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BQM-106 Teleplane

Teleplane was a generic term that referred to the USAF Flight Dynamics Laboratory RPV project as a whole (FDL-33). Beginning in 1975, the USAF's Flight Dynamics Laboratory (FDL) designed and built the FDL-33 series of small experimental RPVs under the designation XBQM-106, sometimes called Teleplane.

XBQM-106 was just one of the vehicles developed during the Teleplane project (and the only one that had an official DoD aircraft designation.) Quite a few other configurations were built and tested, but the XBQM-106 was the one that was most amenable as a testbed for a variety of seekers and sensors, autopilots, control actuators, powerplants, aerodynamic features, and so forth. It had decent performance, was aerodynamically stable, had a significant useful load capability, and a wide allowable C.G. range. It also was relatively simple to manufacture and was used to evaluate a number of low-cost production techniques, principally the use of expanded polyurethane foam in various densities molded into both structural and non-structural components.

In the case of the structural components (wings, control surfaces, etc.), the urethane components were mixed during injection and expanded into molds that had had pre-installed composite skin surfaces, chiefly S-glass fiberglass with selected graphite reinforcement. This experiment had mixed results, since when foam density was low enough to make a component of acceptable weight it invariably had voids and other defects. Several non-structural components were successfully molded and used throughout the project, however.

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