A Boeing/USAF public-private partnership team has completed conversion of the first QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target from a second line at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ – supplementing work already under way at Boeing’s Cecil Field facility in Jacksonville, FL, the company announced on 31 July. The aircraft was flown to Tyndall AFB, FL, where it will be used autonomously for future weapons training operations.

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan teamed with Boeing under a public-private partnership to create a second modification line. “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. “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 manoeuvres using the autopilot and controlled manoeuvres via ground stations.

The partnership between Boeing and AMARG is crucial to expediting capability to the warfighters,” said Craig DeMeester, Boeing QF-16 Program Manager. “It’s an example of great teamwork, and completing this first jet is just the beginning as we have more deliveries planned this year and well into next year.”

Boeing began converting retired F-16s into QF-16s in 2015. More than 120 aircraft are on contract to be modified, with over 40% delivered to date. (Photo: USAF/A1C Jacob T Stephens via Boeing)

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