The Boeing [NYSE: BA] QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target program in August became the first target program to conduct software tests in a systems integration lab (SIL) environment. The program demonstrated key capabilities for the U.S. Air Force during a program review and tour.
Boeing supplier partner BAE Systems conducted the demonstration at the SIL in Johnson City, N.Y. The SIL tests the hardware components and software together to ensure their ability to communicate with each other and with the ground-based control system. Testing in the SIL saves time and ensures mission effectiveness prior to flight testing and production.
Boeing received the $70 million QF-16 engineering and manufacturing development contract in March 2010. Initial production of six QF-16 test aircraft is on schedule to begin later this month at Cecil Field near Jacksonville, Fla. The first test flight is scheduled for February.
"We have started QF-16 system integration testing on schedule, after standing up the SIL in 14 months," said Bob Insinna, Boeing QF-16 program manager. "We started with simulations, and now are testing real flight hardware and software to reduce risk when we integrate at the aircraft level. QF-16 is the first target program to use a SIL, so our customer is new to this and thrilled with the capability. It is another way that we bring value to our customer."
The QF-16 production contract, when awarded, will convert up to 126 retired F-16s into QF-16 full-scale aerial targets -- manned and unmanned -- to test newly developed weapons and tactics.
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