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QF-16 drone arrives for testing, prepares warfighters for tomorrow's threats


TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group marked an important milestone in continuing to prepare the warfighter for tomorrow's threats as the first QF-16 drone arrived for developmental testing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 19.

"The work done prior to today and the test work that is forthcoming will enable the Air Force to transition from a 3rd generation, Vietnam-era aerial target performance to 4th generation threat replication and beyond," said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander.

The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target drone modified from an F-16 Fighting Falcon. At this time, the 53rd WEG uses QF-4s, made from 1960s F-4 Phantoms, to conduct their full-scale aerial target missions. The targets allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face on the battlefield.

"In the imminent future, the QF-16 will take air-to-air testing and evaluation to the next level," Wilkins said. "It will make our American and Allied aircrew, aircraft and weapons more reliable and more lethal. It will serve a new generation of warriors."

Boeing Global Services and Support will conduct testing on the QF-16, according to a Boeing press release.

The QF-16s will undergo approximately six months of testing to validate their capabilities and ensure compatibility with the Gulf Range Drone Control System, explained group officials.

Next, the aircraft will deploy to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., for approximately four more months of integrated testing. When all test milestones are complete, the aircraft will return permanently to the 53rd WEG to complete a transition period in order to achieve initial operational capability at Tyndall AFB.

The first production QF-16 is scheduled to be delivered in 2014.

As the Air Force prepares 5th generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the next battlespace, the group acts as a safety net to ensure our weapons capability is fully evaluated and understood prior to use in combat, said Col. James Vogel, 53rd WEG commander.

"It is a big day," Vogel said. "We are 100 percent behind the road to IOC for the QF-16."

The colonel added that the day was only possible with the work of many organizations, all involved Airmen at Tyndall AFB and all contractors.

The 53rd WEG, which falls under the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., provides the personnel and infrastructure to test and evaluate weapons utilized by the combat air forces of the United States and its allies. The group operates the only full-scale aerial drones in the Defense Department.





... comunicato da Boeing QF-16 takes flight


Don’t look now, but Boeing is flying F-16s; the QF-16 to be exact. As part of a U.S. Air Force contract, Boeing is modifying Lockheed Martin F-16s with specialized hardware and software packages that turn a F-16 Falcon into a QF-16 aerial target which, eventually, the Air Force will fly manned or unmanned within a controlled range. While the QF-16 still looks like a F-16, the performance and features are not the same. The modified F-16s will be higher-performing aircraft, representative of fourth-generation targets. The QF-16s are replacing the QF-4s that have been in use since 1997 by the U.S. Air Force’s 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla.

In May, a Boeing test pilot flew the first QF-16 at Cecil Field alongside a QF-4 chase plane. The 66-minute test flight validated basic aircraft performance and the QF-16 drone modification package..

Boeing won the $72 million contract in March 2010. In this initial phase of the contract, Boeing is performing pre-engineering, manufacturing and development to convert six F-16s into QF-16 aerial targets for the Air Force.

The Air Force will begin the next level of testing in Phase II of the contract at Tyndall Air Force Base in 2013. Boeing will support the initial flight testing at Tyndall then later at Holloman Air Force Base and at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. .


... qui un link ad un articolo sul programma QF-16s: Look Ma, No Hands!

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  • 9 months later...

Ha volato per la prima volta senza pilota ....




Boeing, USAF Complete First Unmanned QF-16 Flight ....


Boeing and the U.S. Air Force completed the first flight of an unmanned QF-16 aerial target from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on September 19.

Flown by two Air Force test pilots in a ground station, the modified Lockheed Martin F-16 reached an altitude of 40,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.47.

It performed aerial maneuvers including a barrel roll over the Gulf of Mexico while pulling more than 7Gs.


Fonte .... http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2013-09-23/boeing-usaf-complete-first-unmanned-qf-16-flight


The Boeing Company .... "On target: F-16 flies with an empty cockpit" .... http://www.boeing.com/boeing/Features/2013/09/bds_qf16_09_23_13.page

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