X-36 by Boeing Company, USA.
Beginning in 1989, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) Phantom Works developed the technologies required for an agile, tailless fighter. To validate the advanced technologies in a real flight environment, the Phantom Works began building two unmanned X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft vehicles using rapid prototyping techniques at its St. Louis, Mo., facility in 1994. For flight control, the X-36 replaced the elevators, ailerons and rudders found on traditional aircraft with split ailerons and a thrust-vectoring nozzle for directional control. It also incorporated an advanced, single-channel digital fly-by-wire control system developed from commercially available components.
The first flight of the X-36 occurred on May 17, 1997. Over a 25-week period, one of the two aircraft completed 31 successful research flights, accumulating a total of 15 hours and 38 minutes of flight time. The final flight of the original program took place on Nov. 12, 1997.
For almost 20 years, aeronautical engineers had been concerned about what would happen if a tailless aircraft’s control system suffered in-flight damage or malfunctioned. To solve the problem, the Air Force Research Laboratory developed the Reconfigurable Control for Tailless Fighter Aircraft (RESTORE) software. During December 1998, the X-36 made two more flights, which demonstrated that the software could successfully compensate for problems with the control surfaces.
The X-36 “cockpit” and forward fuselage areas were autographed by personnel associated with the program before the aircraft was donated to the museum.
- Engine: Williams International F112 turbojet engine with approx. 700 lbs. of thrust
- Maximum speed: 234 mph
- Highest flight: 20,200 ft.
- Gross weight: 1,245 lbs.