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Boeing X-45C Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle - Courtesy Boeing
The DoD continues work on its X-45C UAV and has called for an unmanned heavy bomber by 2020

When it comes to the future of military aircraft, unmanned planes seems to be where the United States is heading. The Department of Defense has been extremely impressed with the performance of the X-45A test program along with the combat performance of the unmmanned Predator drone. The US Air Force and Navy are currently developing the next generation X-45C UAV and it is quite an impressive platform in its own right.

The X-45C, an outgrowth of the developmental X-45A, uses a composite skin over an aluminum frame and incorporates stealth techniques pioneered on the F-117 Nighthawk and carried forward on the B-2 Spirit and F-22A Raptor. It has a cruising speed of 650MPH, a service ceiling of 40,000 feet and an operational range of 1,300 miles. The X-45C is also capable of carrying eight 250 lb bombs in its internal weapons bay. The estimated cost for each plane is $30 million (compared to for a $133 million single F-22A Raptor).

The military plans on taking UAV's a step further by year 2020 with a next generation unmanned heavy bomber. America's current heavy bombers include the B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Superfortress (aka BUFF) so the size of this thing must be enormous.



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RE: What if...
By Kuroyama on 1/27/2006 10:56:24 AM , Rating: 3
And what happens when the pilot sees guns fired on the ground, mistakes them as being fired at him, and in panic drops bombs without permission? Like say a certain Air Force pilot who killed several Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. At least with an unmanned vehicle the controller will be less likely to panic and do something he's not supposed to, so I think this will be safer for those on the ground.

However, somehow it feels wrong to kill people with no risk at all to oneself. Imagine when totalitarian states get ahold of say a remote control tank. They will be able to kill with little risk of mutiny, as killing little people on a video screen will not have the same effect on a soldier as actually standing in front of a civilian and shooting them.


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