November 8, 2000: First Flight X-45 Combat Drone

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The first Boeing X-45A (Air Vehicle No.1), dubbed “Blue,” arrived in a container aboard a C‑17 transport for testing by the Dryden Flight Research Center. Dryden was designated the Responsible Test Organization, and the Air Force Flight Test Center provided a Deputy Program Manager. The X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) was a joint Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Boeing project to demonstrate the feasibility of an unmanned weapon for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses mission.

The Boeing X-45 unmanned combat air vehicle is a concept demonstrator for a next generation of completely autonomous military aircraft, developed by Boeing's Phantom Works. Manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, the X-45 was a part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Joint Unmanned Combat Air System project.

Boeing developed the X-45 from research gathered during the development of the Bird of Prey. The X-45 features an extremely low-profile dorsal intake placed near the leading edge of the aircraft. The center fuselage is blended into a swept lambda wing, with a small exhaust outlet. It has no vertical control surfaces — split ailerons near each wingtip function as asymmetric air brakes, providing rudder control, much as in Northrop's flying wings.  Removing the pilot and its associated facilities from the aircraft dramatically reduces the aircraft's cost. Ground-based pilots execute the higher level decisions, but the mechanical flying of the aircraft is autonomous.

News Search