Turning F-16s Into Drones Just To Shoot Them Down Makes A Lot Of Sense

Yesterday, we reported on the successful test flight of a converted F-16 Falcon into a drone on a Florida Air Force Base last week.

Some in the comments remarked that is was a waste of government spending to use a perfectly good F-16 as target practice.

Not so fast, says CNN’s defence blog, Security Clearance:

…this wasn’t a jet pulled out of service just to be shot down. It’s been mothballed in the Arizona desert for 15 years. All the planes that will be converted into pilotless fighter targets will come from the Air Force’s long-term storage.

The blog does not say how much it costs to convert the aircraft into drones, but it’s notable that the platform itself was rescued from the scrap yard, and would not otherwise be used for anything.

Repurposed as a training aircraft, the QF-16 drones give American fighter pilots a previously unattained ability to train the way they fight. With this technology, pilots can engage actual fighter aircraft that have the look, capabilities, and behaviour of enemy aircraft.

Boeing says it has retrofitted six of the F-16s into drones. We’ll follow this program as it develops.

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