Boeing QB-47E Stratojet

Last revised January 3, 2003

QB-47E was the designation given to two B-47Es that were converted into prototype radio-controlled drones for use as targets or for other tasks deemed too hazardous to human occupants. Twelve more conversions were carried out by June of 1960.

The QB-47Es were equipped with control equipment, movie cameras, and other data collection equipment. They also carried ECM gear and chaff dispensers in order to make for a more realistic target during the tests. Just in case control of the drone was ever lost, explosives were carried so that the aircraft could be intentionally destroyed before it could wander into a populated area.

They were operated by the 3205th Drone Director Group at Eglin AFB between 1959 and 1960. Even though the QB-47Es were unmanned, they were generally considered as being too expensive to be treated as being expendable, and the guided missiles tested against them were usually programmed to make near-misses. Even in spite of such precautions, a QB-47E was inadvertently destroyed by a direct hit from a Bomarc missile.

Most of these drone aircraft were later destroyed during missile tests. Two survived to become JQB-47E for use in the testing of the Hughes AIM-47 long range air-to-air missile


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