E-Systems XQM-93A (L-450)

The USAF’s “Compass Dwell” program was an early-1970s evaluation of potential high-altitude long-endurance Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPVs). The goal of “Compass Dwell” was to develop an unmanned aircraft for data-gathering and as a communications relay with an endurance of at least 24 hours. One of the competitors for “Compass Dwell” was E-Systems with its L450F aircraft. It was based on the Schweizer SGS 2-32 sailplane, and was first flown in manned configuration in February 1970. After having been converted to an unmanned vehicle, the L450F was evaluated by the USAF in early 1972 under the designation XQM-93A. The modifications of the basic SGS 2-32, which were built into the L450F/XQM-93A, included a new Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engine, a new fixed landing gear and of course new electronic equipment. The unmanned XQM- 93A version replaced the pilot’s bubble canopy with a flush fairing, and had a more advanced autopilot installed. The XQM-93A was controlled from the ground by a radio command link, using telemetered flight data from the vehicle. The longest flight of the XQM-93A lasted more than 21 hours.

This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL.

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