Buffalo Hunter

Name given to U.S. reconnaissance drones flown over North Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s to collect tactical intelligence and strategic intelligence. These unmanned aircraft were launched
from airborne DC-130 Hercules cargo aircraft that remained over friendly territory; after their photo flight, the drones flew back to a location where they could be landed and have their film recovered; drones were reusable.

At the peak of the Buffalo Hunter operations, the drones made 30 to 40 flights per month over North Vietnam and adjacent areas of Indochina controlled by communist forces.

Although seven "Buffalo Hunter" unmanned reconnaissance drones were flown at treetop level to take photos of the Son Tay prison between early September and late October 1970, not a single drone actually suceeded in flying over the facility, forcing the Strategic Reconnaissance Center (SRC) at Offutt AFB, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, to use the SR-71 to provide the requisite imagery.  The POW camps were the highest priority for SAC's imagery assets (drone and SR-71) operating over North Vietnam at that time and the failure to image the Son Tay facility was deeply felt by SAC personnel.