Tuesday, September 24, 2013

QF-16 makes unmanned flight

QF-16 on unmanned flight.
Air Force photo
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A QF-16 drone made its first unmanned sortie at Tyndall Air Force Base last Thursday, officials said. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron and Boeing conducted the flight, the first step in a two year process to phase out the QF-4 Full Scale Aerial Target. A pilot performed all the normal preflight checks before climbing out of the cockpit and locking the canopy from the outside. Control was then turned over to Thomas Mudge, 82nd ATRS pilot controller, sitting in a control room on the opposite side of base. The QF-16 took off at 3 p.m. for an hour long sortie, conducting a series of simulated maneuvers and reaching supersonic speeds before returning to base and landing. The first QF-16 was delivered to Tyndall in November 2012 for operational and developmental testing to ensure their viability for aerial targets. (Source: Tyndall Air Force Base, 09/23/13) Background story: "New drones a quantum leap," Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Quarterly.