HomeNewsArticle Display

Maintainers resurrect F-16s that will become targets

Kris Clark checks a technical manual as he replaces a gyro on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.  F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms.  Mr. Clark is an aircraft mechanic for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Kris Clark checks a technical manual as he replaces a gyro on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. Mr. Clark is an aircraft mechanic for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Garth Chitty pushes a toolbox to work on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. Mr. Chitty is an aircraft mechanic for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.  (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Garth Chitty pushes a toolbox to work on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. Mr. Chitty is an aircraft mechanic for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

David Peterson installs access panels on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.  F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. Mr. Peterson is an aircraft mechanic with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

David Peterson installs access panels on an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 30, 2010, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. F-16s are being converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. Mr. Peterson is an aircraft mechanic with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

A QF-4 drone sits on the flightline at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 30, 2010.  Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16 Fighting Falcons so Boeing specialists can convert them into drones to replace the QF-4.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

A QF-4 drone sits on the flightline at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 30, 2010. Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16 Fighting Falcons so Boeing specialists can convert them into drones to replace the QF-4. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

“Mothballed” F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked in the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16s so they can be converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

“Mothballed” F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked in the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16s so they can be converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

“Mothballed” F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked in the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16s so they can be converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

“Mothballed” F-16 Fighting Falcons are parked in the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Maintainers from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16s so they can be converted into usable manned or drone targets allowing Airmen to train and test new weapons platforms. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- Maintainers are towing F-16 Fighting Falcons out of retirement from the "boneyard" here July 29 and preparing them to become the Air Force's newest platform for target training. 

Specialists with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group are regenerating F-16s so they can be flown to a Boeing facility in Florida where they will be converted to QF-16 full-scale aerial targets.

Boeing officials received a $69.7 million contract from Air Force officials in March to convert up to 126 retired F-16s into QF-16 drones that can fly either manned or unmanned, according to a Boeing press release.

As part of the QF-16 program developmental phase, Boeing officials tasked 309th AMARG maintainers to regenerate six F-16s. The maintainers spent more than a year and a half, an average of about 80 days per aircraft, preparing the first six aircraft to fly to the Boeing facility. The first F-16 arrived in at the Boeing facility in April. The fourth is scheduled to fly out next week, while two are still in the maintenance phase.

"Once we pull the aircraft from storage, we remove all the panels to conduct our preliminary inspections," said Rob McNichol, an F-16 aircraft supervisor with the 309th AMARG. "We remove components so that we can get specialists such as nondestructive inspection members to find out if the aircraft is going to be airworthy. If it isn't, then there's no sense doing anything else to it, and we'll take it back to the desert."

Once an aircraft passes the initial inspections, it is further disassembled to refurbish, upgrade or replace components. A number operational checks and test flights are performed to ensure the aircraft is safe and ready for flight.

"We are regenerating these aircraft from purely storage to a fully-flyable, mission-capable aircraft," Mr. McNichol said.

Maintainers are converting F-16C models as well as older F-16A aircraft. Once converted, the QF-16s will replace the few QF-4s left in the inventory.

"We're running out of airworthy airframes, there's not that many more left," Mr. McNichol said. "The F-16 is a much lower radar picture which is much needed in modern warfare. Everyone is getting into smaller profiles, a smaller radar footprint, which is what the F-16 can give you; plus, it's a lot faster."

After modification to the QF-16 configuration, the six aircraft will serve as prototypes for engineering tests and evaluation prior to production, according to a Boeing press release. Deliveries of QF-16 drones are scheduled to begin in 2014.

"With the advent of the QF-16 program, we're giving the warfare a better active weapon system," Mr. McNichol said. "Even though these will be flyable by a pilot, once they go to the drone packaging they can do everything unmanned that they can do manned. They'll be used to test new weapons coming on board, looking at a very small radar signature. It's just the modernization of it, which we need to keep building and to become more technically advanced."



Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @USEmbassyPH: READ: Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and Commander, Pacific Air Forces, Visit Manila. @usairforce @PACAF #FriendsPar
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Thank you, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thang, for hosting today’s roundtable with Ho Chi Minh Nat’l Academy of Politics. We look f…
RT @AFSpace: #OTD in 1957 Lt. Col. David G. Simons, M.D., participated in the Manhigh II flight. The @usairforce used balloons to transport…
RT @AF_Falcons: .@AF_MSwim & @AF_WSwim took a summer trip through Europe staying on a @usairforce base for two weeks while visiting 4 diffe…
RT @AF_SBIR_STTR: About 20 or 30 companies will be selected to compete for up to $40 million at the Air Force Pitch Day for Space, planned…
RT @AFmuseum: Special thanks to TSgt.(Ret.) Richard Tung & his family for visiting! Tung was assigned to the 491st bomb group(h), 853rd Squ…
It's #NationalAviationDay! ✈️ #USAF has been a part of #aviation since its inception September 18, 1947. The… https://t.co/ESPaIUaJ1m
.@TeamEglin #Airmen drive innovation, increasing safety while saving money. https://t.co/xo30mkcHMg
RT @AFSpecOpsCmd: Callie is chillin’ with our CSAF 😎 @GenDaveGoldfein meets Callie, the only search-and-rescue dog in the @DeptofDefense,…
RT @AP_Top25: Secret's out on hard-hitting Air Force linebacker Kyle Johnson: He plans to attend graduate school, go through special forc…
Staff weather officers (SWO) from the 3d Weather Squadron were put to the test during a certification field exercis… https://t.co/wcGL2Dr2a1
RT @INDOPACOM: Man’s best friend is also his best protector, but even #MilitaryWorkingDogs need to retire eventually. The service members o…
RT @USAFHealth: Airmen with the 375th AES were headed to Travis AFB for a training mission, when a passenger on-board their commercial flig…
RT @AFW2: The @AFW2 just returned from the first-ever Warrior Care Event at USAFE! #Warriors are ready to repeat that sucess & build off th…
RT @USNationalGuard: On a frigid commute to work one morning, Master Sgt. John Lawrence, of the @OKGuard, approached a vehicle resting side…
RT @USAFRecruiting: Being a part of the @usairforce means to be a part of a total force. Join us LIVE on Wednesday at 2 p.m. CT to learn mo…
RT @PACAF: The closing ceremony for Pac Angel 19-3 #Mongolia brought together members from the U.S. military, Mongolian Armed Forces, @AusA
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Commander @PACAF Gen Brown & I just arrived in #Vietnam. What an honor to be here. We look forward to meeting Amb Krit…
RT @HQ_AFMC: Congrats to @HAFB for winning a @ENERGY award for #energy efficiency! From facility improvements to solar arrays, the teams at…