The X-29 was built to explore
state-of-the-art technologies in aircraft design. The most easily
identified of these, the forward-swept wing (FSW) was combined with
advanced materials, a forward mounted elevator (canard) and an electrical
flight control system. The purpose of this combination of features was to
test how well all these elements worked together before they were used in
Both Germany and the U.S. experimented
with FSW aircraft during World War II but did not use them operationally.
One problem with the new design was that the wings could not be made rigid
enough to keep them from bending dangerously at higher speeds. In the
1970s, however, composite materials became available, and wing structures
could be built that were both lightweight and very rigid.
Grumman began building the first of two
X-29As in 1982. The program was administered by the U.S. Air Force and
jointly funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),
the Air Force, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Span: 27 ft. 2 in.
Length: 48 ft. 1 in.
Height: 14 ft. 3 in.
Weight: 17,303 lbs. maximum
Engine: General Electric F404 turbofan engine of 16,000 lbs. thrust
Serial number: 82-003
Maximum speed: 1,200 mph.
Cruising speed: 460 mph.
Maximum Endurance: 60 minutes
Service Ceiling: 55,000 ft.