A glimpse into the future was unveiled today when the Boeing [NYSE: BA] Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) X-45C full-scale model made its debut at the Farnborough International Air Show.
The model represents what the X-45C will look like when completed at the company's St. Louis manufacturing facility in 2006. Assembly of this revolutionary aircraft began in June and it is scheduled to make its first flight in 2007. Boeing previously built two X-45A vehicles, now being flight-tested at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The X-45C is 39 feet long with a 49-foot wingspan and cruises at 0.80 Mach. It will carry eight Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), Boeing's newest near-precision, 250-pound weapon, or the full range of Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munitions(JDAMs).
The J-UCAS X-45 program is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy/Boeing effort to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value of an unmanned air combat system for both the Air Force and the Navy. Operational missions for the services may include suppression of enemy air defenses; strike; electronic attack; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.