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F-16 shoots down drone at Eglin AFB in cruise missile defense test

The test successfully demonstrated that an F-16 could shoot down a comparatively smaller drone at low altitudes, which commanders say has implications for future defense missions.

By Christen McCurdy
F-16 shoots down drone at Eglin AFB in cruise missile defense test
A group of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron and the 40th Flight Test Squadron return to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. shot down a small drone at low altitudes on Dec. 19. Photo by John Raven/U.S. Air Force

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- An Air Force squadron shot down a subscale drone from an F-16 Fighting Falcon targeting pod in a cruise missile defense test, the Air Force announced.

"This proof of concept can have implications for homeland defense missions, combined defense of the Arabian Gulf and beyond," Col. Ryan Messer, 53rd Wing Commander, said Thursday in a statement. "I am exceptionally proud of the efforts of the 85th TES and the units across the 53rd Wing that made this possible."

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According to the Air Force, on Dec. 19 the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida successfully shot down a subscale drone using an AGR-20A laser-guided rocket.

The test represents an adaptation of the AGR-20A -- which was developed as a low-cost, low-collateral-damage air-to-ground weapon for use in Afghanistan and Iraq -- for counter-air use.

Results suggest the AGR-20A could be adapted to replace the AIM-120, which is more expensive and takes longer to load.

The squadron planned the test with support across the Air Force and with contract partners in line with the Air Force's tactics improvement proposal -- set after the annual Weapons and Tactics Conference in January -- of finding a more efficient cruise missile missile defense weapon.

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