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Posted: 11/20/2012 2:36:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 5:56:26 PM EST by KA3B]
QF-16 arrives for testing, advances 53rd WEG mission


The first QF-16 arrives at Tyndall escorted by a QF-4 Nov. 19.
The QF-16 will undergo developmental testing by Boeing and eventually become part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group.
The QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target drone modified from an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
At this time, the group uses QF-4s, made from 1960s F-4 Phantom, to conduct their full-scale aerial target missions.
The targets allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face on the battlefield.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Cokeing)



http://www.tyndall.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/2012/11/121119-F-KA160-010.jpg
http://www.tyndall.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/2012/11/121119-F-KA160-025.jpg
Click on links for large image


Posted 11/20/2012
by Ashley M. Wright
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/20/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. –– The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group marked an important milestone in continuing to prepare the warfighter for tomorrow's threats as the first QF-16 drone arrived for developmental testing Nov. 19.

"The work done prior to today and the test work that is forthcoming will enable the Air Force to transition from a 3rd generation, Vietnam-era aerial target performance to 4th generation threat replication and beyond," said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander.


http://www.tyndall.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123327207
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 2:57:22 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 3:02:05 PM EST by cmjohnson]
I think it's really weird that we'd be using currently in service types for both combat and target practice.

More interesting, it's an early C model.

Airframe 85-1569, tail marked as 85-569, is an F-16C Block 30, GE powered, delivered to the USAF on 30 May 1987.
(My 18th birthday, by sheer coincidence.)

It has served with the 14th, 63rd, 174th, and 138th squadrons in operational and training roles. It went to AMARC
on 12 March 2010.

Source:

http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-16/airframe-profile/1925/




I'm kind of surprised that they didn't kick off the QF16 program with the considerably more obsolete A and B models.

Using a C model to start seems kind of odd to me. Why not start with the older models first?


Link Posted: 11/20/2012 3:16:01 PM EST
I saw it in the pattern yesterday.

Best looking Lawn Dart I have ever seen.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 3:18:14 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 3:19:12 PM EST by Shung]
They say "re-usable"

What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 3:23:15 PM EST
Re-usable in the sense that it will fly many times before they finally decide that it's time for some pilot to actually
fire a live missile at it and the shot happens to be a good one.

QF drones typically are used in many training missions before their number is up and they get the hot lead treatment.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 3:36:32 PM EST
I bet this target returns more times than the 22's shooting at it.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:51:53 PM EST
Originally Posted By Shung:
They say "re-usable"
What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?


Not every Q-Bird is a live fire exercise.

Some missions use captive missiles, the electronics (range or internal) do the work.
Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).


Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage.

Sometimes the Q-Bird is used as a missile launch platform, sometimes it is used as a live-fire target tug, sometimes it's used for electronic warfare training.




Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:54:21 PM EST
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Originally Posted By Shung:
They say "re-usable"
What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?


Not every Q-Bird is a live fire exercise.

Some missions use captive missiles, the electronics (range or internal) do the work.
Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040513-F-0000W-010.jpg
Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage.

Sometimes the Q-Bird is used as a missile launch platform, sometimes it is used as a live-fire target tug, sometimes it's used for electronic warfare training.






Is that a MIG 29 in the background?
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:56:10 PM EST
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Originally Posted By Shung:
They say "re-usable"
What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?


Not every Q-Bird is a live fire exercise.

Some missions use captive missiles, the electronics (range or internal) do the work.
Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040513-F-0000W-010.jpg
Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage.

Sometimes the Q-Bird is used as a missile launch platform, sometimes it is used as a live-fire target tug, sometimes it's used for electronic warfare training.






More interested in those tailfins protruding above the right wing. Red star, looks like a Mig-29?
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:00:17 PM EST
Are they controlled via a remote station? Fly according to preprogrammed instructions?
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:02:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By Frank_The_Tank:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Originally Posted By Shung:
They say "re-usable"
What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?


Not every Q-Bird is a live fire exercise.

Some missions use captive missiles, the electronics (range or internal) do the work.
Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040513-F-0000W-010.jpg
Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage.

Sometimes the Q-Bird is used as a missile launch platform, sometimes it is used as a live-fire target tug, sometimes it's used for electronic warfare training.






More interested in those tailfins protruding above the right wing. Red star, looks like a Mig-29?


