Notice that it has no horizontal stabilizer, but it does have strakes and canards. The digital flight control system input thrust vectoring commands to achieve stability and maneuverability in the pitch and yaw axes. During one portion of the test program, the quasi tailless testing, rudder inputs were programmed to counteract the stabilizing effect of the vertical tail to simulate flight with no tail surfaces.
Airplanes by Design features photographs of aircraft from a test pilot perspective, highlighting aeronautical engineering characteristics and flight test facts. To see all of the these pictures (and many more of this aircraft and it’s unique design characteristics), click here. You will always be able to access any of these pictures by selecting the Flickr icon in the top menu bar.
Click here to read more about this airplane. NASA also has an extensive collection of X-31 movies here. You can read more about the quasi tailless flight test of the X-31 in the complete test report here.
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