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QF-16 reaches operational capability milestone

Lt. Col. Ryan Inman, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander, flies a QF-16 across the horizon May 12 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The QF-16 is a Full Scale Aerial Target that has been modified to be flown with a pilot in the cockpit for training and also without a pilot as a target for live missile testing. The 82nd ATRS received their first QF-16 in September of 2014 and will continue to transition their full scale aerial target program to the new model over the next several months. The 82nd ATRS operates QF-4, QF-16 and BQM-167 targets to provide manned and unmanned aerial targets support for programs across the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sara Vidoni)

A QF-16 flies across the horizon at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 12, 2016. The QF-16 is a full-scale aerial target that has been modified to be flown with a pilot in the cockpit for training and also without a pilot as a target for live missile testing. The 82nd ATRS received their first QF-16 in September 2014 and will continue to transition their FSAT program to the new model over the next several months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sara Vidoni)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air Combat Command declared initial operational capability for the QF-16 full-scale aerial target (FSAT) Sept. 23.

The decision was approved by Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the ACC commander, for the total of 15 QF-16s currently available for target operations. The jets are assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and flown by the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron under the 53rd Wing.

The 82nd ATRS operates the only FSAT capability in the Defense Department. In accordance with U.S. law, Title 10, Section 2366 of the U.S. Code, a missile system must undergo lethality testing before it can enter full-scale production. The 82nd ATRS maintains DOD’s sole capability to execute the Title 10 requirement through the FSAT program.

The QF-16 is the introduction of fourth-generation fighter capabilities in the aerial target mission. It maintains all inherent capabilities of the baseline F-16 Fighting Falcon including supersonic flight and 9 G maneuverability.

"This leap forward in airframe capabilities, combined with advanced electronic pods, will allow us to properly test and evaluate our fifth-generation aircraft and weapons," said Lt. Col. Matthew Garrison, the 82nd ATRS commander.

The newest aerial target will replace the QF-4 Aerial Target, which flew its last unmanned mission Aug. 17 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The QF-4 will officially be retired in December.

The 82nd ATRS is a geographically separated unit of the 53rd WG headquartered at Eglin AFB.

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