Shape of the tail makes it a 29 for sure
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:13:47 PM EST
I was SO hoping the F-4 in the photo was there to shoot it down. THAT would have made my day.

Having said that, WTF are we blowing up newish C models for?!
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:14:29 PM EST
Originally Posted By Shung:
Originally Posted By Frank_The_Tank:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Originally Posted By Shung:
They say "re-usable"
What does that mean ? Do they tow targets instead of being shot at ?


Not every Q-Bird is a live fire exercise.

Some missions use captive missiles, the electronics (range or internal) do the work.
Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/040513-F-0000W-010.jpg
Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage.

Sometimes the Q-Bird is used as a missile launch platform, sometimes it is used as a live-fire target tug, sometimes it's used for electronic warfare training.






More interested in those tailfins protruding above the right wing. Red star, looks like a Mig-29?


Shape of the tail makes it a 29 for sure


100% correct...Wonder what its doing there though.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:14:58 PM EST
why are there not more videos like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xISpZYajveA


Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:16:20 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:53:41 PM EST
Originally Posted By TinLeg:
Are they controlled via a remote station? Fly according to preprogrammed instructions?


Depends on the mission.
Sometimes they are manned, sometimes they are not.

The Navy used to call unmanned missions "NOLO" (No Onboard Live Operator).

We have a member of the USAF here who, if he would look at this thread, could tell you all about the mission and operation of the Q-Birds of the USAF.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:54:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 5:55:33 PM EST by KA3B]
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:
100% correct...Wonder what its doing there though.


Google up "Tyndall MiG-29".

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:59:50 PM EST
Saw one of the QF-4's a couple of weeks ago over Barksdale!
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:01:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 6:06:27 PM EST by 2A373]
Don't know what it is for, but it is far from flyable.

This is it.


Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:03:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By 2A373:
Don't know what it is for, but it is far from flyable.
This is it.
http://img827.imageshack.us/img827/3449/522681092076038.jpg


It's exactly doing what it's for, sitting on the ramp during an airshow.

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:06:19 PM EST
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:12:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


I don't see anything but a Sabre in that pic.
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:20:41 PM EST
Originally Posted By sabre_kc:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


I don't see anything but a Sabre in that pic.


i noticed the corsair II first.

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:21:05 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 6:21:50 PM EST by Infallible]
Originally Posted By sabre_kc:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


I don't see anything but a Sabre in that pic.


I see a corsair


eta beaten
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 6:24:20 PM EST
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


And another at the Pima Museum in Tucson, AZ. Just saw it there this past Saturday.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:06:46 AM EST
Does anyone have any information on how Q jets pull the targets in live fire exercises as target tugs?

Are they piloted or remotely operated? Is the target just a stabilized target at the end of a cable? How often do these target tugs get hit during these live fire exercises? I'm not sure I'd want to pilot a jet pulling a target being shot by cannon or even dummy missiles.

And when the Q's are being used with live missiles carrying dummy warheads (like the QF-4 being repaired above), is that as a piloted jet? Seems like that QF-4 was pretty close to taking the dummy warhead up the nozzle, which can't be good news for continued controlled flight.

I am fascinated by this. Neat program. I always thought that Q jets were tested as remotely piloted drones and then immediately shot down in live fire exercises. Learn something new every day.

Corey
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:13:38 AM EST
...Some missions use live missiles with dummy warheads, if the missile gets "close enough" it's considered to be a hit (or a kill).
...Here's a photo of a QF-4 that took a dummy missile in the tail, the guys are repairing the damage...

I suppose that ended any discussion of what "close enough" actually was for that engagement!

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:18:27 AM EST
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:28:36 AM EST
Originally Posted By JustinOK34:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


And another at the Pima Museum in Tucson, AZ. Just saw it there this past Saturday.

http://www.ar15.com/media/viewFile.html?i=44578


WTF with those canopies ?
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:33:52 AM EST
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:
I was SO hoping the F-4 in the photo was there to shoot it down. THAT would have made my day.

Having said that, WTF are we blowing up newish C models for?!


Because if they are sitting at AMRC they are no longer serviceable aircraft. Most likely they have been over-G'ed and aren't suitable to play grabass any more.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:34:36 AM EST
Originally Posted By Shung:
Originally Posted By JustinOK34:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


And another at the Pima Museum in Tucson, AZ. Just saw it there this past Saturday.

http://www.ar15.com/media/viewFile.html?i=44578


WTF with those canopies ?


