|X-45A makes HISTORY
The Boeing X-45A Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle took to the skies May 22
above the Mojave Desert, marking the maiden flight of the worlds
first such plane built specifi-cally for combat.
The successful flight of the X-45A technology demonstrator clears the
way for further testing, new refinements and a larger, more capable B-model
already under development.
The X-45A has a stealthy, tailless airframe with a 34-foot wingspan. It
weighs 8,000 pounds empty and will carry a variety of precision strike
munitions including the Small Diameter Bomb and the GPS-guided Joint Direct
Attack Munition. Other smaller unmanned air vehicles, which have been
flown operationally in military operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan
and elsewhere, were originally designed for surveillance and later adapted
to carry weapons.
Shorter, slower, better
The U.S. Navy has long dreamed of making carrier landings safer, more
operationally efficient, and less wearing on the structure and aircraft
The answer may lie in the X-31 thrust-vectoring technology demonstrator.
This aircraft, which recently resumed flights at Naval Air Station Patuxent
River, Md., under the second phase of the VECTOR technology demonstration
program, will be able to land at 150 knots, versus the typical 165 knots,
and at a 20-degree angle of attack, versus the normal 12 degrees.