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US Navy options for X-31 follow-on

The US Navy is exploring options for a follow-on programme to the X-31 Vectoring Extremely short take-off and landing Control and Tailless Operational Research (VECTOR) aircraft. It continues to discuss with Spain installation of ITP's axisymmetric thrust-vectoring nozzle.

The 25-month joint US/German funded programme has been finalised and is closed to further international participation. It will focus on high angle of attack landings and take-offs, testing of a new advanced air data system and data gathering for future tailless/reduced tail trials.

"Spain is looking to integrate the ITP nozzle and we are talking to them already about a follow-on programme, post-VECTOR," says Jennifer Young, US Navy VECTOR programme manager. It could take the form of a collaborative programme or Spain leasing time on the test aircraft, depending on available funding.

Replacement of the X-31's thrust-vectoring paddles was dropped from VECTOR after Sweden failed to fund the installation of the General Electric axisymmetric vectoring exhaust nozzle to the jet's F404 engine.

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