Graphite Epoxy Wing
(BQM-34E Target Drone)
Designed and developed by the Advanced Structures Technology Branch at NADC, in 1973 wing of this type became the first graphite epoxy structure to fly in the free world. The wing was constructed of and aluminum honeycomb core that is covered on both sides by a graphite epoxy skin. This landmark engineering effort set the stage for the widespread use of graphite epoxy materials on the Harrier (AV-8), the Hornet (F/A 18) and numerous other military and commercial aircraft.
This is one of two target drone wings of its type in existence. Of the four built one was lost as a result of an engine malfunction at the Pacific Missile Test Range. Another was destroyed during a direct hit during a training exercise at the Atlantic Fleet Test Range.
The use of lightweight and sturdy graphite epoxy resulted in a significant reduction in weight. As compared to titanium skinned wings common at the time, the use of graphite epoxy provided a weight savings of 54%!