The Quail decoy was designed to be released from a B-52 bomber just before it attempted to penetrate the aerial defenses of the Soviet Union. Its job was to mimic the radar signature, speed, altitude, and maneuvers of the real bomber to give it a better chance to reach its target. The Quail entered service in 1961 and remained in first line service throughout the 1960s. In 1972, Air Force testing disclosed the fact that radar operators could easily distinguish between the drone and the real aircraft by correctly identifying the drone 21 out of 23 times. The Air Force quickly switched its focus to Air Launched Cruise Missiles to keep the bombers out of harm’s way and the Quail was quickly phased out of service.
The service history of this drone is not known. It was loaned to the Pima Air & Space Museum by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 1989.
U.S. Air Force, 1961
Pima Air & Space Museum
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