Ryan BQM-34 Firebee jet-propelled drone, used as a target drone

A target drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle, generally remote controlled, usually used in the training of anti-aircraft crews.[1]

One of the earliest drones was the British DH.82 Queen Bee, a variant of the Tiger Moth trainer aircraft operational from 1935. Its name led to the present term "drone".[citation needed]

In their simplest form, target drones often resemble radio-controlled model aircraft. More modern drones may use countermeasures, radar, and similar systems to mimic manned aircraft.[2]

More advanced drones are made from large, older missiles which have had their warheads removed.[citation needed]

In the United Kingdom, obsolete Royal Air Force and Royal Navy jet and propeller-powered aircraft (such as the Fairey Firefly, Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Sea Vixen used at RAE Llanbedr between the 1950s and 1990s) have also been modified into remote-controlled drones, but such modifications are costly. With a much larger budget, the U.S. military has been more likely to convert retired aircraft or older versions of still serving aircraft (e.g., QF-4 Phantom II and QF-16 Fighting Falcon) into remotely piloted targets for US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps use as Full-Scale Aerial Targets.[3][4]

Winston Churchill and the Secretary of State for War waiting to see the launch of a de Havilland Queen Bee radio-controlled target drone, 6 June 1941.

List of target drones

See also: List of unmanned aerial vehicles

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (July 2013)
QF-4E from the 82d Aerial Targets Squadron detachment at Holloman AFB, flying manned at a McGuire AFB air show in May 2007 with an A-10A in the background

Purpose built



  1. ^ "Avonds Scale Jets - Target Drones". Avonds.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  2. ^ "Target Drones". Vector Site. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  3. ^ "QF-4 Target Drone". learndrone.tech. Archived from the original on 2020-01-30. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  4. ^ "F-16 Versions - QF-16". www.f-16.net.
  5. ^ "meggittdefense.com". www.meggittdefense.com.