September 24th, 2013
03:25 PM ET

No pilot! No problem: Pentagon uses mothballed jets for UAV training

The Pentagon is spending billions on unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones” so it’s understandable if military pilots feel like an endangered species.

And now there’s a new reason for pilots to worry.

Instead of designing UAVs from the ground up, Boeing is taking old mothballed jets and tweaking them so they can fly without a pilot.

Last week at Tyndall AFB in Florida, a pilotless F-16, for the first time ever, roared into the sky with an empty cockpit, according to Boeing.

The QF-16 the pilotless jet didn’t just take off, turn around and land. It climbed to 40,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico, broke the sound barrier and performed maneuvers like barrel rolls at more than 7Gs.

“It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, commander, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron.

Ryan’s unit will “fly” the QF-16 as a target to train live pilots who are learning how to engage enemy fighters. Those trainees will be able to shoot down the unmanned target jets, knowing there’s no one inside.

“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,” Ryan said.

You might think that shooting down an F-16 is a bit expensive for a target.

In 1998 dollars, an F-16 cost nearly $19 million. But 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.

Still some who have spent their lives flying the F-16 will miss the old “Fighting Falcon.”

“I love the F-16 and brag about it a lot,” said Jason Clements, a test pilot for Boeing. “Now to get something ready to take off on its own so somebody else can shoot it down makes it a little bittersweet.”

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Ana Studdiford

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusuf-hanafy-82493b183

    May 11, 2021 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  2. Pamala Kallenberger

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2004/07/blog-work-in-class-after-3-days-of.html

    May 10, 2021 at 1:51 am | Reply
  3. Ivette Lorentz

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs

    http://adolit.blogspot.com/2006/05/voices-of-immigration-beyond-sound.html

    May 9, 2021 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  4. Felix Sundholm

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2006/06/virtually-barnsley.html?showComment=1153095060000&m=0

    May 9, 2021 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  5. Best BB gun for kids

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.

    https://cybermed.cse.buffalo.edu/wiki/index.php/User:Miadare26

    May 5, 2021 at 3:49 pm | Reply
1 2

Leave a Reply to Window Cleaning Service Belcaro, Denver, CO


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.