The US Air Force (USAF) has received the Lot 1 production QF-16 full scale aerial target (FSAT) drone at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.
Around 13 QF-16 targets are scheduled to be delivered off the drone peculiar equipment production line to the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron.
Eglin AFB test and training division director Michele Hafers said: "Today culminates five years of hard work and dedication beginning with a development programme, completing a rigorous test and evaluation phase that has ultimately led to the first operational delivery of the QF-16.
"We take great pride in this significant team achievement and are honoured to provide the warfighter with this enhanced capability."
The QF-16s are being delivered by Boeing under a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract.
Boeing already delivered six pre-production QF-16s as part of initial $69.7m QF-16 engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) contract awarded by the USAF in March 2010.
The QF-16 modification of the USAF’s retired F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter. It is designed to serve as a realistic FSAT for newly developed air-to-air weapons’ developmental and operational testing by the US and allied militaries in a safe and controlled environment.
The supersonic, reusable drone is capable of operation in either manned or unmanned modes, the supersonic.
It is equipped with flight termination and visual augmentation systems to realistically replicate fourth-generation threats like the Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum or Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters.
The drone is scheduled to replace the USAF’s existing BAE Systems-built Q4-F fleet, as the next generation representative aerial target, with missions that encompass manned combat training profiles and unmanned live-fire threat scenarios at Tyndall AFB, and Holloman AFB in New Mexico, US.
Image: Maintainers begin post-flight checks on the first Lot 1 production model QF-16 target after it arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy photo.