First QF-16 Arrives for Developmental Testing

The Air Force’s first next-generation QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target touched down last week at Tyndall AFB, Fla., for developmental testing, stated base officials. “In the imminent future, the QF-16 will take air-to-air testing and evaluation to the next level,” said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, Tyndall’s 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander, in a Nov. 20 base release. The QF-16 arrived at Tyndall on Nov. 19 with a pilot in the cockpit; QF-16s will normally fly via a remote pilot. The QF-16 prototype will undergo six months of trials at Tyndall with the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to ensure the airplane’s compatibility with the Gulf Range Drone Control System, states the release. Activities will then move to Holloman AFB, N.M., for four months of additional testing. The QF-16 will then return to Tyndall for the work-up to the full-scale target’s initial operations there. Boeing is under contract to convert up to 126 early model F-16s to the QF-16 configuration. These airplanes are slated to supersede the Air Force’s current QF-4 Phantom drone fleet. The QF-16 flew for the first time back in May. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first production QF-16 in 2014. (Tyndall report by Ashley Wright)