Academy eyes cadets’ design for new UAV

Cadet 1st Class Justin Merrick from the Air Force Academy's Cadet Squadron 20 shows the small remotely piloted aircraft developed in the aerospace lab. Bill Evans/Air Force

The Air Force Times reports

By Jill Laster – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jan 2, 2012 9:08:59 EST

A small drone designed by a group of Air Force Academy cadets could become the Air Force’s newest unmanned aerial vehicle.

Its mission: become a target for F-22s and F-35s to shoot down during training.

The Air Force is considering the small unmanned aircraft along with another one by a contractor.

More than 50 groups of cadets submitted potential designs for the new drone as part of a “capstone course” in 2008, during their final year at the academy.

The academy — along with partners at the Air Force Research Laboratory, the service’s Aeronautical Systems Center and the contractor Sierra Technical Services — has been researching since 2003 what sort of drone the service could use to practice shootdowns.

The Air Force now uses F-4s that have been modified as drones — QF-4s — for that training. F-16s, modified as drones and renamed QF-16s, are scheduled to replace them soon, but using modified fighters could pose a disadvantage.

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