ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- BAE Systems reports a milestone in its conversion of F-4 Phantom fighter jets into unmanned flying vehicles for the U.S. Air Force.
The 300th decommissioned F-4 has been converted into a QF-4 at the company's facility in California.
"Our proven performance on this program exemplifies our global capabilities to upgrade and modify aircraft," said Gordon Eldridge, vice president and general manager of Aerospace Solutions at BAE Systems. "We have been the sole provider of QF-4s for the Air Force since 1996.
"Congratulations to the entire Mojave team, which now has more than 35 years of combined experience and a solid track record of success."
BAE Systems has been engaged in F-4 conversions for 16 years. The conversion process takes about six months and -- depending on the condition of the aircraft -- takes about six months. Work involves systems engineering and integration; electrical, mechanical and software engineering; and various types of structural alterations.
"There are 14 more QF-4s scheduled for delivery by the middle of 2013," the company said. "After each conversion is complete, the aircraft is flown to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and other training sites, where it is used primarily for target practice."
The F-4 entered service with the U.S. military in 1960 and left service in 1996.