HATS BQM-34 at White Sands

In December 2023, Bryan Wilburn visited the 'Missile Park' at the White Sands Missile Range Museum. He identified a new Firebee as a unique example: the Model 336 HATS used for laser tests. Bryan supplied the following comments with his photo report:

The Model 336 'High Altitude Target Skylite' (HATS) started out as a Navy BQM-34S. It flew with two sensor disks under the wings. 'Firebees and other UAVs' indicates the disks were 53" across with 300 sensors on each disk. The sensors were encased in 2 1/2" thick units, covered in gold coated aluminium. The book also mentions 31" diameter discs, and indicates that several target aircraft were in a flight ready status at the time the book was published in 1992. The only flight documented in the book was on July 23, 1990 where the vehicle reached 50,000 feet.

Bryan made the following notes to go with the photos (numbering goes left to right, top to bottom):

Some more notes:

I was puzzled by the two disc diameters mentioned in 'Firebees and other UAVs'. A simple sketch with both discs showed that the 53" disc matched the top photo in the book (page 141), although the caption says they are 31". But the smaller photo at the bottom of the same page seems to show a much smaller disc, half hidden in the brush of the landing spot. Likely both disc sizes were used. Another puzzle is that the large photo in the book (page 141) shows the 53" disc, but the sensor area is roughly 42" in diameter, not 31" as mentioned in the text.

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