May 29, 2017
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Modified fighter
First unmanned QF-16 flight takes place

Recently the QF-16 full scale aerial target’s inaugural unmanned flight occurred. It is the first step in a two year process to phase out the QF-4 full scale aerial target. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron and Boeing conducted the flight.

A pilot performed all normal preflight checks before climbing out of the cockpit and locking the canopy from the outside. Control was then turned over to 82nd ATRS pilot controller, sitting in a control room on the opposite side of base. The QF-16 took off for an hour long mission profile including take off, conducting a series of simulated maneuvers and reaching supersonic speeds before returning to base and landing.

The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target modified from an F16 Fighting Falcon. The emergence of US 5th generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning means American forces need an advanced target, similar to what they would actually find on the battle field.

The first QF-16 was delivered to T
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