The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft of the United States Air Force .
Convair F-106 Delta Dart
Design and development
The F-106 was the ultimate development of the USAF's 1954 interceptor program of the early 1950s. The initial winner of this competition had been the F-102 Delta Dagger, but early versions of this aircraft had demonstrated extremely poor performance, limited to subsonic speeds and relatively low altitudes. During the testing program the F-102 underwent numerous changes to improve its performance, notably the application of the area rule to the fuselage shaping and a change of engine, and the dropping of the advanced MX-1179 fire control system and its replacement with a slightly upgraded version of the MX-1 already in use on subsonic designs. The resulting aircraft became the F-102A, and in spite of being considered barely suitable for its mission, the Air Force sent out a production contract in March 1954, with the first deliveries expected the next year.
By December 1951 the Air Force had already turned its attention to a further improved version, the F-102B. Initially the main planned change was the replacement of the A-model's Pratt & Whitney J57 (itself replacing the original J40) with the more powerful Bristol Olympus, produced under license as the Wright J67. By the time this would be available, the MX-1179 was expected to be available, and was selected as well. The result would be the "ultimate interceptor" the Air Force wanted originally. However, while initial work on the Olympus appeared to go well, by August 1953 Wright was already a full year behind schedule in development. Continued development did not resolve problems with the engine, and in early 1955 the Air Force approved the switch to the Pratt & Whitney J75
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Between 1 June 1983 and 1 August 1988 the Delta Darts were incrementally retired and sent to the Military Storage and Disposition Center in Arizona. When the need for a high performance Full Scaled Aerial Target Drone was required the USAF began withdrawing Delta Darts from storage. Starting in 1986, 194 of the surviving surplus aircraft were converted into target drones and these were designated QF-106As and used for target practice vehicles under the Pacer Six Program by the Aerial Targets Squadron.The last was destroyed in January 1998.The drones were still capable of being flown as manned aircraft, such as for ferrying to a test; during the test they were flown unmanned.The QF-106 replaced the QF-100 Super Sabre drone; the last shoot down of a QF-106 (57-2524) took place at Holloman AFB on 20 February 1997 after which the QF-106 was superseded by the QF-4S and QF-4E Phantom II drone.
Convair F-106 Delta Dart
The F-106 served in the continental US, Alaska, and Iceland, as well as for brief periods in Germany and South Korea. The F-106 was the second highest sequentially numbered P/F- aircraft to enter service under the old number sequence (the F-111 was highest), before the system was reset under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system. In service, the F-106's official name, "Delta Dart," was rarely used, and the aircraft was universally known simply as "The Six.
Convair F-106 Delta Dart: Specifications
First flight 26 December 1956
Introduction June 1959
Retired August 1988 (ANG); 1998 (NASA)
Primary users United States Air Force
Air National Guard
Number built 342 (2 prototypes, 277 F-106A, 63 F-106B)
US$4.7 million (1973)
$25.1 million (2014)
Developed from Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
Convair F-106 Delta Dart "The Six"
The F-106 served in the continental US, Alaska, and Iceland, as well as for brief periods in Germany and South Korea. The F-106 was the second highest sequentially numbered P/F- aircraft to enter service under the old number sequence (the F-111 was highest), before the system was reset under the 1962 United States