ST. LOUIS, June 08, 2004 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] started assembling its Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) X-45C aircraft today, loading the aft "carry-through" frame into a holding fixture inside the company's St. Louis manufacturing facility. The 86-pound aluminum part, which spans the back end of the vehicle, will soon be mated with the two X-45 engine keels.
Boeing previously built two X-45A vehicles, which are currently being flight-tested at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The much larger X-45C will be 39 feet long with a 49-foot wingspan and is scheduled for first flight in mid-2006.
To help improve reliability, quality and also reduce costs, Boeing has incorporated lessons learned from building the "A" vehicles, as well as best practices from across the company, resulting in an extremely lean manufacturing process.
"Thanks to advanced design and manufacturing techniques coupled with our lean processes, we expect the X-45C parts to come together easily and quickly," said Darryl Davis, Boeing J-UCAS X-45 program manager. "On both the A and C vehicles, we've greatly reduced the amount of expensive hard tooling needed and we are using laser tracking for more efficient assembly."
The J-UCAS X-45 program is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy/Boeing effort to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value of a networked system of unmanned air vehicles for both the Air Force and the Navy. Operational missions for the services may include suppression of enemy air defenses; deep strike; electronic attack; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The X-45C vehicle will be able to cruise at 0.85 Mach, with a 4,500-pound payload, and fly at 40,000 feet with a mission radius of 1,300 nautical miles.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $27 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.
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