Unmanned QF-16 Gets First Test Flight

The first QF-16 test flight took off from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Sept. 19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Cruz)

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.”

The QF-16 during test flight. Notice the lack of pilot in the cockpit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. J. Scott Wilcox)

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta