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Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) X-36

United States (1997)
Picture of Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) X-36 Unmanned Fighter Technology Demonstrator

The remote-piloted Boeing X-36 technology demonstrator was developed to further research in a tailless fighter design.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) X-36 Unmanned Fighter Technology Demonstrator.  Entry last updated on 5/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Boeing X-36 (formerly McDonnell Douglas) was a unmanned technology demonstrator and served NASA (Ames and Dryden Research Centers) through some 31 total flights. The program sought to evaluate a tailless fighter design for possible military application and featured a unique wing planform to accomplish the requirement. By all published accounts, the program was a complete success, furthering research into future tailless aircraft design as well as improved maneuverability, pilotless design and airframe survivability. With design work beginning as early as 1989, a pair of flyable aircraft were eventually built for the program beginning in 1994 using "rapid prototyping" techniques.

On the whole, the aircraft featured some conventional qualities such as its forward-set cockpit and internal turbofan engine but was an inherently unstable design. Its wing arrangement was largely unconventional and included forward canards near amidships with the main wing assemblies at the rear of the airframe. Control was through a variety of facilities including Fly-By-Wire (FBW), specialized correcting software, canards positioning and thrust-vectoring at the engine exhaust port. As a tailless aircraft, it lacked any vertical tail surfaces. The single engine installation was aspirated by a pair of intakes at the front of the layout, one fitted to either side of the fuselage near the cockpit. As a remotely-piloted design, the X-36 also lacked a "true" cockpit as the operator piloted the aircraft from a Ground Control Station (GCS). Since the cockpit did not require space and facilities to support a human pilot, the entire aircraft was designed at 28 percent scale to control costs, speed up development and provide better access to key internal components. The X-36 was, therefore, only representative of a possible future fighter design.

The airframe was given a running length of 18 feet, 2 inches with a wingspan of 10 feet, 4 inches and height of 3 feet, 1 inch. A Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 1,250lbs was listed. Power was served through 1 x Williams International F112 series turbofan engine developing 700 lbs of thrust and this provided a maximum speed of 235 miles per hour with a service ceiling nearing 20,500 feet.

The initial test vehicle went airborne for the first time on May 17th, 1997 on what would begin a 25-week long evaluation period. Once their useful data-collecting days had ended, the two aircraft were delivered to museums - one to reside at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (Wright-Patterson AFB) in Dayton, Ohio and the other for display at the Air Force Test Flight Center at Edwards AFB, California.

The X-36 was constructed by Boeing Phantom Works of The Boeing Company of its St. Louis, Missouri facility. The product and program was a partnership held between Boeing and NASA through a 50/50 cost-sharing split.

Any available statistics for the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) X-36 Unmanned Fighter Technology Demonstrator are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (233mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1997
Type: Unmanned Fighter Technology Demonstrator
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Phantom Works / McDonnell Douglas / NASA - USA
Production: 2
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing X-36 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
0


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
18.21 ft


Meters
5.55 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
10.33 ft


Meters
3.15 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
3.12 ft


Meters
0.95 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,235 lb


Kilograms
560 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Williams International F112 turbofan engines developing 700 lb of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
233 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
375 kph


Knots
202 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
20,013 ft


Meters
6,100 m


Miles
3.79 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• X-36 - Base Project Designation; two vehicles constructed, since retired.