The final F-4 Phantom destined for conversion to a QF-4 aerial target drone recently entered the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group’s refurbishment line at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., according to the Desert Lightning News, the base newspaper. AMARG workers last month towed the RF-4C reconnaissance airframe from the base’s aircraft boneyard into a hangar in preparation for modification to its drone configuration, stated the newspaper’s June 1 edition. This final Phantom, serial number 68-0609, will become the 318th QF-4 drone supplied to the Air Force when it is delivered next January. Once this conversion is completed, the 576th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Squadron refit team will begin work on the Air Force’s QF-16 Falcon full-scale aerial target program, stated the newspaper. Davis-Monthan has 210 F-16s stocked for conversion, according to AMARG officials. From that pool, the Air Force will draw the airframes for its 126 planned QF-16 drones. The prototype QF-16 flew its maiden sortie last month.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.