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USAF converting F-16s into target drones

July 17, 2013 at 2:04 PM   |   Comments

TUCSON, July 17 (UPI) -- Older versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon are being converted by the U.S. Air Force into aerial targets.

The work is being undertaken by the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, which earlier this year completed conversion of F-4 phantom IIs.

The F-16, originally produced by General Dynamics and now Lockheed, became operational with the U.S. Air Force in the late 1970s. The first one inducted into the full-scale aerial target regeneration program is an F-16C model.

It is anticipated that more than 200 older model F-16s will be converted into drone target aircraft.

The F-16s being converted have all been in mothball or as long as 12 years.

The Air Force said regeneration and modification of the mothballed aircraft will take about six months for each. The planes will then be sent to Florida, where Boeing will install the drone modification package.

The F-16 conversion program is expected to be completed in 2021.

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