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Now Its Official. No Human Pilot Needed On Board, old fighters given new life as drones

SR71
post Sep 25 2013, 08:47 AM
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http://www.boeing.com/boeing/Features/2013...6_09_23_13.page


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Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones.

It said that one of the Lockheed Martin F-16 made a first flight with an empty cockpit last week.

Two US Air Force pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from a Florida base to the Gulf of Mexico.

Boeing suggested that the innovation could ultimately be used to help train pilots, providing an adversary they could practise firing on.

The jet - which had previously sat mothballed at an Arizona site for 15 years - flew at an altitude of 40,000ft (12.2km) and a speed of Mach 1.47 (1,119mph/1,800km/h).

It carried out a series of manoeuvres including a barrel roll and a "split S" - a move in which the aircraft turns upside down before making a half loop so that it flies the right-way-up in the opposite direction. This can be used in combat to evade missile lock-ons.

Boeing said the unmanned F16 was followed by two chase planes to ensure it stayed in sight, and also contained equipment that would have allowed it to self-destruct if necessary.

The firm added that the flight attained 7Gs of acceleration but was capable of carrying out manoeuvres at 9Gs - something that might cause physical problems for a pilot.

"It flew great, everything worked great, [it] made a beautiful landing - probably one of the best landings I've ever seen," said Paul Cejas, the project's chief engineer.

Lt Col Ryan Inman, Commander of the US Air Force's 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, also had praise for how the test had gone.

QF-16 jet The jet flew over the Gulf of Mexico on the test carried out on 19 September
"It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around," he said.

Boeing said that it had a total of six modified F-16s, which have been renamed QF-16s, and that the US military now planned to use some of them in live fire tests.

However, a spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots warned of the temptation to use them in warfare.

"I'm very concerned these could be used to target people on the ground," said Prof Noel Sharkey.

"I'm particularly worried about the high speed at which they can travel because they might not be able to distinguish their targets very clearly.

"There is every reason to believe that these so-called 'targets' could become a test bed for drone warfare, moving us closer and closer to automated killing."



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N2264J
post Sep 25 2013, 10:27 AM
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QUOTE (SR71 @ Sep 25 2013, 07:47 AM) *
Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones.


I didn't realize the subject of turning aircraft into drones was controversial.

In the late 60s/early 70s, the Navy was retrofitting T-28s, F-8s and F-9s as drones for the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I imagine the technology has only improved in the last 50 years.

QUOTE
During its first decade, VC-8 operated KDA, Q2C and BQM-34 Firebee drones; QF-9F/Gs (fighters converted to drones); DB-26J, DF-1D, DF-8A/F, DF-9F, DT-28B, DT-33B, DP-2E/H and US-2C aircraft for drone control and target towing; and UH-34E/G and SH-34G Seahorse helicopters for target and torpedo retrieval, rescue and utility roles.


http://www.thefreelibrary.com/VC-8+Redtail...ed.-a0113305743

This post has been edited by N2264J: Sep 25 2013, 10:27 AM
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amazed!
post Oct 12 2013, 10:21 AM
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QUOTE (N2264J @ Sep 25 2013, 10:27 AM) *
I didn't realize the subject of turning aircraft into drones was controversial.

In the late 60s/early 70s, the Navy was retrofitting T-28s, F-8s and F-9s as drones for the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. I imagine the technology has only improved in the last 50 years.



http://www.thefreelibrary.com/VC-8+Redtail...ed.-a0113305743



Right you are!

That there could be such a thing as a QB-767 is easy to imagine. rolleyes.gif
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