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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Manned F-16 Fighter Begins New Life As An UAV, The QF-16

Boeing recently tested-flown an old F-16 aircraft with no on-board human pilot. Extremely cool video resulted.


As if to reassure people that it was indeed an unmanned flight, the camera solely focussed on where the pilot would earlier be seated. Besides serving as an aerial target, capable of simulating characteristics of 4th-generation adversary aircrafts, that pilots & Air Defence units can knock out off the skies during training, they are also to serve as a platform to test newer airborne weapons, both as target as well as launcher - will retain all fully functional weapon stations. A highly capable adversary simulator, it carried out a barrel rolls & manoeuvres imposing 7G forces here. Indicates robust control technology. Flight envelope should be expanded in due course of time. Besides ground-based controllers, the QF-16 is also envisaged to be flown wholly autonomously in future,

Boeing getting the contract to "unman" the F-16, despite its original manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, still being around makes sense. Experience. The US military presently uses the QF-4, a modified F-4 'Phantom II' aircraft, in the same role that QF-16 will later perform. Originally developed by McDonnell Douglas, Boeing acquired the company, & then went on to produce its remotely piloted version. Retired aircrafts put to good use. Noteworthy that the aircraft can be flown in, both, manned & unmanned modes. Some more details about Boeing's QF-16 programme.



Also Read: Unmanned variant of the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen combat aircraft in the future?