The USAF has awarded Boeing a US$69.7m (A$76m) contract for the initial engineering, manufacturing and development of QF-16 full scale aerial targets.
The USAF requirement calls for up to 126 F-16s to be converted to QF-16 drones, with the aircraft being drawn from retired F-16A stocks. The first QF-16 is due to enter service from 2014, replacing a dwindling supply of QF-4s used as manned fighters or unmanned drones to support US flight test, evaluation and weapons programs.
Boeing says QF-16 design and development will take place in St Louis, while ground and flight testing and production will be completed at the Boeing’s at Cecil Field, Florida.
Boeing has teamed with BAE Systems on the QF-16 program.