X-45C

X-45C

The resultant X-45C is a flying-wing design that furthers the UCAV flight radius to 1,100-1,300 nautical miles with a 4,500-pounds payload of bombs or reconnaissance sensors. The planform of the X-45C is very similar to the details that Boeing released on the Boeing X-46 UCAV-N. While only slightly larger, the X-45C has a very similar overall planform layout when compared to the X-46.

The X-45C design has a wingspan of 49 feet and a length of 39 feet. The gross weight of the UCAV is expected to be around 36,500 lbs., the empty weight is approximately 18,000 lbs. The new aircraft is being designed with an operational ceiling of approximately 40,000 feet, the same as the X-45B. Boeing is planning on using a General Electric (GE) F404-GE-102D engine to power the aircraft to speeds of Mach 0.85.

According to the DARPA X-45 project office, the objectives of the X-45C are to implement lessons learned from the beginning. The main lesson is that robust air vehicles will minimize Spiral 2 non-recurring engineering development costs. Spiral 2 capabilities will be inserted in areas where they are prudent such as design life, structure, engine, vectoring nozzle, electro-mechanical actuators, power distribution units, generators, landing gear, etc. Finally, provisions need to be made for capabilities that are not needed in the current X-45A demonstration program such as aerial refueling, MILSTAR, ESM, SAR, etc. by finding an aviation titanium supplier.

The Navy version also is expected to carry a relative navigation capability that allows it to keep track of the moving ship it operates from. A single Boeing team is developing both the USAF and USN designs concurrently. For the purpose of the demonstration, each service will have access to two of the three aircraft to satisfy its demonstration needs.

Both services are expected to benefit from the reconfigured program, Davis said. The Air Force will get an aircraft with more endurance and range, while the Navy will get one with costs reduced by the funding already provided by the Air Force, Boeing and DARPA.

The first demonstrator aircraft will be ready by mid-2006. DARPA has requested that Boeing will build three demonstration aircraft, possibly two Navy and one Air Force, since a Navy variant with its beefed-up internal structure will be able to fulfill the Air Force’s testing requirements. The Navy UCAV will have a stronger structure to endure catapult


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