Boeing engineers have retrofitted retired F-16s with equipment for remote control and demonstrated "the first unmanned QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flight."

Two U.S. Air Force test pilots in a ground control station at Tydall remotely flew the QF-16, which is a retired F-16 jet modified to be an aerial target. While in the air, the QF-16 mission included a series of simulated maneuvers, reaching supersonic speeds, returning to base and landing, all without a pilot in the cockpit.

Controlling the jet remotely, extreme G manoeuvres exceeding human tolerances would now be possible. The BBC reports Boeing's claim 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."


Ostensibly for "weapons testing and other aerial training" (similar to QF-4 Phantoms), their use against live targets in warfare may be of concern.

[via boeing via bbc]