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In March of 2015, Boeing delivered the Lot 1 production remote controlled QF-16 full scale aerial target (FSAT) drone to the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. "The United States Air Force's QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target provides the next generation of combat training and testing for our nation's warfighters," Boeing said in the description of the optionally unmanned target drones.
In March of 2010, Boeing received a QF-16 engineering, manufacturing, and development contract from the United States Air Force worth USD$69.7 million. Boeing already delivered six pre-production QF-16s as part of this contract and 120 more are expected to be delivered.
The new QF-16 aircraft is a modification of the Air Force’s retired F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter. They are designed to serve as a realistic FSAT for newly developed air-to-air weapons' developmental and operational testing by the United States and allied militaries in a safe and controlled environment. In other words, they are designed to provide a realistic simulation of the threats that are currently being used by enemy military. The aircraft is also equipped with flight termination and visual augmentation systems and is capable of operating in both a manned and unmanned mode.
The QF-16 target drones will be used by the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron to become stand-in jets for the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and the MiG-29 Fulcrum, which are jets that the Air Force may encounter if armed conflict against Russia comes to a head. United States Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Inman was excited to train with the drone. He said in a statement,
"It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around. It's a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target. Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target."
The Boeing Company is an American global designer and manufacturer of airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, and satellites. It also provides leasing and product support services to a multinational customer base. Boeing is among the largest global, is the second-largest defense contractor in the world based on reported 2013 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value.
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