The name Xeriant was derived by combining eXperimental, Electric and vaRIANT (a type or model of an aircraft within a particular family or category based on a general design, such as an experimental electric variant of an aircraft). Many of the most revolutionary aircraft, spacecraft, rockets and missiles over the past 70 years, which pioneered new aerospace technologies and aerodynamic concepts, have names beginning with an “X.” NASA refers to X-planes or X-vehicles as “a diverse group of aircraft designed by the sharpest minds in aviation and flown to test the next great barriers.”
An X designator within the U.S. system of aircraft designations indicates an experimental research mission. The U.S. government’s X-Plane Program dates back to the 1940’s, to a joint initiative between the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the U.S. Navy (USN), and the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) pursuing research into high-speed aircraft. NACA later became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the USAAF became the United States Air Force (USAF). Other organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) have also since sponsored numerous X-plane projects. Among the many issues currently being addressed by X-planes is sustainability.