Glorious Soviet canopy construction can't survive the Arizona sun?
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:39:06 AM EST
Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
Originally Posted By Shung:
Originally Posted By JustinOK34:
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Here's its sister at NAS Fallon.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5234/5827369038_59f6bcace0_z.jpg


And another at the Pima Museum in Tucson, AZ. Just saw it there this past Saturday.

http://www.ar15.com/media/viewFile.html?i=44578


WTF with those canopies ?


Glorious Soviet canopy construction can't survive the Arizona sun?


Canopy removed to use as a spare or to shield from damage. What you are seeing is the shrink wrap they use out there.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:48:50 AM EST
Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I think it's really weird that we'd be using currently in service types for both combat and target practice.

More interesting, it's an early C model.

Airframe 85-1569, tail marked as 85-569, is an F-16C Block 30, GE powered, delivered to the USAF on 30 May 1987.
(My 18th birthday, by sheer coincidence.)

It has served with the 14th, 63rd, 174th, and 138th squadrons in operational and training roles. It went to AMARC
on 12 March 2010.

Source:

http://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/F-16/airframe-profile/1925/




I'm kind of surprised that they didn't kick off the QF16 program with the considerably more obsolete A and B models.

Using a C model to start seems kind of odd to me. Why not start with the older models first?






Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:53:19 AM EST
Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
Re-usable in the sense that it will fly many times before they finally decide that it's time for some pilot to actually
fire a live missile at it and the shot happens to be a good one.

QF drones typically are used in many training missions before their number is up and they get the hot lead treatment.


This. A guy I know that was with WEG just retired a few months back, he was still flying the QF-4s fairly regularly from what I can tell.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:02:40 AM EST



I'm kind of surprised that they didn't kick off the QF16 program with the considerably more obsolete A and B models.

Using a C model to start seems kind of odd to me. Why not start with the older models first?




Motors - The F-100-220s in As and Bs were rode hard and put away. Its been 6 years or so since I worked Drones, but rebuilding a 220 to make an A into a drone was almost as expensive as the conversion process itself. Additionally the As and Bs do not have the carriage capacity (cant carry various drone wing packages).

I am happy to see this program progressing. In 2006 I had this program POMed for, only for the AF to defer the program for a few more years. I still know most of the folks who work this program and indeed it is the next in the line. I will definately be sad to see my Phantoms go, but they're almost all gone. AMARG might be full of C's, D's, and Navy F-4s, but those models have lots of corrosion/structure problems that preclude drone conversion.

Using the F-16 also opens up the pool of pilots for the drone community. There are hardly any pilots left who can operate the F-4, yet there are thousands of F-16 drivers.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:18:26 AM EST
Originally Posted By KA3B:
Originally Posted By 2A373:
Don't know what it is for, but it is far from flyable.
This is it.
http://img827.imageshack.us/img827/3449/522681092076038.jpg


It's exactly doing what it's for, sitting on the ramp during an airshow Satellite overflight.



FIFY
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:20:42 AM EST
F-16 is one of my fav all time aircraft.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:25:25 AM EST

Originally Posted By HommieDaKlown:
why are there not more videos like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xISpZYajveA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xISpZYajveA


Best part of that video starts at about the 4 minute mark. That part was bad ass.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 4:15:20 PM EST

Originally Posted By warpusher:



I'm kind of surprised that they didn't kick off the QF16 program with the considerably more obsolete A and B models.

Using a C model to start seems kind of odd to me. Why not start with the older models first?




Motors - The F-100-220s in As and Bs were rode hard and put away. Its been 6 years or so since I worked Drones, but rebuilding a 220 to make an A into a drone was almost as expensive as the conversion process itself. Additionally the As and Bs do not have the carriage capacity (cant carry various drone wing packages).

I am happy to see this program progressing. In 2006 I had this program POMed for, only for the AF to defer the program for a few more years. I still know most of the folks who work this program and indeed it is the next in the line. I will definately be sad to see my Phantoms go, but they're almost all gone. AMARG might be full of C's, D's, and Navy F-4s, but those models have lots of corrosion/structure problems that preclude drone conversion.

Using the F-16 also opens up the pool of pilots for the drone community. There are hardly any pilots left who can operate the F-4, yet there are thousands of F-16 drivers.


OK. Sounds reasonable.

