Warplanes: December 3, 2002


The second X-45A combat UAV made it's successful first flight on November 21st. Fully loaded, the X-45 weighs about six tons, and carries 1500 pounds of bombs. The new 250 and 500 pound JDAM smart bombs are being built with the X-45 in mind. Aside from being cheaper to build because it doesnt have to carry a pilot, the X-45 will be much cheaper to operate. Manned aircraft spend, on average, 80 percent of their air time just for pilot training. With a UAV, a lot more of this can be done with simulators. Most X-45s would be stored, and are designed to remain ready for action after up to ten years in their storage containers. When needed, the X-45s can be assembled and ready for action in 90 minutes. The X-45 is being designed to stay in the air up to three hours per sortie and have a range of 1100 kilometers. Speed will be subsonic (max out at about 800 kilometers per hour.) Max altitude will be 35,000 feet. Sensors, computers and software onboard will allow some, or all, of a mission to be flown robotically (without outside control.)


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