F-102 Drones

Last revised December 4, 1999

In 1973, there were nearly four hundred surplus F-102As in storage at the Davis-Monthan facility, most of them having recently been withdrawn from service with the Air National Guard. The Air Force decided to convert these planes into low-cost, supersonic target drones that could simulate the performance of enemy aircraft in aerial combat. In 1973, the Sperry Rand Corporation converted six of these airplanes into QF-102A piloted drones for use as flying targets in support of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle test program. Even though these aircraft were equipped with remote control electronics for operation from the ground, they retained conventional piloted controls for use in contractor-operated flights. The first flight of the QF-102A was made in March of 1974. QF-102As were assigned numbers beginning from 501.

Subsequently, Sperry converted 65 surplus F-102A aircraft under the *Pave Deuce* program as true remotely-controlled drones under the designation PQM-102A. In these aircraft, the pilot's seat and cockpit instruments were replaced by a set of remote control electronics, so that they could only be flown by remote pilots on the ground. These aircraft were to be used in anti-aircraft missile training. The first PQM-102A flew on August 13, 1974. Later aircraft were delivered in stripped configuration, with all redundant systems being removed in order to save cost. The first of these stripped PQM-102As was flown on February 17, 1977. They were numbered from 601 onwards.

The US Army acquired seven PQM-102As for use in evaluation of the Stinger and SAM-D (later named Patriot) surface-to-air missiles. Most of the remainder were used by the USAF at Tyndall AFB and Holloman AFB.

Sperry was awarded another contract in 1978 for the conversion of 66 more surplus F-102As to PQM-102B configuration. The PQM-102B differed from the A version by having remote control electronics in the nose instead of inside the cockpit so that piloted flight was possible. A contract for eighty more PQM-102Bs was issued to Goodyear. PQM-102Bs were numbered from 701 on.

The last PQM-102B (56-1072) was expended at Holloman AFB in 1986.


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