Thursday, August 28, 2014

QF-16 nears LRIP

The Air Force next week will finalize the conversion of a fleet of F-16s into unmanned target drone aircraft by shooting one with an air-to-air missile fired from an F-15. The missile will not be armed with a warhead. It will mark the final test of the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the QF-16 target program. Boeing in March 2010 was awarded the contract to convert retired F-16 A and C models into QF-16 drones to replace QF-4s that use Vietnam-era F-4 Phantoms. The test will clear the way for low-rate initial production, the first batch of which will begin conversions in September in Jacksonville, Fla. LRIP 1 calls for 13 aircraft. The Air Force has identified a need for 210 QF-16s over the life of the program. In addition, Boeing is studying the suitability of using the F-16 as an operational unmanned air vehicle like the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper. (Source: Flightglobal, 08/27/14) Gulf Coast note: Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., has a growing fleet of QF-16s. Background: New drones a quantum leap, September 2013 newsletter