U.S. Air Force to shoot down its own F-16 (aerial target drones)

Jul 25 2013 - 9 Comments
By Jacek Siminski

As no Phantoms are left to be converted after the last one left the 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) based in Tuscon, Arizona to join the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, the role of aerial target (i.e. manned or unmanned aircraft flown as target and decoy within a controlled range for testing against potential adversaries, radars, surface-air missiles etc) is to be undertaken by the QF-16.

Although the F-16 is a famous Lockheed plane, the contract to develop the “Viper Drone” aerial target was awarded to Boeing.

The conversion of F-16 into a QF-16 takes about 6 months; 220 airframes are to undergo this treatment.

The first QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target took off from Boeing facility at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, and climbed to an altitude of 41,000 feet during its 66-minute first flight that marked its first manned flight.

The first F-16C destined to be shot down is an F-16C, 85-1570, serving in the Air National Guard of the New York state; by the way, the Air National Guard has been the largest “Viper” operator of the world.

Written with David Cenciotti

Image credit: Boeing

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  • OG_Locc

    Pretty amusing that these 200 targets make up a larger, more advanced air force, than all but 4 or 5 countries in the world. And we’re going to shoot them down. LOL

    • preferred user

      tell me it isn’t so! no wonder USA is broke!

    • ickinny booty

      Well before the Obaman Islanist Brotherhood takes over the U S A ,Might as well get rid of some of the weapomery, So it cannot be used against the whity population in U S A lol

  • Troy

    85-1570 is the first FSAT F-16 to be shot down, fortunately her sister 85-1571 (F-16D) is still flying strong with my squadron, in fact she flew twice today and came back code 1.

  • Deirki

    Why are the F-16s in line before the F-15s?
    And here’s another question, why don’t they produce cheap drones for aerial targeting rather than shoot down perfectly functional ones?

  • Gyoz

    What a waste… They should exchange these with the Japanese Phantoms so we could have a better Pacific presence before the F35 will be really operational.

  • ST0RM

    Actually your first line is incorrect. There are still several hundred F-4s at AMARC that could be converted, however the contract for them has expired. Additionally, the QF-4 is expensive to operate (2 engines = more fuel), so the F-16 was tapped as an relatively cheaper option. And there are a lot of them out there too with all of the retirements.
    Why the F-15 wasn’t considered? Too costly to operate as a QF (2 engines again) and maybe the cost to convert them was prohibitive.

    • Jacek Siminski

      Thanks i did it know it. All the sources said that after the last Phantom would be converted they would turn to F-16’s

  • jim

    Ten years ago I was at our remote microwave radio site in the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, CA. when I heard the approach of jet flying really low. I ran out of the building just in time to see an orange Navy QF-4 phantom jet flying really low and when it banked I could see right into the empty cockpit. It turned due east and climbed steeply to clear the 13,000 ft. Inyo Mts. It was most likely out of the China Lake Naval Air Station just 100 miles to the south.