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News > Eglin unit delivers 200th QF-4 Drone
QF-4 Drone
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — A QF-4 Drone in flight as it is tracked by a missile at Tyndall AFB, Fla. The drones are used as moving targets to test weapons. (Courtesy photo)
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Eglin unit delivers 200th QF-4 Drone

Posted 9/7/2006   Updated 9/7/2006 Email story   Print story


9/7/2006 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- One Eglin squadron plays a key role in keeping fighter pilots' air-to-air warfighting skills sharp by providing them real aircraft as flying targets.

The 691st Armament Systems Squadron, made up of 52 military, civilian and contract workers, delivered the 200th QF-4 drone this spring to Tyndall AFB, Fla., where it will be flown as a remote-controlled aerial target.

"We enable the warfighter to test and train against targets that are representative of what they would face in combat," said Audrea Feist, 691st ARSS Full Scale Targets IPT lead. "It's a great feeling knowing that the product we provide enhances our warfighters' readiness."

The QF-4 is an F-4 fighter that has been converted into a drone to resemble enemy aircraft.

The Air Force, Navy and Army use these drones for developmental/operational test and evaluation, weapon system evaluation and for live-fire lethality testing for ground-to-air and air-to-air missiles, according to Glenn Ragsdale, QF-4 lead engineer.

BAE Systems Electronics and Integrated Solutions has been a key contractor in converting the aircraft into drones, said Lt. Col. Shaun House, 691st ARSS commander.

The process begins with the F-4 aircraft being retrieved from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, better known as the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The aircraft are repaired and brought back to flying status and flown to BAE in Mojave, Calif., where electronic components are added to enable the aircraft to fly without a pilot in the cockpit.

After completion of the drone conversion process, which takes about 160 days, BAE conducts a test flight, and the converted aircraft is then flown to either Tyndall or Holloman AFB, N.M.

The government then conducts a flight test prior to acceptance of the drone. Once this process is complete, the Air Force and sister services, as well as allied nations, use the QF-4 to test the lethality and accuracy of their weapons systems.

The Air Force has issued contracts to BAE for a total of 243 QF-4 aerial targets.

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