Boeing Frontiers
May 2003
Volume 02, Issue 01
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Cover Story

Unmanned Potential

Where Boeing stands in Unmanned Systems

Boeing is currently participating in several Unmanned Systems projects, ranging from an unmanned combat helicopter to a small high-endurance surveillance vehicle.

X-45C Airforce / C45-C Navy

X-45C Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

In response the evolving needs of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S Navy, Boeing is modifying its earlier X-45C Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle designs for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, respectively, to develop the X-45C system capable of meeting the demonstration objectives of both services. Boeing's modified concept will be called the X-45C, both for the Air Force and the Navy. Meanwhile, two X-45A demonstrators will continue with a flight-test program designed to demonstrate UCAV capabilities for conducting suppression of enemy air defense missions. X-45C Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

• The X-45C Air Force design will be based on the subsystems and center body of the current X-45B design—the larger follow-on to the X-45A—but it will incorporate a revised platform that carries more fuel and provides better aerodynamic performance, longer range and greater persistence over the battlefield. With its increased fuel volume, the X-45C will have a combat radius more than three times that of the X-45B carrying the same payload. Efforts to incorporate air-refueling capabilities under the Air Force's Automated Aerial Refueling program, also conducted by Boeing Phantom Works, will provide even greater UCAV range and loiter capability. The X-45C will also have a larger payload, including the ability to carry two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The Department of Defense expects to begin fielding UCAVs in about 2008.

• X-45C Navy design is similar to the Air Force X-45C, but it will include changes required to assess potential carrier suitability and other Navy-unique needs. These changes relate to structure, landing gear, a tailhook mechanism and advanced avionics required to demonstrate precision approach and landing. The Navy UCAV will provide surveillance, suppression of enemy air defense and deep strike. It, too, would have low acquisition, operations and support costs. Like that of the Air Force, the Navy UCAV system consists of an air vehicle, mission control station and support elements. Projections are for a system that could operate in 2010.

X-50A Canard Rotor/Wing
Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle concept

X-50A Canard Rotor/Wing

Having completed ground tests, the X-50A, demonstrator for the next-generation, high-speed vertical-takeoff-and-landing CRW aircraft, will soon undergo flight testing. Capable of being configured for manned and unmanned operations, the CRW could perform such missions as reconnaissance, armed escort, tactical air support, communications/data relay and logistics resupply. The CRW combines the hover efficiency and lowspeed flight characteristics of a helicopter with the high-subsonic cruise speed of a fixed-wing aircraft.

Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle concept

Boeing and Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Consortium received a $5.5 million contract in July 2002 to build and test a prototype unmanned ground combat vehicle that can operate on all types of terrain. The vehicle, named Spinner, will be able to operate while inverted, move swiftly over major obstacles and withstand a moderate crash and rapidly recover. Boeing, in Seattle, built the vehicle's frame, hull, nose and payload compartment. Carnegie Mellon manages the program and completed the vehicle's final assembly in Pittsburgh. Two Army-specific tests are scheduled for late 2003.

Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft

Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft

In May 2002, Boeing was among four competing teams, with six companies participating, to receive contracts from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to conduct a 12- month concept development study for a U.S. Army UCAR. The goal is to develop and demonstrate the capability to conduct sustained armed reconnaissance and attack missions. DARPA will choose two contractors for a nine-month preliminary design phase, followed by a system development phase that will yield two prototype vehicles. Ultimately, the Army expects to field the system between 2010 and 2012.



Boeing and the Insitu Group signed a contract in early 2002 to develop and build a prototype long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle. ScanEagle made its first autonomous flight June 19, 2002. The four-foot-long vehicle has a 10-foot wingspan and can fly at speeds of up to 68 knots. In January 2003, ScanEagle participated in the Navy's Giant Shadow exercise, demonstrating the ability to relay real-time data and provide video to other exercise participants. Boeing sees a number of different surveillance and communication roles for this small, low-cost UAV in the military, homeland security and commercial arenas.


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