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Lockheed X-62A VISTA

Active Flying Testbed Aircraft [ 2018 ]

The Lockheed X-62A VISTA serves exclusively as a flying testbed for the United States Air Force.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/14/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The X-62 "VISTA" ("VarIable Stability in-flight Simulator Test Aircraft") is an unarmed, "one-off" active-flying testbed operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School out of Edwards AFB. The aircraft is a renaming of the earlier NF-16D VISTA platform ("N" to signifying "Special Test, Permanent") which is an original airframe pulled from the General Dynamics F-16D Block 30 multi-role lightweight USAF fighter stock. Heavily modified for its flying testbed role, the NF-16D was given such changes as a unique "Multi-Axis Thrust-Vectoring" (MATV) exhaust port to achieve unparalleled agility while also being able to better sustain control in the post-stall phase - a critical quality in active flight-testing.

The NF-16D became X-62A in June of 2021. The aircraft is supported by Calspan (a science and technology firm) and aircraft-maker Lockheed Martin (under which the General Dynamics brand was ultimately absorbed).

As the aircraft is based in the existing F-16D model, its characteristics (mainly form and function) remain largely unchanged and faithful to the original: the aircraft carries a crew of two in tandem under a wide-area, clear view canopy. Thus the platform retains the excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit for both pilots (the second crewman operating as a "safety pilot"). The dorsal spine is enlarged to house the special equipment carried by the jet and is a feature common to Israeli Air Force (IAF) Fighting Falcons. Dimensions include a running length of 48.6 feet, a wingspan of 32.1 feet, and a height of 15.8 feet. Empty weight is 18,238lb against an MTOW of 42,300lb.

Power is supplied from a single General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan engine delivering 16,600lb of thrust on dry and up to 28,200lb of thrust with reheat engaged. This gives the platform a maximum speed of 1,350 miles-per-hour - up Mach 2+ at altitude. Ferry range is 3,200 miles and its service ceiling is 50,000 feet.

For its time in the air, the aircraft has been instrumental in the development of the F-35's virtual Head-Up Display (HUD) and Direct Voice-Input systems. The airframe has since been given the System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS) suite for the "Skyborg" initiative. Skyborg is an evolving capability centered on autonomy intended to team unmanned aircraft with manned ones at a much lower cost of procurement, operation, and long-term sustainment.©MilitaryFactory.com
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June 2021 - The NF-16D has formally been redesignated as the "X-62A".

February 2023 - The X-62A has flown with four "AI Agents" installed, these developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, EpiSci, PhysicsAI, and ShieldAI.



Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

In Active Service.


Lockheed Martin / Calspan (X-62A) / General Dynamics (F-16D) - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States (USAF)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Engine outlet(s) designed to direct thrust to certain angles, achieving enhanced agility.
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.

48.6 ft
(14.80 m)
32.2 ft
(9.80 m)
15.7 ft
(4.80 m)
Empty Wgt
18,243 lb
(8,275 kg)
42,329 lb
(19,200 kg)
Wgt Diff
+24,086 lb
(+10,925 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Lockheed X-62A VISTA production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / swept-back
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Lockheed X-62A VISTA production variant)
Installed: 1 x General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan engine developing 16,600lb of thrust dry and 28,200lb of thrust with reheat.
Max Speed
1,348 mph
(2,170 kph | 1,172 kts)
49,213 ft
(15,000 m | 9 mi)
3,231 mi
(5,200 km | 9,630 nm)
50,000 ft/min
(15,240 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Lockheed X-62A VISTA production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
None. Special-mission equipment carried.

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
X-62A - Base Designation; single example completed.
NF-16D - Original project aircraft designation until June 2021.
F-16D Block 30 - Original General Dynamics / Lockheed airframe on which the X-62A was modified from.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the Lockheed X-62A VISTA
Image from Edwards Air Force Base press release; Public Release.

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