A team from Boeing and the U.S. Air Force completed the first QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target to undergo conversion from a modification line in Arizona.

The aircraft was flown last month to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where it will be used autonomously in future weapons training operations.

“The delivery of this first AMARG modified QF-16 aerial target drone is a testimony of the cooperative, synergistic relationship we had hoped for when we created the private-public partnership with Boeing,” said Col. Jennifer Barnard, Commander of the 309th AMARG.

“Though the installation of the drone conversion package is a relatively new venture for us, our hope is to leverage cost efficiencies and proficiencies benefiting both partners.”

Conversion of the F-16 A/C aircraft to the unmanned QF-16 configuration requires modification of the airframe and installation of major components. The QF-16 performs both autonomous maneuvers through autopilot and controlled maneuvers through ground stations.

Boeing began converting retired F-16s into QF-16s in 2015. More than 120 aircraft are on contract to be modified, with over 40 percent delivered to date.

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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_516566)
8 months ago

That’s just showing off. One hell of budget to stretch that far, lucky buggers

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_516568)
8 months ago

What we would give for even 10% of their budget.

David Barry
David Barry (@guest_516571)
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

That statement is just plaNe wrong… what we would have for 10% of their budget 😉

pkcasimir (@guest_516572)
8 months ago

These are retired F-16s taken out of the AMARG (Boneyard) at Davis-Monthan and are relatively cheap to modify into drones. About 120 will be converted into drones. There’s no “showing off” about it.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_516575)
8 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

Still costs to operate and maintain them though.

They are converting more planes into target drones than we have active in our whole air force.

Cam (@guest_516595)
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Not quite but not far off.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_516858)
8 months ago
Reply to  Cam

I was thinking in terms of active aircraft, as opposed to total inventory including the reserve/maintenance fleet.

But yeah, either way it’s a sad state of out air force. 8 squadrons.

Hoping that all 4 planned F35 squadrons will be in addition to the 7 Typhoon squadrons and not replacing any. Would get us up to 11 squadrons, still less than 2010 but better than it is now.

Cam (@guest_516596)
8 months ago

That’s all the old phantoms all blown to bits then is it? Crazy to think the the US still had pilots flying phantoms in the 2010s.

Gunbuster (@guest_516614)
8 months ago
Reply to  Cam

I think a couple of users are still flying them !

The Big Man
The Big Man (@guest_516651)
8 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Think maybe only Japan. 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron is now the sole user of the F-4EJ in the Air Defense Command, with their retirement scheduled in 2021. (Wiki)
And possibly Turkey.

Fedaykin (@guest_516734)
8 months ago
Reply to  The Big Man

F-4 Users remaining:
South Korea

AlexS (@guest_516683)
8 months ago
Reply to  Cam

You still have pilots flying B-52. With recent engine update it is probable B-52 reach 80 years old even 100.

Last was build in 1963. So at least 57 years now.

AlexS (@guest_516684)
8 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Sorry 1962 (FY 1963)