F-35 Targets Last Unmanned Phantom

The last unmanned QF-4 Phantom targeting drone flew as an F-35 target this month at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Manned Phantoms will continue to be flown through December, when the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron Detachment 1 will finish its transition to flying QF-16s, according to a 49th Wing release. The QF-4 was also flown at Tyndall AFB, Fla., but the last was shot down in May 2015. The 82nd ATRS has been flying the QF-16s since September 2014. The use of the modified F-16s “initiates the next chapter in advanced aerial targets, predominantly in support of more technologically superior air-to-air weapons test and evaluation programs,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, the former 82nd ATRS commander, in the release.