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September 23, 2013

Boeing QF-16 aerial target completes first pilotless flight

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force completed the first unmanned QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flight Sept. 19 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., demonstrating the next generation of combat training and testing.

 

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force have completed the first unmanned QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flight, demonstrating the next generation of combat training and testing.

Two U.S. Air Force test pilots in a ground control station remotely flew the QF-16, which is a retired F-16 jet modified to be an aerial target. The QF-16 mission profile included auto takeoff, a series of simulated maneuvers, supersonic flight, and an auto land, all without a pilot in the cockpit.

“It was a little different to see an F-16 take off without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, Commander, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. “Now we have a mission capable, highly sustainable full scale aerial target to take us into the future.”

The milestone flight initiates more operational evaluations, including a live fire test at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The Navy, Army and Air Force will ultimately use QF-16s for weapons testing and other training.

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.




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