The McDonnell Douglas X-36 Tailless Fighter Agility Research Aircraft was a subscale prototype jet designed to fly without the traditional tail surfaces common on most aircraft.
For control, a canard forward of the wing was used as well as split ailerons and an advanced thrust vectoring nozzle for directional control. The X-36 was unstable in both pitch and yaw axes, so an advanced digital fly-by-wire control system was put in place to stabilize the aircraft.
The X-36 was built to approximately one-quarter scale of a possible fighter aircraft, and controlled by a pilot in a ground station virtual cockpit with a view provided by a video camera mounted in the nose of the aircraft.
The X-36 is a scaled-down representation of a theoretical advanced fighter aircraft configuration. The extreme maneuverability and stable nature at both ends of the speed envelope would make it ideal for use as a fighter.
Despite the potential suitability, as of 2005 there have been no announcements by Boeing or any government agency regarding the X-36's development as a fighter.
Using a video camera mounted in the nose of the aircraft and an onboard microphone, the X-36 was remotely controlled by a pilot in a ground station virtual cockpit. A standard fighter-type head-up display (HUD) and a moving-map representation of the vehicle's position within the range in which it flew provided excellent situational awareness for the pilot. This pilot-in-the-loop approach eliminated the need for expensive and complex autonomous flight control systems and the risks associated with their inability to deal with unknown or unforeseen phenomena in flight.