Fighting Falcons Land At Eglin To Transform Into Autonomous Aircraft

The F-16 Fighting Falcons are taking a leap into the future at Eglin Air Force Base! ๐Ÿš€ Find out how these legendary aircraft are evolving through autonomy.

Eglin Air Force Base – the home of… autonomous flight.ย 

The 96th Test Wing and the 53rd Wingย announced the arrival of the first three F-16s, which will get a retrofit so they will fly without pilots.ย 

It is part of a program the Air Force Calls “the Viper Experimentation and Next Gen Ops Model – Autonomy Flying Testbed Program,” or VENOM-AFT for short.ย 

The Air Force wants to use the program to test autonomous flight and its processes and hardware.ย 

“The VENOM program marks a pivotal chapter in advancing aerial combat capabilities,” said Maj. Ross Elder, VENOM developmental test lead. “We look forward to the culmination of years of engineering and collaboration as VENOM leads a measured step towards a new age of aviation.”

The 40th Flight Test Squadron and 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will take the lead in testing the new abilities with the half-century-old aircraft.ย 

RELATED: Unveiling the F-15 EX: A New Era In Air Power Begins at Eglin Air Force Base

Lt. Colonel Jeremy Castor says having the program located in Eglin allows for quicker turnaround and faster implementation of the lessons they learn from tests because everyone is colocated.ย 

Although the testing will center on making the planes operate autonomously, they will have pilots who will ensure that anything that goes wrong is corrected.ย 

About the F-16

The first F-16 prototype rolled off the General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) production line and into the skiesย on January 1974ย – and celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Air Force this year.. The Air Force took lessons learned from the Vietnam War and rolled them into this lightweight, cost-effective multirole fighter to counter the Soviet threat.ย 

The Plane made its combat debut with the Israeli Air Force in 1981, when it destroyed a nuclear reactor built by Sadaam Huessein’s Iraq.ย 

The United States has since used the Fighting Falcon in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and pretty much anywhere else American Air Power needed to make a statement.ย 

More Local News

Download our app to stay in the know about niceville

Keep Local News Free!

$5 per month helps keep Mid Bay News independent and free for everybody!

Keep Up With Niceville News

Stop scrolling social media to find out what’s going on in Niceville. Sign up for our weekly newsletter for the info impacting your daily life!

Boat on a Bayou