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NASA could put F-16XL back into the air

July 9, 2007 (by Jon Somerville) - NASA is looking into the possibility of returning one of the two F-16XLs back into flyable status.

F-16XL ship no. 1 (#849) in black/white color scheme landing after another test sortie [NASA photo]

Currently the F-16XLs have been kept in flyable storage for almost a decade. NASA hopes for an affordable Lockheed Martin contract, a study the cost of upgrading and returning Ship number 1, the single-seat F-16XL #75-0749 which wears NASA number 849, to flying condition. If all goes as planned the aircraft will be flying before the year is out. NASA wants the aircraft to help with research into sonic boom propagation and reduction.

NASA had used both aircraft in the past to study sonic boom and laminar flow as part its High Speed Research program, which was cancelled in 1999. Originally the F-16XL program came about as two prototypes and was offered to the USAF in a competition F-15E Strike Eagle.

Additional images:

Superb photograph of F-16XL ship no. 1 (#849) in black/white color scheme, with afterburner lit. [NASA photo]

F-16XL ship no. 1 (#849) in black/white color scheme over the Mojave desert [NASA photo]

F-16XL Ship no. 2 (#848) involved in supersonic laminar flow testing - note the active suction glove on the port wing. [NASA photo]
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