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Grumman X-29


Forward-Swept Wing Technology Demonstrator


United States | 1982



"The unique Grumman X-29 design - with its forward-swept wings - was born from the existing airframe of the Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter series."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/26/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Grumman X-29 aircraft was a technology demonstrator appearing in the latter years of the Cold War (1947-1991). The design was of a most unique shape - made notable by its forward-swept wings - and was the first aircraft with such an arrangement to fly supersonically (the World War 2-era Junkers Ju 287 was the first jet to utilize forward-swept wings but only ever flew subsonically). The X-29 would serve as a flying testbed for seven years with a tenure beginning in 1984, providing much research in advanced wing concepts and moving canards.

Externally, the X-29 was a modified airframe belonging to the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter lightweight aircraft. The X-29 featured light-yet-rigid, composite-based, forward-swept monoplane wings emerging from the rear fuselage sides. The cockpit was situated well-forward in the fuselage with a largely unobstructed view out of the glass canopy for the sole pilot. The aircraft featured its canards at midships aft of the cockpit and ahead of the mainplanes. The empennage included a single vertical tailfin. No horizontal tailplanes were used as the mainplanes were seated far enough back to take their place. A single General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofan was used for propulsion and this outputting at 16,000lbs. All told, the aircraft could reach speeds of Mach 1.5+ and a ceiling of 55,000 feet. Its undercarriage supported components retained by the Northrop F-5 and also taken from a General Dynamics F-16 "Falcon".

The Grumman X-29 was an internally complex design centered around three redundant Fly-By-Wire (FBW) computers backed by three redundant analog computers. Fly-by-wire technology was necessary as the unconventional layout of the airframe proved to be highly unstable inflight without assistance. The redundancy of the systems assured that there would be no catastrophic failure of the subsystems while inflight and the analog arrangement directly backed up the digital suite to provide a further fail safe. The X-29 was a true testbed in every sense of the word, its fly-by-wire technology now commonplace to both military- and civilian-minded aircraft alike.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was the primary operator of the two X-29A demonstrators completed. These carried serial numbers 82-0003 and 82-0049. Their test regime spanned from 1984 through to 1991 before the project was officially ended. The aircraft pairing then went on to prove many aeronautic concepts viable and served to forward American military aviation into the following decade.

The two working examples themselves manage to survive their years of testing with one of the demonstrators ending its career as a showpiece at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The other resided at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB.

The National Air and Space Museum of Washington, D.C. displays a fiberglass scale model of the X-29 in its facility rafters.

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Cockpit
While traditional jobs involve workstations, office desks, or cubicles, aircraft provide operators with their own unique, ever-changing view of the world below.
Cockpit image
[ Click to Enlarge ]
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Grumman X-29A Forward-Swept Wing Technology Demonstrator.
1 x General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofan engine developing 16,000 lb of thrust.
Propulsion
1,131 mph
1,820 kph | 983 kts
Max Speed
55,118 ft
16,800 m | 10 miles
Service Ceiling
1,553 miles
2,500 km | 1,350 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Grumman X-29A Forward-Swept Wing Technology Demonstrator.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
48.2 ft
14.70 m
O/A Length
28.9 ft
(8.80 m)
O/A Width
14.1 ft
(4.30 m)
O/A Height
13,801 lb
(6,260 kg)
Empty Weight
17,791 lb
(8,070 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Grumman X-29 family line.
Grumman Model 712 / G-712 - Internal Grumman Company Designation.
X-29A - Base Developmentl Model of which 2 examples were produced and operated.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Grumman X-29. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 2 Units

Contractor(s): Grumman - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 1200mph
Lo: 600mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (1,131mph).

Graph Average of 900 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
2
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.
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Image of the Grumman X-29
Image courtesy of the NASA image gallery.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Grumman X-29 Forward-Swept Wing Technology Demonstrator appears in the following collections:
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