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Lockheed X-62A VISTA

Active Flying Testbed Aircraft

United States | 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; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

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.

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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.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Lockheed X-62A VISTA Active Flying Testbed Aircraft.
1 x General Electric F110-GE-100 afterburning turbofan engine developing 16,600lb of thrust dry and 28,200lb of thrust with reheat.
1,348 mph
2,170 kph | 1,172 kts
Max Speed
49,213 ft
15,000 m | 9 miles
Service Ceiling
3,231 miles
5,200 km | 2,808 nm
Operational Range
50,000 ft/min
15,240 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Lockheed X-62A VISTA Active Flying Testbed Aircraft.
48.6 ft
14.80 m
O/A Length
32.2 ft
(9.80 m)
O/A Width
15.7 ft
(4.80 m)
O/A Height
18,243 lb
(8,275 kg)
Empty Weight
42,329 lb
(19,200 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Lockheed X-62A VISTA Active Flying Testbed Aircraft .
None. Special-mission equipment carried.
Notable series variants as part of the Lockheed X-62A VISTA family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Lockheed X-62A VISTA. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Lockheed Martin / Calspan (X-62A) / General Dynamics (F-16D) - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (USAF) ]
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Image of the Lockheed X-62A VISTA
Image from Edwards Air Force Base press release; Public Release.

Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Lockheed X-62A VISTA Active Flying Testbed Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Lockheed X-62A VISTA Active Flying Testbed Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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