The EurAsian Times published an article about “most impressive” aircraft in the history of aviation, which possessed extraordinary characteristics, but never entered mass production.
By the late 1970s. in the American military department they became more and more clearly aware of the need to modernize military aviation, including taking into account new opportunities, discovered by the use of composite materials and advances in electronics. Just like now, the Agency for Advanced Defense Research and Development was responsible for the latest developments in the military department (DARPA). His managers started looking for a company, which would be able to fulfill a production order 2 innovative aircraft. The order value was estimated at 87 million dollars.
TO 1981 DAPRA decided on a contractor. It was Grumman Aerospace. Now it is – Northrop Grumman Corporation headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. It is rightly considered one of the three pillars of the US aviation industry and competes on equal terms with such "monsters" of the aircraft industry as Boeing or Lockheed Martin..
It was Grumman in December 1981 g. received a contract for the production of two aircraft and started its implementation. It took only three years for the company's specialists, to develop a prototype aircraft, which the author of the EurAsian Times Mansij Astkhan called the most impressive aircraft in the history of world military aviation.
The experimental aircraft was named the X-29. It was made in a duck pattern – all-turning front horizontal tail of trapezoidal shape and wing of negative sweep. The root part of the wing in the tail part turns into an elongated influx, flap-ending, related to the aircraft aerodynamic control system.
Due to the complex geometry of the wings, the plane turned out to be extremely maneuverable and light. The air flow over the wings with a straight sweep was directed inward, to the base of the wing, not outside, to the wingtip, as it happens on a wing with a rear sweep.
X-29 has become a vivid demonstration of unusual and, in some cases, promising design solutions: digital flight control system, aeroelastic design, front ducks, composite materials, used throughout the aircraft,
– says American analyst Mark Episkopos.
AT 1984 year X-29 made its first flight, after which during 2 years passed tests lasting more than three hours. In total, the Kh-29 completed 422 research flights, during which experts studied and analyzed many indicators of maneuverability and controllability of an air vehicle.
However, in mass production and, Consequently, the plane never entered service with the American military aviation. The main reason, according to which the military department abandoned the idea of mass production of the X-29, was in a high risk of structural failure. Straight swept wing design was considered so dangerous, that only now modern computer systems can ensure the operability of such an aircraft. It was extremely difficult to do this at the time..
If all three on-board digital on-board computers were out of order at the same time, X-29 would be torn apart so quickly, that the pilot wouldn't even have the ability to eject,
– emphasizes historian Christian Geltzer.
but, although the X-29 was never accepted into service, some technologies, for the first time tested, are now widely used in the production of modern fighters. In particular, it was the X-29 that gave rise to the widespread use of composite materials to reduce the total weight of the air vehicle.
The prototype itself is an X-29A aircraft with a serial number. 82-0003 - can always be seen in the public display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB near the city of Dayton (Ohio).
used photos:Wikipedia / NASA; Wikipedia / U.S. Air Force