US Air Force converts F-16 fighters into drones
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Air Force has test flown an F-16 fighter jet without a pilot on board for the first time, in the latest sign of the military's increasing reliance on drones.
The robotic F-16 flew for 55 minutes with an empty cockpit from a base in Florida last week, as part of a programme that will see the converted fighter jet used as a target for pilots in training, manufacturer Boeing said.
"It was really amazing to see an F-16 take off with nobody in it," said Michelle Shelhamer from Boeing, which has adapted the plane for the US military.
The aircraft is one of six "retired" F-16 jets that will be used as aerial targets for fighter pilots training for air-to-air combat, she said.