I'm just thinking that any C model could PROBABLY still be useful today, although only the ones that went thru MLU would be likely to see
continuing service. Given the incredible cost escalation of the F-35, combined with the current political climate, I'm not so sure that it's really
a great idea to be shooting down F-16s which may be the AF's only reasonable alternative to go to if the F-35 ends up under-procured.

Granted, a Block 30 is hardly state of the art, but for a fraction of the cost of an F-35, any C model should be able to be updated to the latest Block standards,
if not 60/70 then at least 52+.

When you just don't have the budget for Rolls Royces, you may have to settle for Cadillacs. That could be tough if you already shot down your entire
reserve fleet of Caddys.

But that's OK, Lockmart would of course be glad to just build new 16s. The line is still in full production and should run until at least 2015 on current order fulfillment.

CJ
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 5:41:00 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/21/2012 5:42:22 PM EST by FlyingGorilla]
Originally Posted By warpusher:



I'm kind of surprised that they didn't kick off the QF16 program with the considerably more obsolete A and B models.

Using a C model to start seems kind of odd to me. Why not start with the older models first?


Motors - The F-100-220s in As and Bs were rode hard and put away. Its been 6 years or so since I worked Drones, but rebuilding a 220 to make an A into a drone was almost as expensive as the conversion process itself. Additionally the As and Bs do not have the carriage capacity (cant carry various drone wing packages).

I am happy to see this program progressing. In 2006 I had this program POMed for, only for the AF to defer the program for a few more years. I still know most of the folks who work this program and indeed it is the next in the line. I will definately be sad to see my Phantoms go, but they're almost all gone. AMARG might be full of C's, D's, and Navy F-4s, but those models have lots of corrosion/structure problems that preclude drone conversion.

Using the F-16 also opens up the pool of pilots for the drone community. There are hardly any pilots left who can operate the F-4, yet there are thousands of F-16 drivers.


The big issue with not converting the older F-4s into drones is more than structural issues. The older Phantoms do not have the digital navigation system which all the F-4Gs and many F-4Es and RF-4Cs were equipped with. The F-4 drone package took advantage of the autopilot coupled to the nav system to fly the aircraft.

The older Phantoms' nav systems could only drive steering indicators for the pilot of follow. It was not possible to build a low-cost drone control package to take the place of the older nav systems to enable an older Phantom to be flown the way the newer Phantoms could be flown as drones.

QF-4s were the first highly maneuverable drone thanks to the availability of the digital nav equipped planes. The QF-16 program will build on the baseline of the QF-4 and should almost be able to do realistic defensive maneuvering when it's flying as a target.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:02:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By Corey:
Does anyone have any information on how Q jets pull the targets in live fire exercises as target tugs?

Are they piloted or remotely operated? Is the target just a stabilized target at the end of a cable? How often do these target tugs get hit during these live fire exercises? I'm not sure I'd want to pilot a jet pulling a target being shot by cannon or even dummy missiles.

And when the Q's are being used with live missiles carrying dummy warheads (like the QF-4 being repaired above), is that as a piloted jet? Seems like that QF-4 was pretty close to taking the dummy warhead up the nozzle, which can't be good news for continued controlled flight.

I am fascinated by this. Neat program. I always thought that Q jets were tested as remotely piloted drones and then immediately shot down in live fire exercises. Learn something new every day.

Corey


The QF-4s occasionally tow a target sleeve- this is for aerial gunnery training and the aircraft is manned. The target is a banner at the end of a cable, so the aircraft *should* be clear of any rounds, barring substantial buffoonery by the shooter. There are also Learjets which get target tug duties under contract from the US Navy.

For any missile shots, the aircraft is flown unmanned ("NULLO - Not Under Live Local Operator" in target-speak). As noted, the aircraft typically make many sorties manned and even unmanned before being shot down. A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile. The aircraft is equipped with equipment which allows the missile's approach to the target to be measured in detail, "scored" if you will. Ground and sometimes airborne receivers record telemetry from both the missile and the missiles fired in most tests for later evaluation. Both fullscale (QF-4) and subscale (BQM-167) target drones are available. The subscale drones are usually recovered after an event, as they are equipped with parachutes and flotation bags for recovery from the Gulf of Mexico. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS) operates both the subscale and fullscale drones, along with 2 support aircraft for range patrol and telemetry collection. Fullscale drone operations take place at Tyndall AFB, as well as at a detachment at Holloman AFB.

