Creating Target Drones

Boeing has converted six Lockheed Martin F-16s into QF-16 target drones and is on track to reach initial operational capability by the first quarter of Fiscal 2016, Boeing spokesman Lorenzo Cortez told Air Force Magazine. The QF-16s are presently performing test missions at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. As of now, the QF-16 is limited to line-of-sight operations, but Boeing is working to address those limitations. “We are presently completing flight tests of the QF-16 for the aerial target requirements. This includes a line-of-sight datalink, which meets those requirements” for longer range remote piloting, said Cortez. The Air Force contracted Boeing in 2010 to convert 126 retired F-16 Falcons into QF-16 aerial drones. (See also QF-16 Flies with Empty Cockpit.)