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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 bldckstark on 1/27/2006 1:27:07 PM , Rating: 2
I believe this type of RC plane is directed by signals from satellite. Kinda hard to jam that unless they are doing it from space, besides the plane can fly itself home if it loses the signal. Jamming signals is not as easy as it sounds. When you consider the transmissions change frequencies faster than you can turn a dial, the redundancy of Tx and Rx on different freqs at the same time, etc., you may start to understand the difficulties involved.

As for the rest of the arguments, this is not a robot plane, it is more like an RC plane. There is a human at the controls throughout the flight. There is a pilot, he is just not in the plane. Some of the flight is performed automatically (like auto pilot now), but humans do the grunt work.
These guys aren't stupid you know. Every problem you or I can think of has probably already been solved. What they are dealing with now are problems related to top secret crap we have never even heard of, like how many cupholders does an unmanned aircraft need?


RE: What if...
By ksherman on 1/27/2006 5:47:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What they are dealing with now are problems related to top secret crap we have never even heard of, like how many cupholders does an unmanned aircraft need?


two... the answer is two my friend...


RE: What if...
By ZmaxDP on 1/27/2006 6:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
Beat me to it...

I don't know about two though. My guess is that it will have more than my truck (6). The bigger question for me is where they'll put the mini-fridge, and will it use AC or DC power? (The fridge.) After all, if you've got cup holders, you've got to have drinks...


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