Mike
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:12:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:

The QF-4s occasionally tow a target sleeve- this is for aerial gunnery training and the aircraft is manned. The target is a banner at the end of a cable, so the aircraft *should* be clear of any rounds, barring substantial buffoonery by the shooter. There are also Learjets which get target tug duties under contract from the US Navy.

For any missile shots, the aircraft is flown unmanned ("NULLO - Not Under Live Local Operator" in target-speak). As noted, the aircraft typically make many sorties manned and even unmanned before being shot down. A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile. The aircraft is equipped with equipment which allows the missile's approach to the target to be measured in detail, "scored" if you will. Ground and sometimes airborne receivers record telemetry from both the missile and the missiles fired in most tests for later evaluation. Both fullscale (QF-4) and subscale (BQM-167) target drones are available. The subscale drones are usually recovered after an event, as they are equipped with parachutes and flotation bags for recovery from the Gulf of Mexico. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS) operates both the subscale and fullscale drones, along with 2 support aircraft for range patrol and telemetry collection. Fullscale drone operations take place at Tyndall AFB, as well as at a detachment at Holloman AFB.

Mike


Thank you, that is very interesting. Are the NULLO aircraft flown from the ground, an in air controller or both?

I'm still amazed that we are launching are recovering F-4's and F-16's without pilots, but with todays unmanned technology it's probably run of the mill.

Corey
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:13:12 PM EST
So does this mean the Gulf is full of F-4 parts now?

If so, what are the rules concerning salvage of them?
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:17:16 PM EST
Q-modification should be easy since it's fly-by-wire...
How hard would it be to make it an MQF-16?
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:18:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:
A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile.


It's still a dummy warhead.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:19:03 PM EST
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:
Originally Posted By Corey:
Does anyone have any information on how Q jets pull the targets in live fire exercises as target tugs?

Are they piloted or remotely operated? Is the target just a stabilized target at the end of a cable? How often do these target tugs get hit during these live fire exercises? I'm not sure I'd want to pilot a jet pulling a target being shot by cannon or even dummy missiles.

And when the Q's are being used with live missiles carrying dummy warheads (like the QF-4 being repaired above), is that as a piloted jet? Seems like that QF-4 was pretty close to taking the dummy warhead up the nozzle, which can't be good news for continued controlled flight.

I am fascinated by this. Neat program. I always thought that Q jets were tested as remotely piloted drones and then immediately shot down in live fire exercises. Learn something new every day.

Corey


The QF-4s occasionally tow a target sleeve- this is for aerial gunnery training and the aircraft is manned. The target is a banner at the end of a cable, so the aircraft *should* be clear of any rounds, barring substantial buffoonery by the shooter. There are also Learjets which get target tug duties under contract from the US Navy.

For any missile shots, the aircraft is flown unmanned ("NULLO - Not Under Live Local Operator" in target-speak). As noted, the aircraft typically make many sorties manned and even unmanned before being shot down. A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile. The aircraft is equipped with equipment which allows the missile's approach to the target to be measured in detail, "scored" if you will. Ground and sometimes airborne receivers record telemetry from both the missile and the missiles fired in most tests for later evaluation. Both fullscale (QF-4) and subscale (BQM-167) target drones are available. The subscale drones are usually recovered after an event, as they are equipped with parachutes and flotation bags for recovery from the Gulf of Mexico. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS) operates both the subscale and fullscale drones, along with 2 support aircraft for range patrol and telemetry collection. Fullscale drone operations take place at Tyndall AFB, as well as at a detachment at Holloman AFB.

Mike


The learjets are getting replaced by F-4's. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123237870
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:20:09 PM EST
Originally Posted By Corey:
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:

The QF-4s occasionally tow a target sleeve- this is for aerial gunnery training and the aircraft is manned. The target is a banner at the end of a cable, so the aircraft *should* be clear of any rounds, barring substantial buffoonery by the shooter. There are also Learjets which get target tug duties under contract from the US Navy.

