List of X-planes

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Bell X-1-2

The X-planes are a series of experimental United States airplanes and helicopters (and some rockets) used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts. Most of the X-planes have been operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) or, later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), often in conjunction with the United States Air Force. The majority of X-Plane testing has occurred at Edwards Air Force Base.[1]

Some of the X-planes have been well publicized, while others, such as the X-16, have been developed in secrecy.[2] The first, the Bell X-1, became well known after it became, in 1947, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.[3] Later X-planes supported important research in a multitude of aerodynamic and technical fields, but only the North American X-15 rocket plane of the early 1960s achieved comparable fame to that of the X-1. X-planes 7 through 12 were actually missiles[4] (used to test new types of engines), and some other vehicles were un-piloted (some were remotely flown, some were full-on drones).

Most X-planes are not expected to go into full-scale production; one exception was the Lockheed Martin X-35, which competed against the Boeing X-32 during the Joint Strike Fighter Program, and has entered production as the F-35.[5]

Not all U.S. experimental aircraft have been designated as X-planes; some received U.S. Navy designations before 1962,[6] while others have been known only by manufacturers' designations,[N 1] non-'X'-series designations,[N 2] or classified codenames.[N 3]

NameManufacturer
Agency
ImageMaiden flightPurpose and Notes
X-1Bell Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Bell X-1 color.jpgJanuary 19, 1946High-speed and high-altitude testing.
First aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.
Proved aerodynamic viability of thin wing sections.[7]
X-2
"Starbuster"
Bell Aircraft
USAF
NASA1950s X-2 rocket plane 071203-F-9999J-033.jpgJune 27, 1952High-speed and high-altitude testing.
First aircraft to exceed Mach 3.[8]
X-3
Stiletto
Douglas Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Douglas X-3 NASA E-17348.jpgOctober 27, 1952Titanium alloy construction; low aspect ratio wings.
Planned to test long-duration high-speed flight.
Incapable of reaching design speed, but provided insights into inertia coupling.[9]
X-4
Bantam
Northrop
USAF, NACA
Northrop-X4-Bantam.jpgDecember 15, 1948Evaluated handling characteristics of tailless aircraft in the transonic speed region.[10]
X-5Bell Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Bell-X5-Multiple.jpgJune 20, 1951First aircraft to fly with variable geometry wings.[11]
X-6Convair
USAF, AEC
NB-36H producing contrails in flight.jpgNot flownModified Convair B-36 for study of Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion; not built.
NB-36H testbed tested reactor.[12]
X-7
"Flying Stove Pipe"
Lockheed
Tri-service
X-7 USAF.jpgApril 1951High-speed testbed for ramjet engines.[13]
X-8
Aerobee
Aerojet
NACA, USAF, USN
AerojetX8.jpgUpper air research vehicle and sounding rocket.[14]
X-9
Shrike
Bell Aircraft
USAF
Bell X-9 trailer.jpgApril 1949Guidance and propulsion technology testbed.
Assisted development of GAM-63 Rascal missile.[15]
X-10North American Aviation
USAF
North American X-10 runway.jpgOctober 13, 1953Testbed for SM-64 Navajo missile.[16]
X-11Convair
USAF
Convair X-11 launch.jpgJune 11, 1957Testbed for SM-65 Atlas missile.[17]
X-12Convair
USAF
Convair X-12 launch.JPGJuly, 1958Advanced testbed for SM-65 Atlas missile.[18]
X-13
Vertijet
Ryan Aeronautical
USAF, USN
Ryan X-13.jpgDecember 10, 1955Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) testbed.
Evaluated tailsitting configuration for VTOL flight.[19]
X-14Bell Aircraft
USAF, NASA
Bell X-14 colour ground.jpgFebruary 19, 1957VTOL testbed.
Examined the vectored thrust configuration for VTOL flight.[20]
X-15North American Aviation
USAF, NASA
X-15 in flight.jpgJune 8, 1959Hypersonic (Mach 6.7), high-altitude (350,000 feet (110,000 m)) testing.
First manned hypersonic aircraft; capable of suborbital spaceflight.[21]
X-16Bell Aircraft
USAF
Never flewHigh-altitude reconnaissance aircraft project.[22]
"X-16" designation used as cover story.[23]
X-17Lockheed
USAF, USN
Lockheed X-17 horizontal.jpgApril 1956Tested the effects of high Mach number reentry.[24]
X-18Hiller Aircraft
USAF, USN
