X-62 VISTA
The NF-16D (now X-62A) VISTA in 2019 after receiving a new paint scheme designed by aviation artist Mike Machat
Role Experimental aircraft
Manufacturer General Dynamics
(later Lockheed Martin) and
Calspan
First flight April 1992[1]
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 1
Developed from General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

The General Dynamics X-62 VISTA ("Variable Stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft")[2] is an experimental aircraft, derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was modified as a joint venture between General Dynamics and Calspan for use by the United States Air Force (USAF). Originally designated NF-16D, the aircraft was redesignated X-62A on 14 June 2021 as part of an upgrade to a Skyborg, with System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS).[3]

X-62A remains on the curriculum of the Air Force Test Pilot School as a practice aircraft for test pilots.[3]

Design and development

The General Dynamics VISTA/MATV NF-16D in 1994
The General Dynamics VISTA/MATV NF-16D in 1994

The NF-16D VISTA testbed aircraft incorporated a multi-axis thrust vectoring (MATV) engine nozzle that provides for more active control of the aircraft in a post-stall situation. As a result, the aircraft is supermaneuverable, retaining pitch and yaw control at angles of attack beyond which the traditional control surfaces cannot change attitude.[citation needed]

The NF-16D VISTA is a Block 30 F-16D based on the airframe design of the Israeli Air Force version, which incorporates a dorsal fairing running the length of the fuselage aft of the canopy and a heavyweight landing gear derived from the Block 40 F-16C/D. The fairing houses most of the variable-stability equipment and test instrumentation. The heavyweight gear permits simulation of aircraft with higher landing sink rates than a standard F-16.[citation needed]

The program was notable for the development of Direct Voice Input and the "Virtual HUD", which were both eventually to be incorporated into the cockpit design for the F-35 Lightning II.[4]

The VISTA aircraft is now operated by the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and maintained by Calspan at Edwards Air Force Base. It is regularly used in student curriculum sorties, special academic projects, and flight research.[3] As of 14 June 2021 VISTA is in the midst of upgrading. The VISTA Simulation System (VSS) will be replaced by System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS) in order to operate X-62A as a Skyborg. One application is as autonomously piloted aircraft, perhaps as robotic wingman to a manned aircraft.[3]

Specifications

Data from USAF fact sheet[5] AerospaceWeb[6]

General characteristics

Performance

At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,460 km/h)
At altitude: Mach 2+

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

References

  1. ^ Simonsen, Erik (2016). A Complete History of U.S. Combat Aircraft Fly-Off Competitions. Forest Lake, MN: Specialty Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-58007-227-4.
  2. ^ "New VISTA paint scheme gets artist's approval". USAF. 20 March 2019
  3. ^ a b c d Giancarlo Casem (30 Jul 2021) NF-16D VISTA becomes X-62A, paves way for Skyborg autonomous flight tests
  4. ^ F-16 Versions - F-16 VISTA / MATV / NF-16D
  5. ^ F-16 USAF fact sheet
  6. ^ F-16 page on aerospaceweb.org
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2009-09-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF fighter designations 1924–1962, and Tri-Service post-1962 systems