For any missile shots, the aircraft is flown unmanned ("NULLO - Not Under Live Local Operator" in target-speak). As noted, the aircraft typically make many sorties manned and even unmanned before being shot down. A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile. The aircraft is equipped with equipment which allows the missile's approach to the target to be measured in detail, "scored" if you will. Ground and sometimes airborne receivers record telemetry from both the missile and the missiles fired in most tests for later evaluation. Both fullscale (QF-4) and subscale (BQM-167) target drones are available. The subscale drones are usually recovered after an event, as they are equipped with parachutes and flotation bags for recovery from the Gulf of Mexico. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS) operates both the subscale and fullscale drones, along with 2 support aircraft for range patrol and telemetry collection. Fullscale drone operations take place at Tyndall AFB, as well as at a detachment at Holloman AFB.

Mike


Thank you, that is very interesting. Are the NULLO aircraft flown from the ground, an in air controller or both?

I'm still amazed that we are launching are recovering F-4's and F-16's without pilots, but with todays unmanned technology it's probably run of the mill.

Corey


The drones are flown by a ground controller, using a line of sight link to the aircraft. This does provide some practical limitations on where the testing can take place, since getting too far away from the ground station has a higher chance of losing signal. For takeoff, a manned aircraft provides visual observation and "escorts" the drone out to the range, letting the controller know if there are any problems with the drone (such as not flying the commanded flight path).

Mike
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:33:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/21/2012 6:41:40 PM EST by KA3B]
F-16C's are being used as they better represent the threat from modern Gen 4 fighter aircraft.

The first QF-16C's came from the 174 FW from New York, "The Boys From Syracuse".

Here's a thread (slightly derailed) that we did about the QF-16 back in May of 2012.
http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1321311

Here's another one:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_5/1362965_.html

One from 2010:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_147/1010472_.html

Another one:
http://jobrelatedstuff.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1046143

Another one:
http://3gn.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1017526

Here's one from 2008:
http://beta.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=803141
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:35:44 PM EST

Originally Posted By Tony-Ri:



The learjets are getting replaced by F-4's. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123237870

That's really cool. I'm glad that the F-4 still is able to serve in a useful way. Better than being turned into beer cans, by far.

Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:40:42 PM EST
I forget the length of the tow, but during CIWS shoots on boats the missile target is towed by a manned plane. I heard 2 miles of cable from someone, but I can't confirm that. I can tell you the plane would whizz overheard first, and several seconds later the missile would.

It was set up in a fashion so that the missile target would be in the engagement envelope and the rounds fired would not be headed towards the towing plane. They did several dry runs first to ensure the CIWS could lock on to the correct target for a specified amount of time before actually engaging it with live ammo.

Cool as fuck to see hits on target standing 20 some feet from the CIWS.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 6:49:29 PM EST
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:
Originally Posted By Corey:
Originally Posted By Mike_c130:

The QF-4s occasionally tow a target sleeve- this is for aerial gunnery training and the aircraft is manned. The target is a banner at the end of a cable, so the aircraft *should* be clear of any rounds, barring substantial buffoonery by the shooter. There are also Learjets which get target tug duties under contract from the US Navy.

For any missile shots, the aircraft is flown unmanned ("NULLO - Not Under Live Local Operator" in target-speak). As noted, the aircraft typically make many sorties manned and even unmanned before being shot down. A missile isn't fired with a "dummy" warhead- the warhead is replaced by a telemetry package for testing purposes, since there really isn't anywhere else to put telemetry on the missile. The aircraft is equipped with equipment which allows the missile's approach to the target to be measured in detail, "scored" if you will. Ground and sometimes airborne receivers record telemetry from both the missile and the missiles fired in most tests for later evaluation. Both fullscale (QF-4) and subscale (BQM-167) target drones are available. The subscale drones are usually recovered after an event, as they are equipped with parachutes and flotation bags for recovery from the Gulf of Mexico. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS) operates both the subscale and fullscale drones, along with 2 support aircraft for range patrol and telemetry collection. Fullscale drone operations take place at Tyndall AFB, as well as at a detachment at Holloman AFB.

Mike


Thank you, that is very interesting. Are the NULLO aircraft flown from the ground, an in air controller or both?

I'm still amazed that we are launching are recovering F-4's and F-16's without pilots, but with todays unmanned technology it's probably run of the mill.

Corey


The drones are flown by a ground controller, using a line of sight link to the aircraft. This does provide some practical limitations on where the testing can take place, since getting too far away from the ground station has a higher chance of losing signal. For takeoff, a manned aircraft provides visual observation and "escorts" the drone out to the range, letting the controller know if there are any problems with the drone (such as not flying the commanded flight path).

Mike


Thanks for the info, like I said very interesting.

Corey
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