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Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM)

United States (1990)
Picture of Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft
Picture of Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft Picture of Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft
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Two Rockwell-MBB X-31 aircraft were completed to test the nuances of vectored thrust - the series flew into 2003.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 1/20/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The X-31 experimental aircraft was a joint development venture between Rockwell and Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) of Germany to test the viability of thrust-vectoring hardware and software. Two prototypes were used throughout the program's run with a first-flight recorded on October 11th, 1990. Of the pair, one crashed during a test flight (the pilot ejecting safely) while the surviving member ended its days as a showpiece at the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim in Germany.

Many off-the-shelf components, borrowed from designs like the F-16, F-16XL, F/A-18 Hornet and B-1 bomber, made up the actual aircraft to keep development costs down and construction times short. The result was a sleek, though largely conventional, fighter design sporting well-swept, low-mounted monoplane wings (in a canard delta configuration), a single rudder and no horizontal planes at the tail (instead nose-mounted canards took over their role). A retractable undercarriage assisted ground running. The pilot was given a commanding view over the nose thanks to an elevated seating position and tear-drop-style canopy. The fuselage appeared with rounded slab sides and a deep profile.

Power was derived from a single General Electric F404-GE-400 series turbofan engine of 16,000lb thrust output, giving the airframe a maximum speed of 900 miles per hour, a service ceiling up to 40,000 feet and a rate-of-climb nearing 43,000 feet per minute. The engine was aspirated through a rectangular intake identified under the cockpit floor aft of the nose cone. The key design element of the X-31 was its jet pipe exhaust structure which incorporated three moveable panels to direct the flow of outgoing thrust. The idea was to test high Angle-of-Attack (AoA) performance during maneuvers - in this respect, the program succeeded.

Between the two prototypes, 580 flights were completed. Prototype 1 was lost on January 19th, 1995 due to ice build-up at the pitot tube resulting in incorrect data being fed to the onboard computers. Prototype 2 flew on into 2003 before being put out to pasture.


Picture of the Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft
Picture of the Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft



Any available statistics for the Rockwell-MBB X-31 (EFM) Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft 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: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (901mph).

    Graph average of 750 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.


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Origin: United States
Year: 1990
Type: Thrust-Vectoring Experimental Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Rockwell - USA / Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) - Germany
Production: 2
Global Operators:
Germany; 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 Rockwell-MBB X-31 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
43.34 ft


Meters
13.21 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
23.79 ft


Meters
7.25 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.60 ft


Meters
4.45 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
11,409 lb


Kilograms
5,175 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
15,939 lb


Kilograms
7,230 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x General Electric F404-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engine developing 16,000lb of thrust.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
901 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,450 kph


Knots
783 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
40,026 ft


Meters
12,200 m


Miles
7.58 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
43,000 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
13,106 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• X-31 - Base Series Designation; two flyable aircraft completed.