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Boeing QF-16 (Fighting Falcon)

United States (2015)
Picture of Boeing QF-16 (Fighting Falcon) Unmanned Target and Training Drone

Boeing is converting a retired stock of Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters for the unmanned target drone role.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing QF-16 (Fighting Falcon) Unmanned Target and Training Drone.  Entry last updated on 5/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

QF-16 is the designation assigned to retired Lockheed Martin F-16 "Fighting Falcon" multirole fighters reconstituted as full-scale, unmanned drone aircraft. The QF-16 - converted through a Boeing-led program - succeeds the outgoing line of McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II" multirole fighters converted by BAe to become the "QF-4". The QF-16 series will be featured as an aerial target for training purposes as well as to develop new aerial doctrine and test new technologies.

Six modified F-16s currently make up the QF-16 fleet (as of 2015) and these currently serve the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (ATS) of the United States Air Force (USAF). Testing is done at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The existing F-16 airframe is outfitted by Boeing engineers with new equipment allowing for automated take-off and landing, preset maneuvers execution and high-speed, high-altitude flight. These ex-USAF aircraft - mainly F-16A and F-16C production models - carry the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200, -220 or -229 or the General Electric F110-GE-100 or -129 series turbofan engines offering afterburning capability which allows the fourth generation airframe to reach supersonic speeds and enter high agility movements to better represent modern air targets to be encountered by American airmen today. Additionally, the aircraft retains a full-working defensive suit which serves against incoming radar tracking and seeking air-to-air missiles - offering a greater challenge to the student pilot. Should the QF-16 become unresponsive to the operators or a danger near civilian areas its flight can be terminated in-air with the loss of the entire aircraft.

The QF-16 program has reached several milestones since its development began - it flew with an empty cockpit on September 23rd, 2013 to much publicity. In August of 2014 it was reported that the aircraft responded successfully to a ground-based missile live fire test. However, instead of directly targeting the unmanned aircraft with the missile (and risking its total loss), a Ground Control Station (GCS) sent the missile to a specific coordinate in the airspace near the QF-16 with the data collection system aboard the QF-16 validating that the missile did in fact reach the coordinates. After data comparison from both the GCS and QF-16, the missile was able to hit its "target".

Beyond the stated scope of the program, it is not out of the realm of possibility that data garnered from the QF-16 project will serve a full-sized unmanned fighter platform in the near future.

In April of 2016 it was announced that Boeing won a contract to manufacture an additional 30 QF-16 systems. The work is expected to be completed by April of 2018.

Any available statistics for the Boeing QF-16 (Fighting Falcon) Unmanned Target and Training Drone are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (901mph).

    Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing QF-16's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
126
126


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 2015
Type: Unmanned Target and Training Drone
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company - USA
Production: 126
Status: Active, In-Service
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing QF-16 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
0


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
49.21 ft


Meters
15 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
32.64 ft


Meters
9.95 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
16.01 ft


Meters
4.88 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
18,894 lb


Kilograms
8,570 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
42,329 lb


Kilograms
19,200 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200/220/229 OR General Electric F110-GE-100/129 afterburning turbofan engine developing 28,600 lb of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
901 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,450 kph


Knots
783 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,610 mi


Kilometers
4,200 km


Nautical Miles
2,268 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
50,000 ft


Meters
15,240 m


Miles
9.47 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
50,000 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
15,240 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None. Explosives carried should the air vehicle become unresponsive in flight.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• QF-16 - Base series designation; based on the General Dynamics / Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon airframe.