Hiller X-18 testplatformLarge.jpgNovember 24, 1959VTOL/Short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) testbed.
Evaluated the tiltwing concept for VTOL flight.[25]
X-19Curtiss-Wright
Tri-service
Curtiss-Wright X-19 flying.jpgNovember 1963Tandem tiltrotor VTOL transport testbed.[26]
XC-143 designation proposed.[27]
X-20
Dyna-Soar
Boeing
USAF
NASA Color Dyna Soar.jpgNever builtReusable spaceplane for military missions.[28]
X-21Northrop
USAF
X21A.jpgApril 18, 1963Boundary layer control testbed.[29]
X-22Bell Aircraft
Tri-service
X-22a onground bw.jpgMarch 17, 1966Quad ducted fan tiltrotor STOVL testbed.[30]
X-23
PRIME
Martin Marietta
USAF
X23 PRIME.JPGDecember 21, 1966Maneuvering atmospheric reentry effects testbed.[31]
Note: Designation never officially assigned.[32]
X-24Martin Marietta
USAF, NASA
X24.jpg
X24B.jpg
August 1, 1973Low-speed lifting body handling testbed.
Lifting body aerodynamic shape trials.[33]
X-25Benson
USAF
X-25.jpgDecember 6, 1955Light autogyro for emergency use by downed pilots.[34]
X-26
Frigate
Schweizer
DARPA, US Army, USN
X-26 sailplane.jpg
QT-2PCs in STAAF, RVN Hanger c1968.jpg
1967
Training glider for yaw-roll coupling
Quiet observation aircraft testbed.[35]
X-27LockheedX-27 mockup.jpgNever flewHigh performance fighter prototype.[36]
X-28
Sea Skimmer
Osprey Aircraft
USN
X-28 on ground.jpgAugust 12, 1970Inexpensive aerial policing seaplane testbed.[37]
X-29Grumman
DARPA, USAF, NASA
Grumman-X29-InFlight.jpg1984Forward-swept wing testbed.[38]
X-30
NASP
Rockwell
NASA, DARPA, USAF
X-30 NASP 2.jpgNever builtSingle stage to orbit spaceplane prototype.[39]
X-31Rockwell
DARPA, USAF, BdV
Rockwell-MBB X-31 landing.JPG1990Thrust vectoring supermaneuverability testbed.
ESTOL testbed.[40]
X-32Boeing
USAF, USN, RAF
USAF X32B 250.jpgSeptember 2000Joint Strike Fighter prototype.[41]
X-33
Venture Star
Lockheed Martin
NASA
X-33 Venture Star in Orbit.jpgPrototype never completedHalf-scale reusable launch vehicle prototype.[42]
X-34Orbital Sciences
NASA
Orbital Sciences X34.jpgNever flewReusable unmanned spaceplane testbed.[43]
X-35Lockheed Martin
USAF, USN, RAF
X-35.jpg2000Joint Strike Fighter prototype.[44]
X-36McDonnell Douglas/Boeing
NASA
Boeing-X36-InFlight.jpgMay 17, 199728% scale tailless fighter testbed.[45]
X-37Boeing
USAF, NASA
Boeing X-37B inside payload fairing before launch.jpgApril 7, 2006 (drop test)
April 22, 2010 (orbital flight)
Reusable orbital spaceplane.[46]
X-38Scaled Composites
NASA
ISS Crew Return Vehicle.jpg1999Lifting body Crew Return Vehicle demonstrator.[47]
X-39Unknown
USAF
ClassifiedUnknownFuture Aircraft Technology Enhancements (FATE) program.[48]
Note: Designation never officially assigned.[32]
X-40Boeing
USAF, NASA
Boeing X40A.jpgAugust 11, 199880% scale Space Maneuver Vehicle testbed.
X-37 prototype.[49]
X-41Unknown
USAF
ClassifiedUnknownManeuvering re-entry vehicle.[50]
X-42Unknown
USAF
ClassifiedUnknownExpendable liquid propellant upper stage rocket.[51]
X-43
Hyper-X
Micro Craft
NASA
X-43 NASA.jpgJune 2, 2001Scramjet hypersonic testbed (Mach 9.68) (110,000 ft).[52]
X-44
MANTA
Lockheed Martin
USAF, NASA
CancelledF-22-based Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft thrust vectoring testbed.[53]
X-45Boeing
DARPA, USAF
Boeing X-45A UCAV.jpg
Airshowfan-dot-com--by-Bernardo-Malfitano--Image2-of-X45C-mockup-at-Nellis-05.jpg
May 22, 2002Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator.[54]
X-46Boeing
DARPA, USN
X46.jpgCancelledNaval UCAV demonstrator.[55]
X-47A Pegasus
X-47B
Northrop Grumman
DARPA, USN
X-47A rollout.jpgFebruary 23, 2003Naval UCAV demonstrator.[56]
X-48Boeing
NASA
ED06-0198-62.jpgJuly 20, 2007Blended Wing Body (BWB) testbed.[57]
X-49
Speedhawk
Piasecki Aircraft
US Army
Piasecki X-49-3.jpgJuly 29, 2007Compound helicopter
Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) testbed.[58]
X-50
Dragonfly
Boeing
DARPA
Boeing X-50A.jpg24 November 2003Canard Rotor/Wing testbed.[59]
X-51
Waverider
Boeing
USAF
X51waverider.jpg26 May 2010[60]Hypersonic scramjet demonstrator.[61]
X-52Number skipped to avoid confusion with B-52.[32]
X-53Boeing Phantom Works
NASA, USAF
EC03-0039-1.jpgNovember 2002Active Aeroelastic Wing testbed.[62]
X-54Gulfstream Aerospace
NASA
FutureSupersonic transport testbed.[58]
X-55Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
USAF
Lockheed Martin X-55 ACCA 001.jpgJune 2, 2009Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA).
Molded composite fuselage and empennage testbed.[63]
X-56Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
