One would think following the ever louder public complaints against the use of drones that the Obama administration would take the hint and perhaps taper their remote controlled less-than-surgical-strike use. One would be wrong because as we have learned, the president has instead opted to double down and expand drone use by branching out into such manned legacy fighter jet territory as remote-controlled F-16s.
As BBC reports, "Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones. It said that one of the Lockheed Martin F-16 made a first flight with an empty cockpit last week. Two US Air Force pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from a Florida base to the Gulf of Mexico. Boeing suggested that the innovation could ultimately be used to help train pilots, providing an adversary they could practise firing on."
And so even more remote-controlled carnage is about to be unleashed, as America proceeds to spread its liberating democratic ideals to even more remote parts of the world leading to even more adoration of US foreign policy.
More on the prototype distributor of core US values, manned from a Nevada bunker:
The jet - which had previously sat mothballed at an Arizona site for 15 years - flew at an altitude of 40,000ft (12.2km) and a speed of Mach 1.47 (1,119mph/1,800km/h).
It carried out a series of manoeuvres including a barrel roll and a "split S" - a move in which the aircraft turns upside down before making a half loop so that it flies the right-way-up in the opposite direction. This can be used in combat to evade missile lock-ons.
Boeing said the unmanned F16 was followed by two chase planes to ensure it stayed in sight, and also contained equipment that would have allowed it to self-destruct if necessary.
The firm added that the flight attained 7Gs of acceleration but was capable of carrying out manoeuvres at 9Gs - something that might cause physical problems for a pilot.
"It flew great, everything worked great, [it] made a beautiful landing - probably one of the best landings I've ever seen," said Paul Cejas, the project's chief engineer.
Lt Col Ryan Inman, Commander of the US Air Force's 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, also had praise for how the test had gone.
"It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around," he said.
Boeing said that it had a total of six modified F-16s, which have been renamed QF-16s, and that the US military now planned to use some of them in live fire tests.
Here is the unmanned F-16 in action: