Ryan Aeronautical photo archive traces development of combat drones from the factory floor to deployment in southeast Asia

Founded by T. Claude Ryan in 1934, part of Teledyne from 1969 and purchased by Northrop Grumman in 1999, Ryan Aeronautical company has designed, developed and built some of the most innovative and successful unmanned aerial vehicles, the most famous of those is the Ryan BQM-34 Firebee.

Ryan was a pioneer in aircraft, missiles and unmanned targets, and a photo gallery made available on Flickr by the San Diego Air & Space Museum archive provide a detailed account of the development of the early UCAVs (Umanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) from the desing phase, to the deploymnet in southeast Asia including some rare images of the early sketches, experimental types and testing activities with A-6, F-18 and F-4.

Below you can find a very small selection of images edited by Scott Mahew (thanks for the heads-up!).

The remaining +3,200 images (covering also the Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh, the ST, PT and Brougham series of aircraft) can be found here.

All images: Ryan Aeronautical via San Diego Air & Space Museum archive

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.