In the U.S., work began on the conversion of fighter F-16 «Fighting Falcon» (Fighting Falcon) in unmanned target fourth generation QF-16. The program targets the creation of the new QF-16 based on the F-16 is connected with the need to move from air targets third generation applied USAF still in the era of the Vietnam War, to air targets 4th generation that can mimic modern air targets.
First fighter officially converted into a full-scale aerial target QF-16 was the F-16C (serial number 85-1455).
Target QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target made on the basis of the modification of the F-16 «Fighting Falcon.»
To this day, the U.S. Air Force used aerial target QF-4, made on the basis of the F-4 «Phantom» development of the 1960s. These targets allow the U.S. Air Force and its allies pose a real traffic situation for training of flight personnel in theater.
In the near future, the target QF-16 will be used in combat missions castings class «air — air».
In the long term target QF-16 will be used to increase the combat training fighter pilots 5th generation F-22 and F-35 for action in future theaters.
It is planned to convert to a target of 210 F-16 fighters. Work for the conversion will be carried out at the production facilities 309th Aviation Group of cosmic maintenance AMRG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group), which will be able to once a year to deliver 22 aircraft target.
All F-16s started to be converted into air targets were previously decommissioned Air Force and were stored from 3 to 12 years. Initially, each fighter for about 180 days will be brought to flying condition, and then delivered to the airfield Cecil Field (Cecil Field) in Jacksonville (Fla.), where the company «Boeing» will set him avionics air target QF-16.
Agreement on the transformation of the F-16 in the target QF-16 was issued to «Boeing» in 2010, then in November 2012, the first target QF-16 was delivered to the U.S. Air Force base Tyndall (Tyndall) in Florida and transferred to the 53rd to the evaluation of aviation weapons WEG (Weapons Evaluation Group) for testing.
Implementation of all programs from the conversion of F-16 aircraft in the target lasts until 2021.