Boeing X-45

Boeing X-45

The Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) is a concept demonstrator for a next generation of completely autonomous fighter aircraft, developed by Boeing's Phantom Works (a Skunk Works-like division acquired through McDonnell Douglas).


Boeing X-45

Boeing developed the X-45 from research gathered during the development of the Bird of Prey. The X-45 features an extremely low-profile dorsal intake placed near the leading edge of the aircraft. The center fuselage is blended into swept lambda wing, with a small exhaust outlet. It has no vertical control surfaces - split ailerons near each wingtip function as asymmetric air brakes, providing rudder control, much as in Northrop's flying wings.

 

Boeing X-45

 

Removing the pilot and its associated facilities dramatically reduces the aircraft's cost. Operators may remotely command the aircraft, but the actual piloting is autonomous.
Boeing built two of the model X-45A, both were scaled-down proof-of-concept aircraft. The larger X-45B design was modified to have even more fuel capacity and three times greater combat range, becoming the X-45C. Each wing's leading edge spans from the nose to the wingtip, giving the aircraft more wing area, very similar to the B-2 Spirit.
The X-45A had its first flight on May 22, 2002. The first generation of UCAVs are primarily planned for air-to-ground roles with defensive air-to-air capabilities coupled with significant remote piloting. On April 18, 2004, the X-45A's first bombing run test at Edwards Air Force Base was successful.


Boeing X-45

On February 4, 2005, on their 50th flight, the two X-45As took off into a patrol pattern and were then alerted to the presence of a target. The X-45As then autonomously determined which vehicle held the optimum position, weapons, and fuel load to properly attack the target. After making that decision, one of the X-45As changed course and the pilot-operator allowed it to attack the simulated antiaircraft emplacement. Following a successful strike, another simulated threat, this time disguised, emerged and was subsequently destroyed by the second X-45A. This demonstrated the ability of these vehicles to autonomously work as a team and manage their resources, as well as to fly themselves to previously-undetected targets, which is significantly harder than following a predetermined attack path.

Boeing X-45


Links:
http://www.codeonemagazine.com
http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov
http://www.edwards.af.mil
http://www.globalaircraft.org
http://www.drivearchive.co.uk
http://users.dbscorp.net
http://www.fas.org

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(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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