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What are the major differences in between the flying of, say, a drone like the Predator, versus the QF-16? What changes so drastically in the handling of the aircraft for the remote pilot? Are the increased maximum speed and loading the only thing that makes this flight different?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Steve V., kevin, Ralph J, fooot, RockPaperLizard Jan 19 '16 at 3:41

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I opined such because it came up in my news way too frequently than expected... $\endgroup$ – Raj Jan 13 '16 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ Don't let the news tell you what's good and bad. But that's a whole other topic... $\endgroup$ – Steve Jan 13 '16 at 14:19
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USAF has been flying combat aircraft converted into target drones for decades; calling it the next big step is a few decades too late. The best possible explanation would be that the buzz was created in context of the armed UAVs being used in combat operations.

In the strictest sense, the differences in the two platforms are the same as the aircraft they are based on. QF-16 is based on a combat aircraft and as such brings to the table advantages like maneuverability, speed etc and corresponding limitations. On the other hand, the Predator (MQ-1) is based on a reconnaissance platform and brings the advantages like endurance, quietness etc. while limited by payload and speed. The handling qualities vary accordingly.

Another dimension is the use of experience gained in designing/operating QF-16 in the development of next generation combat aircraft which are expected to be optionally piloted (for e.g. the preflight tests on QF-16 are carried out by a pilot, who then exits the aircraft).

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah this is pretty much it: the QF-16 is a remote control F-16 and could, in theory, be used the same as a regular multi-role fighter. The Predator/Reaper/etc are much slower and are basically just a remote control plane carrying a camera and a couple of missiles. A Predator couldn't replace an F-16, but a QF-16 could replace both an F-16 or a Predator. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Jan 13 '16 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @JonStory Predator can "fly up to 400 nmi (460 mi; 740 km) to a target, loiter overhead for 14 hours, then return to its base." So no, QF-16 can't really replace a Predator for its intended use. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jan 14 '16 at 13:12
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Another consideration in the difference might be latency as discussed in this question. I'm just guessing that a target drone would be flown from somewhere near the location of the exercise. As opposed to half a world away like the predator.

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