The Air Force and Boeing have completed the first unmanned test flight of the QF-16, an F-16 modified to be an unmanned aerial target.
Two Air Force operators controlled the jet from a ground control station during a Sept. 19 test run at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. The QF-16 will replace the QF-4, based on the old F-4 Phantom. The Air Force, Navy and Army want to use remote-controlled F-16s for weapons testing and training in the future.
The Pentagon has been interested in developing a test platform based on the F-16 in order to better simulate the types of aircraft nations around the world could now use against US forces.
“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,” Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, Commander, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, said in a Boeing press release. “Now we have a mission capable, highly sustainable full scale aerial target to take us into the future.”