The U.S. Air Force goes to great lengths to train their fighter pilots. But even the best simulations lack the visceral experience of a real live fire dogfight. To give their pilots the most realist experience possible, the USAF is working with Boeing to convert some of its old F-16s into pilotless drones that can actually engage in a real dogfight with their pilots.
The new drone version is called the QF-16 and can pull up to 8Gs while flying at Mach 1.47. It’s controlled by two pilots on the ground. So far Boeing has built six of the drones, but seeing as it will soon be blasted out of the sky by live pilots in a pursuing fighter, I expect they will need more pretty soon.
The Air Force still flies the regular piloted F-16 in some roles, but they also have hundreds in mothballs that they can convert into nice $15 million targets for new pilots.