The U.S. Air Force has reported that F-16 fighter jets from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron and the 40th Flight Test Squadron conducted test firing in the Gulf of Mexico. During the test, F-16C flown by Maj Jeffrey Entine, 85th Flight Test Squadron test pilot, fired a rocket at a small drone.
This test successfully demonstrated shooting a small drone at low altitudes, according to a statement issued by 40th Flight Test Squadron.
Low, small, and slow drones or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are highly capable and a rapidly evolving technology. They are hard to detect, easy to acquire, and their sophistication and capability increase every year. This emerging capability and ready accessibility of small UAS also means it can present a threat to the United States military.
The most common threats to soldiers from small UAS are intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Small UAS can carry a high resolution camera relatively inexpensively and are virtually undetectable visually beyond three hundred meters. Almost all small UAS now have global positioning systems that allow them to acquire highly accurate locations based on what the small UAS camera is viewing.
The second most likely use of small UAS is terrain denial and command and control disruption. Groups of small, inexpensive UAS can spread out over a large area to deny aircraft the ability to land. UAS with electromagnetic emitters can temporarily disable all single channel radio communications over several kilometers.
The final, least common, and most dangerous use of small UAS is as a kinetic weapon. UAS can easily be equipped to drop grenade sized bombs or be equipped with warheads and flown into targets as small guided missiles.
F-16 fired a rocket at a test drone pic.twitter.com/bgg8fFtxZK
— Dylan Malyasov (@DylanMalyasov) December 22, 2019