The Air Force’s QF-16s are putting F-35s to the test at Edwards AFB, Calif., by jamming the fifth generation jet’s radar in preparation for initial operation test and evaluation, which starts next year. Three QF-16s, which can be flown unmanned as full-scale aerial targets or manned for training purposes, from Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Holloman AFB, N.M., recently flew to Edwards to prepare for the F-35’s testing. The aircraft were flown by pilots from the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, according to an Air Force release. “We’re preparing for initial operational test and evaluation that starts next year,” Matt Feringa, the F-35 Joint Operational Test Team senior tactical systems analyst, said in the release. “Part of the QF-16’s mission is to carry airborne radar jamming pods. We flew F-35s with them as part of our test design development and to preliminarily evaluate the F-35 against those jamming pods.” The QF-16s arrived in late April and flew for two weeks.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.