August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Cover Story

Unmanned vehicles and ‘Stealth’

Unmanned vehicles and ‘Stealth’

The plot of the new movie “Stealth” focuses on an unmanned combat air vehicle that goes out of control. Here’s a look at what UAVs do in the film—and what real-life unmanned combat aircraft, such as the Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) X-45, can do.

Fiction: Unmanned aircraft systems, like Extreme Deep Invader (EDI) in “Stealth,” will replace the need for aircraft flown by pilots.

Fact: Unmanned combat aircraft, such as the J-UCAS X-45, will complement manned aircraft—not replace them. They can perform critical combat missions like persistent strike, electronic attack and the suppression of enemy air defenses without placing pilots at risk. Pilots can then prosecute higher-priority missions.

Fiction: In “Stealth,” an EDI unmanned aircraft rewires itself after being struck by lightning.

Fact: The Boeing X-45 will not rewire itself. With more than 50 missions in the past three years, the X-45A is a proven and reliable unmanned system managed by a pilot on the ground. If something should happen to it while in flight, the aircraft would return to its takeoff location automatically.

Fiction: The EDI disobeys the orders of humans.

Fact: The Boeing X-45 always has a “person-in-the-loop” who controls the decisions of the unmanned combat vehicle. The X-45 must receive pilot approval before it can release weapons. Boeing successfully demonstrated the X-45A’s ability to release a precision weapon, while under human supervision, in April 2004.

—Bill Barksdale

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