X-31A Test Vehicle

X-31A test vehicleThe X-31A VECTOR (Vectoring ESTOL Control Tailless Operation Research) is the world's first international X-plane and was originally flown under the auspices of the EFM (Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability) program during the 1990s.

It resumed flights in January 2000 as a joint venture between prime contractor Boeing Phantom Works, the U.S. Navy, Germany's defence procurement agency (BWB) and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) company.

The primary goal of the VECTOR program is to demonstrate extremely short-takeoff-and-landing (ESTOL) capabilities, and its flight-test program has three phases. Phase I successfully performed functional checkout of the X-31A. The thrust-vectoring aircraft resumed flying under Phase II on May 17, 2002, at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.

Phase II evaluates ESTOL flight control software, precision position measurement performance of the Integrity Beacon Landing System, avionics integration of triplex INS/GPS and triplex air data computers, autopilot, ESTOL heads-up display functions, and the Advanced Air Data System. Phase III will focus on ESTOL demonstrations to an actual runway.

First flight: Oct. 11, 1990
Wingspan: 23.83 feet
Length: 43.33 feet
Takeoff weight: 16,100 pounds, including 4,100 pounds of fuel
Power plant: General Electric F404-GE-400 turbofan engine, producing 16,000 pounds of thrust in afterburner
Design speed: Mach 0.9
Design altitude: 40,000 feet
Thrust-vectoring test speed: Mach 1.28