The Al Quds UAV program began in late 1999 or early 2000 with various attempts at larger scale UAV’s however due to the scarcity of motors and parts in Iraq only subscale UAV’s were built and tested. One of these was the Al Quds RPV-20a.
The first Al Quds prototype, Quds-1, was 5-6 meters long and had a wingspan of 10-14 m. One source described the prototype as appearing “stealth” like but said radar cross-section reduction was not a goal of the program. Subsequent UNMOVIC photographs of later Al Quds prototypes reveal a faceted fuselage somewhat reminiscent of the US F-117A. Because of initial difficulties in obtaining servos and associated remote-control equipment, the initial prototype had a cockpit, flight controls and control, system for manned flight tests. Unspecified difficulties with the engine forced Dr. ‘Imad to abandon plans to conduct a manned flight test, and the jet powered Al Quds prototype never flew.
The difficulties with the initial Al Quds prototype, combined with a lack of wind tunnel facilities to test the designs, prompted Dr. ‘Imad to construct scaled-down versions of the prototype for open-air aerodynamic testing. According to an official at Ibn-Firnas, 10 subscale prototypes were produced for testing. The official further asserted that Dr. ‘Imad made a decision to focus on the smaller UAVs to compete with the Al Musayara-20 reconnaissance UAV being developed by Ibn-Firnas. These smaller subscale UAVs were the RPV-20a vehicles shown to UNMOVIC inspectors at Ibn-Firnas in early 2003.
The first test flight of the subscale prototypes took place in April or May of 2000. The first two subscale prototypes were fitted with landing gear and took off and landed from a runway. Subsequent prototypes were launched from the roof of a pickup truck and recovered by parachute. A high-level Ibn-Firnas official referred to these eight prototypes as Quds-1 through Quds-8 and did not acknowledge the jet-powered version described by other sources as “Quds-1.” However, there was no Quds-9, and the next aircraft in the series is the Quds-10 or RPV-30a.
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