Boeing X-36

From the placard:
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, tailess 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, Missouri, 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 develped from commercially available components

The first flight of the X-36 occured on May 17, 1997. Over a 25-week period, the two aircraft completed thirty-one 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 November 12, 1997.

For almost twenty 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 (AFRL) 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...



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Sven Knudson
IPMS#32490
sven@ninfinger.org