General Dynamics F-16 VISTA

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3 three thrust-vectoring aircraft.jpg
The VISTA/MATV aircraft in formation with the X-31 (middle) and the F/A-18 HARV (top)
Role Experimental fighter
Manufacturer General Dynamics
(later Lockheed Martin) and
Number built 1
Developed from General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

The General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 VISTA ("Variable stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft") is an experimental aircraft, derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was modified as a joint venture between General Dynamics and Calspan for use by the USAF.

The F-16 VISTA testbed aircraft incorporated a multi-axis thrust vectoring (MATV) engine nozzle that provides for more active control of the aircraft in a post-stall situation. The resulting aircraft is supermaneuverable, retaining pitch and yaw control at angles of attack beyond which the traditional control surfaces cannot change attitude.[citation needed]

The VISTA program was considered successful, but the thrust vector control (TVC) never made it into production fighter versions.[citation needed]

The program was also notable for the development of Direct Voice Input and the "Virtual HUD", which were both eventually to be incorporated into the cockpit design for the F-35 Lightning II.[1] The STOVL F-35 variants also incorporate MATV while hovering to provide attitude control.[citation needed]

The VISTA aircraft is now operated and maintained by Calspan for the US Air Force Test Pilot School out of Edwards Air Force Base, CA. It is regularly used in student curriculum sorties, and other special academic projects.


The F-16 VISTA is a Block 30 F-16D based on the airframe design of the Israel Air Force version, which incorporates a dorsal fairing running the length of the fuselage aft of the canopy and a heavyweight landing gear derived from the Block 40 F-16C/D. The fairing houses most of the variable-stability equipment and test instrumentation. The heavyweight gear will permit simulation of aircraft with higher landing sink rates than a standard F-16.

Orthographically projected diagram of the F-16.

Data from USAF fact sheet[2] AerospaceWeb[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (pilot and safety pilot)[4]
  • Length: 48 ft 7 in (14.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 32 ft 2 in (9.8 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m)
  • Wing area: 300 sq ft (28 m2)
  • Airfoil: NACA 64A204 root and tip
  • Empty weight: 18,238 lb (8,273 kg)
  • Gross weight: 26,463 lb (12,003 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 42,300 lb (19,187 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F110 afterburning turbofan, 14,590 lbf (64.9 kN) thrust dry, 23,770 lbf (105.7 kN) with afterburner


  • Maximum speed: 1,303 kn; 2,414 km/h (1,500 mph)
At sea level: Mach 1.2 (915 mph, 1,460 km/h)
At altitude: Mach 2+
  • Ferry range: 2,800 nmi (3,200 mi; 5,200 km) with 3× 370 US gal (1,401 l) drop tanks
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m) +
  • Rate of climb: 50,000 ft/min (250 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 88.2 lb/sq ft (431 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.095

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


External links