Big Safari is a United States Air Force program which provides management, direction, and control of the acquisition, modification, and logistics support for special purpose weapons systems. The program itself receives some direction from National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). It is headquartered in Wright-Patterson AFB and has facilities at Hanscom AFB and Greenville, Texas. The program oversees, among other aircraft, the RC-135 and EC-130 aircraft as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. The Air Force has referred to Big Safari as a "rapid procurement force," which tests the fielding of new weapons systems, sensors, and platforms. By some accounts, the program has been operating since the late-1950s, when the BQM-34 Firefly drone was procured and evaluated. This effort led to the first operational unmanned reconnaissance vehicle, the redesignated Ryan Aeronautical AQM-34 Lightning Bug.
The program is still operational as of 2013.
- BIG SAFARI for National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA)
- The History of BIG SAFARI, by Col. Bill Grimes, USAF (Ret) ISBN 978-1480804562