COMPASS COPE - YQM-94A/YQM-96A
COMPASS COPE was an Air Force competition to develop a high-altitude, long-range, remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) designed for long-endurance photographic reconnaissance and electronic surveillance missions. Piloted from the ground, the RPV received guidance signals through a radio link. A television and other electronic equipment aboard Compass Cope sent in-flight data back to the ground-based pilot. Unlike most RPVs, which are ground- or air-launched and retrieved in mid-air, Compass Cope was designed to take off and land from conventional runways.
The YQM-96A R-Tern (Model 235) Compass Cope-R was a Teledyne-Ryan high-altitude, long-range research vehicle designed for long endurance reconnaissance. It took off and landed on conventional runways. Only two were built. One set a world endurance record in 1974 of 28 hours and 11 minutes for unmanned, unrefueled flight.
The Boeing Aerospace Co. built the B-Gull YQM-94A in 1972 for a fly-off competition with the Teledyne-Ryan YQM-96A designed to meet the same specifications. The first prototype YQM-94A made its initial flight on June 1973, but was destroyed in a crash on August 4, 1973. The vehicle on display is the second prototype. It flew for the first time on Nov. 2, 1974. Later tests included a successful endurance flight of 17 hours 24 minutes at altitudes of more than 55,000 feet. After the USAF decided not to buy production versions of the Compass Cope vehicle, the remaining YQM-94A was retired to the USAF Museum in September 1979.
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