QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST) Specifications

QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST) Specifications


The USAF plans to convert older-model F-16s into full-scale target drones under the QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST) program. These AST drones are used in Weapon System Evaluation Programs (WSEP) for assessing upgrades or replacements for air-to-air missiles (AAM), and they are also useful for giving pilots the experience of a live AAM shot and kill prior to entering combat. QF-16s would replace the current QF-4 drones, the last of which are expected to be expended around 2015.

QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST)
QF-16 Air Superiority Target (AST) Specifications
RoleFull-scale target drone
National originUnited States
Primary usersUSAF, US Navy
First flight19 September 2013
Introduction18 November 2014
StatusUnder Development
Number built126 (proposed)
Program cost$70 million
Unit costUnknown
Length49 ft 5 in (15.1 m)
Wingspan31 ft 0 in (9.45 m)
Height16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
Wing area
Empty weight18,900 lb (8,570 kg)
Maximum payload
Maximum takeoff weight42,300 lb (19,200 kg)
PowerplantGeneral Electric F110-GE-100 engine
Maximum speedMach 1.47 or 1,119mph/1,800km/
Ferry range
Combat radius295 nmi (546 km)
Service ceiling40,000ft
Rate of climb
Thrust/weight28,600 lbf (127 kN)
Air to ground loadout


When the F-16s arrive at Boeing’s facility, they are stripped down to remove unneeded parts, including the fighter’s Vulcan six-barrel 20mm cannon and the APG-66/68 radar. Because the USAF requires that the QF-16 be able to fly in both manned and unmanned modes, Boeing will modify the flight control system, working in a teaming arrangement with BAE, the original equipment manufacturer for the F-16 flight control system.



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