the sky for another aircraft to shoot at with its guns or missiles. Ground units would also attempt to shoot down the fast moving drone with guns or other anti-aircraft weapons.
Those Firebees that survived could be safely recovered by deploying a parachute and floating softly to the ground. This reusability factor made the Firebee very economical for training as the vehicles could be used numerous times.
Most of the tests involving the Firebee II were carried out at the United States Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, California.