Boeing has received the first retired F-16 Falcon aircraft that it will convert into a QF-16 aerial drone for the US Air Force.

The USAF awarded a $69.7m contract to Boeing in March 2010 to begin the first phase of the QF-16 programme.

In the first phase, Boeing, together with BAE Systems, will begin engineering, manufacturing and development of the full-scale manned and unmanned QF-16 aircraft.

The drones will be used as aerial targets for newly developed weapons and tactics, and will replace QF-4s.

After the modifications, the QF-16 will be used as a prototype for engineering tests and evaluation before low-rate initial production.

The Boeing team will receive six F-16s in the development phase and will create up to 126 QF-16 drones by 2014.