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.
Tyndall Air Force Base
A commercial pilot for Orlando-based Flight Express, a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio’s AirNet Cargo, is facing a maximum of 15 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty last month to operating an aircraft while under the influence on December 8 last year. Authorities said the pilot was flying with a blood-alcohol level six times over the legal limit for aviators on a trip between North Carolina and Tampa Fla., at the time of the incident.
On May 4 Boeing flew for the first time an F-16 that the company has converted for pilotless flight under the U.S. Air Force’s Full-Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) program. The flight took place at Cecil Field, near Jacksonville, Florida. A Boeing test pilot took the aircraft up to 41,000 feet during the 66-minute sortie.
For many years the U.S. Air Force has operated a fleet of surplus Phantom IIs as QF-4s in the full-scale aerial target role (FSAT). Under projected usage rates, that fleet will be consumed within the next few years. Now, the Air Force has taken the first step to providing a replacement. Not surprisingly, the type chosen is the Lockheed Martin F-16, the older variants of which are entering the boneyard in some numbers.