Aircraft Engine Historical Society Members Only

The Lockheed MQM-105 Aquila Drone Power Plant
Narrative and Photos by Tom Fey Unless Otherwise Indicated
Published 24 May 2016

In late 2014 I received an email with two photographs from Graham White offering to gift me an unknown drone engine if I would pay for shipping. Graham called it a “mega buck engine” that he received from a friend several years ago. Eight days and ninety two dollars later I received a very interesting and unexpectedly rare piece of aeronautical history.

When I unwrapped the engine it became clear that this was a beautifully engineered, expensive-looking Quick Engine Change (QEC) unit for a pusher-type installation in an ellipsoid fuselage. The engine is an opposed twin cylinder configuration with a propeller 26 inches in diameter with a large generator attached to the rear of the engine. The entire QEC weighed 37.8 lb.

Fortunately the engine had a data plate that indicated the engine was for a Remote Piloted Vehicle (RPV) manufactured by Herbrandson in Lawndale, California to a “Design Activity” 4S500. A quick internet search turned up the Herbrandson Engines website and references to several RPV/UAV aircraft. The pusher configuration and shape of the QEC pointed towards the Lockheed/Army “Aquila” RPV. Further searching of the internet revealed the remarkable yet troubled history of the Aquila program.




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