Highly Modified Air Force Test Pilot School F-16 Falcon Is Now An X-Plane, the X-62A

Lockheed F-16 X-Plane X-62A Falcon

The heavily modified F-16 gets a new advanced mission after decades of supporting aerospace research and test pilot production.
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The U.S. Air Force has redesignated its NF-16D Falcon Variable-stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, or VISTA, as the X-62A. This new X-plane nomenclature, something typically applied to purely experimental aircraft and other aerospace vehicles, is meant to better reflect this aircraft’s current role as a multi-purpose test platform as the service prepares to make new modifications to it so that it can support the Skyborg program. Skyborg is focused on developing a suite of artificial intelligence-driven technologies and associated systems that will together form a “computer brain” able to fly “loyal wingman” type drones and potentially migrate to other designs, including fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs.

The public affairs office for the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California announced the designation change on Friday, July 30th. The Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards, in cooperation with Calspan, operates the VISTA jet. This highly modified, one-of-a-kind F-16D Viper fighter is also now part of a newly created Research Division within the Test Pilot School.