USAF/NASA
Lockheed Martin X-56A.jpg2012Active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation technology for potential use in future high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) reconnaissance aircraft.[64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ For example, the Piasecki PA-97
  2. ^ For example, the NASA AD-1 and Bell XV-15
  3. ^ For example, the Northrop Tacit Blue
Citations
  1. ^ "X-Planes Experimental Aircraft". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  2. ^ Miller 2001, p. 209
  3. ^ "First Generation X-1". NASA Dryden Fact Sheets. NASA. Accessed May 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Miller 2001
  5. ^ A history of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, Martin-Baker. Retrieved January 2010
  6. ^ "D-558-I" NASA Dryden Fact Sheets. NASA. Accessed May 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 5–7.
  8. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 8.
  9. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 9.
  10. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 10.
  11. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 11.
  12. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 12.
  13. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 13.
  14. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 14.
  15. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 15.
  16. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 16.
  17. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 17.
  18. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 18.
  19. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 19.
  20. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 20.
  21. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 21–22.
  22. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 23.
  23. ^ "X-16". globalsecurity.org, accessed 11 May 2010.
  24. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 24.
  25. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 25.
  26. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 26.
  27. ^ Baugher 2007
  28. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 27.
  29. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 28.
  30. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 29.
  31. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 30.
  32. ^ a b c Parsch 2009, "Missing Designations"
  33. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 31–32.
  34. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 33.
  35. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 34.
  36. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 35.
  37. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 36.
  38. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 37.
  39. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 38.
  40. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 39.
  41. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 40–41.
  42. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 42.
  43. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 43.
  44. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 44–45.
  45. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 46.
  46. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 47.
  47. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 48.
  48. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 49.
  49. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 50.
  50. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 51.
  51. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 52.
  52. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 53.
  53. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 54.
  54. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 55.
  55. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 56.
  56. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 57.
  57. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 58.
  58. ^ a b Parsch 2009, "DOD 4120.15-L"
  59. ^ Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 60.
  60. ^ "X-51 Waverider makes historic hypersonic flight". US AIr Force Public Affairs. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  61. ^ "X-51 Scramjet Engine Demonstrator - WaveRider" globalsecurity.org. Accessed 2010-05-11.
  62. ^ Jordan 2006
  63. ^ Kaufman 2009
  64. ^ Norris 2012
Bibliography

External links[edit]