QF-16 reaches operational capability milestone Published Sept. 26, 2016 By Capt. Amanda Farr 53rd Wing Public Affairs EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Combat Command declared Initial Operational Capability for the QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target on September 23d. The decision was approved by Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of ACC, for the total of 15 QF-16s currently available for target operations. The jets are assigned to Tyndall AFB and flown by the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron under the 53rd Wing. The 82nd ATRS operates the only full scale aerial target capability in the Department of Defense. In accordance with U.S. law, Title 10, Section 2366 of the U.S. Code, a missile system must undergo lethality testing before it can enter full-scale production. The 82nd ATRS maintains DOD’s sole capability to execute the Title 10 requirement through the FSAT program. The QF-16 is the introduction of 4th generation fighter capabilities in the aerial target mission. It maintains all inherent capabilities of the baseline F-16 including supersonic flight and nine-G maneuverability. "This leap forward in airframe capabilities, combined with advanced electronic pods, will allow us to properly test and evaluate our 5th generation aircraft and weapons," said Lt. Col. Matthew Garrison, 82nd ATRS commander. The newest aerial target was fielded to replace the QF-4, which flew its last unmanned mission Aug. 17 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The QF-4 will officially retire in December. The 82nd ATRS is a geographically separated unit of the 53rd WG headquartered at Eglin AFB. As the sole operational test wing for the U.S. Air Force, the 53rd Wing develops, test, evaluates and delivers effective and sustainable combat capabilities to perfect lethality and survivability of the nation's combat forces.