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Fla. Air Force QF4 Drone Crashes Hwy Closed Concern Over Self Destruct Charge
By Eddy Metcalf

July 17, 2013 - An unmanned Air Force QF-4 drone, assigned here to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, crashed on takeoff at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida at 8:25 AM. No one was injured during the incident.

Tyndall Air Force Base and local police and safety officials have closed Florida’s Panhandle highway 98 and are anticipating that it will remain closed for up to 24 hours. This closure is being done strictly as a precautionary measure due to fires resulting from the crash and a small self-destruct charge carried on board the drone. The status of this device is unknown. However, it is powered by a short-life battery which will be fully depleted in 24 hours.

The charge is used to destroy the drone if it leaves its pre-approved flight plan. Motorist traveling from Panama City to Mexico Beach, are asked to use Highway 22 east to Highway 71 south, and from Mexico Beach to Panama City Highway 71 north to Highway 22 west.

The supersonic QF-4 is a reusable full-scale target drone modified from the F-4 Phantom. The QF-4 provides a realistic full-scale target for air-to-air weapons system evaluation, development and testing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and Holloman AFB, N.M.

The QF-4 is a remotely controlled target, which simulates enemy aircraft maneuvers. The drone can be flown by remote control or with a safety pilot to monitor its performance. The drone is flown unmanned when missiles are fired at it, and only in specific over-water airspace authorized for unmanned flight. When flown unmanned, an explosive device is placed in the QF-4 to destroy the aircraft if it inadvertently becomes uncontrollable.

The QF-4 is equipped to carry electronic and infrared countermeasures to fully evaluate fighters and weapons flown and fired against it. Full-scale drone aircraft can be flown totally by computer using the Gulf Range Drone Control System, or controlled manually during takeoff and landing using a mobile control station located at the drone runway. As a safety precaution, a chase plane trails the drone during critical periods of flight.


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