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    Pilotless F-16 jet completes test flight over Florida

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    US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has announced the first ever flight by a pilotless F-16 fighter.

    The modified plane took to the skies above Florida last week for a one-hour test flight.

    Two Air Force test pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from Tyndal Air force base over the Gulf of Mexico.

    The jet, known as the QF-16, was renovated after being mothballed in the Arizona desert for 15 years.

    During the flight the jet performed a series of maneuvers including a barrel roll and a 'split S'.

    The QF-16 reached altitudes of up to 40,000ft (12.2km) and a speed of Mach 1.47 (1,119mph/1,800km/h) before making a textbook landing.

    The unmanned F16 was tailed by two planes to ensure it stayed in sight, and according to Boeing carried equipment that would allow it to self-destruct if necessary.

    The jet, one of six QF-16s already modified, will now be sent to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico for further test that will include live-fire testing.

    Boeing said that the technology would ultimately be used to help train pilots, providing an adversary they could practise firing on.

    One of a total of 210 planned unmanned jets, the first ones are projected to go into service sometime next year.


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