QF-16 Aerial Target completes First Pilotless Flight

Posted September 24, 2013 at 4:52pm

In a demonstration of the next generation of combat training and testing, Boeing and the U.S. Air Force recently completed the first unmanned QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flight. Two U.S. Air Force test pilots remotely flew the QF-16, a retired F-16 jet modified to be an aerial target, from a ground control station at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

The QF-16 mission included an auto take off, a series of simulated maneuvers, supersonic flight and an auto land, all without a pilot in the cockpit. The milestone flight initiates more operational evaluations including a live fire test near White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Boeing has modified six F-16s into the QF-16 configuration. Low-rate initial production is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter with first production deliveries in 2015. The Navy, Army and Air Force will ultimately use QF-16s for weapons testing and other training.

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