QF-16 Flies with Empty Cockpit

The Air Force and Boeing completed the first unmanned flight of a QF-16 full-scale aerial target, announced the company on Monday. Two Air Force test pilots in a ground control station remotely flew the QF-16 during the Sept. 19 test mission at Tyndall AFB, Fla., states the company’s Sept. 23 release. The mission profile included auto takeoff, a series of simulated maneuvers, supersonic flight, and an auto landing, according to the release. “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,”, said Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, commander of Tyndall’s 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. Boeing is under contract to modify up to 126 retired, early model F-16s to the QF-16 standard for use as aerial targets in weapons testing and air-to-air combat training. They will succeed QF-4s in those roles. Boeing said it has produced six QF-16s so far. Last November, the first QF-16 destined for use in developmental testing arrived at Tyndall.