ST. LOUIS, Feb. 14, 2005 -- Boeing X-45As Reach 50th Flight with First Simulated Combat Mission
Imagine having a stealthy military aircraft capable of flying over enemy territory, ready to strike and destroy surprise threats immediately without any risk to American pilots. Two Boeing [NYSE: BA] Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems' (J-UCAS) X-45A unmanned aircraft demonstrated that capability Feb. 4 when they flew a simulated combat mission during their 50th flight at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
"With nearly three years of X-45A test experience completed, our next challenge was to show that our unmanned systems can handle the pop-up threats that are common in warfare," said Darryl Davis, Boeing J-UCAS X-45 vice president and program manager. "We've begun demonstrating that with this mission."
"While we continue flights at Edwards, we're also busy building the next generation of the X-45 family: the X-45C. Affordable and highly survivable, the X-45C will allow the warfighter to destroy enemy targets quickly."
The two X-45As began the latest test, known as Peacekeeper, by departing from Edwards and climbing to altitudes of 24,500 and 25,500 ft respectively. Separated by approximately 25 miles and operating at Mach .65 (225 knots), the jets began their combat air patrol (CAP) mission to provide airborne alert over the exercise area. Tasked with suppression of enemy air defenses, the two vehicles were given two simulated pop-up ground threats to eliminate.
Once alerted to the first threat, the X-45As 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 ground-based radar. Following a successful strike, another simulated threat emerged and was subsequently destroyed by the second X-45A. The two X-45As completed their mission and safely returned to Edwards.
The X-45A demonstration was preceded by a lengthy software integration and test process. Peacekeeper software underwent more than 2800 hours of testing in a high fidelity System Integration Laboratory. Flights of a T-33 X-45A surrogate prior to use on the X-45 vehicle further confirmed the software.
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 an unmanned air combat system for the Air Force and the Navy. Operational missions for the services may include persistent strike; penetrating electronic attack; suppression of enemy air defenses; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $30.5 billion business. It provides network-centric system solutions to its global military, government, and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; 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 and Department of Homeland Security; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.
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