From the placard at the NASA Ames Visitor's Center:
This is one of two remotely-piloted High Maneuverability Advanced Technology (HiMAT) aircraft that were built in the late 1970s. They were designed to study the technology requirement to increase the maneuverability of fighter aircraft. The HiMATs were designed around a core vehicle to which new wings, control surfaces, engine intakes, and vectored nozzles could be added.

The HiMAT was carried aloft under the wing of the NASA B-52, just as the hypersonic X-15 had been. Once at the proper altitude, the HiMAT was released and then flown by a pilot sitting in a ground-based cockpit, using a radio link with the aircraft. A backup pilot could control the aircraft from the rear seat of the chase aircraft, if need be. A video camera, mounted in the nose of the HiMAT, was used by the pilot to help with landing. Each flight ended when the landing skids brought the HiMAT to a stop on the dry lake bed.

The HiMATs were built much smaller than full size aircraft, to reduce the cost of the program and to speed design and fabrication time. Because they were remotely piloted, the HiMATs could make turns that would cause a pilot on board to pass out from the stress of the high Gs being flown. During the four-year flight test program, HiMAT successfully demonstrated twice the maneuverability of the F-16.

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