General Dynamics X-62 VISTA
The General Dynamics X-62 VISTA ("Variable Stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft") is an experimental aircraft, derived from the F-16D Fighting Falcon, which was modified as a joint venture between General Dynamics and Calspan for use by the United States Air Force (USAF). Originally designated NF-16D, the aircraft was redesignated X-62A on 14 June 2021 as part of an upgrade to a Skyborg, with System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS).
|The General Dynamics VISTA/MATV NF-16D|
|Manufacturer||General Dynamics |
(later Lockheed Martin) and
|First flight||April 1992|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Developed from||General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon|
X-62A remains on the curriculum of the Air Force Test Pilot School as a practice aircraft for test pilots.
Design and developmentEdit
The NF-16D VISTA testbed aircraft incorporated a multi-axis thrust vectoring (MATV) engine nozzle that provides for more active control of the aircraft in a post-stall situation. As a result, the aircraft is supermaneuverable, retaining pitch and yaw control at angles of attack beyond which the traditional control surfaces cannot change attitude.
The NF-16D VISTA is a Block 30 F-16D based on the airframe design of the Israeli Air Force version, which incorporates a dorsal fairing running the length of the fuselage aft of the canopy and a heavyweight landing gear derived from the Block 40 F-16C/D. The fairing houses most of the variable-stability equipment and test instrumentation. The heavyweight gear permits simulation of aircraft with higher landing sink rates than a standard F-16.
The program was notable for the development of Direct Voice Input and the "Virtual HUD", which were both eventually to be incorporated into the cockpit design for the F-35 Lightning II.
The VISTA aircraft is now operated by the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and maintained by Calspan at Edwards Air Force Base. It is regularly used in student curriculum sorties, special academic projects, and flight research. As of 14 June 2021 VISTA is in the midst of upgrading. In addition to replacing the VISTA Simulation System (VSS) with a newer, upgraded version of the same system, a System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS) will be added in order to operate X-62A as a Skyborg. One application is as autonomously piloted aircraft, perhaps as robotic wingman to a manned aircraft.
Data from USAF fact sheet AerospaceWeb
- Crew: 2 (pilot and safety pilot)
- Length: 48 ft 7 in (14.8 m)
- Wingspan: 32 ft 2 in (9.8 m)
- Height: 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m)
- Wing area: 300 sq ft (28 m2)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip
- Empty weight: 18,238 lb (8,273 kg)
- Gross weight: 26,463 lb (12,003 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,187 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan, 16,600 lbf (74 kN) thrust dry, 28,200 lbf (125 kN) with afterburner
- Maximum speed: 1,170 kn (1,350 mph, 2,170 km/h)
- At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,460 km/h)
- At altitude: Mach 2+
- Ferry range: 2,800 nmi (3,200 mi, 5,200 km) with 3× 370 US gal (1,401 L) drop tanks
- Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m) +
- Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (250 m/s)
- Wing loading: 88.2 lb/sq ft (431 kg/m2)
- Thrust/weight: 1.095
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
- ^ Simonsen, Erik (2016). A Complete History of U.S. Combat Aircraft Fly-Off Competitions. Forest Lake, MN: Specialty Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-58007-227-4.
- ^ Thuloweit, Kenji (20 March 2019). "New VISTA paint scheme gets artist's approval". Robins Air Force Base. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
- ^ a b c d Casem, Giancarlo (30 July 2021). "NF-16D VISTA becomes X-62A, paves way for Skyborg autonomous flight tests". DVIDS. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
- ^ F-16 Versions - F-16 VISTA / MATV / NF-16D
- ^ F-16 USAF fact sheet
- ^ F-16 page on aerospaceweb.org
- ^ "Code One Magazine: Vista F-16 - January 1991". Archived from the original on 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-09-11.