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Boeing X-45

United States (2002)
Picture of Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype
Picture of Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype Picture of Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype
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The Boeing X-45A made its maiden flight on May 22nd, 2002 though the program ultimately netted just two examples in all.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype.  Entry last updated on 4/25/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Boeing X-45 served as a proof-of-concept technology demonstrator - developed in conjunction with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) - for the storied aviation concern in trying to develop a fully-autonomous Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) solution for possible adoption by the United States Air Force (USAF). The advanced aircraft first took to the air on May 22nd, 2002 and this led to a pair of vehicles being completed and used in active testing. With their test phase completed, the design did not materialized into a formal UCAV contract order by the USAF which then saw Boeing attempting to sell its X-45 to the United States Navy (USN). The USN favored a competing design from Northrop Grumman (to become the "X-47"). As such, the X-45 program was ended and both of the original X-45A aircraft were handed to American museums - the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum of Washington, D.C and the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

The Boeing "Phantom Ray" became an offshoot of the X-45 work, its first flight being in 2011 with only one having been completed to date (2014).

The X-45A took on a most unique design form with its hard, clean lines, well-blended dorsal section, and swept mainplanes. The vehicle lacked any conventional tail unit (including vertical tail fins) and its turbofan engine was buried deep within the upper section of the fuselage - allowing the ventral side to remain flat. The single engine was aspirated at the front of the design by way of an intake and exhausted through a shallow port at the rear - the installation running nearly the full length of the aircraft. The undercarriage was wholly retractable and of a tricycle arrangement. Flight control was autonomous though pilots on the ground could input control if required.


Picture of the Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype
Picture of the Boeing X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype


Boeing engineers, at its famous "Phantom Works" location, completed two flyable X-45As and these were to represent a future, full-sized version still-to-come. General ground running and flight testing then led to ordnance drops which proved the machine sound on the whole. The pair of X-45s were sometimes flown together and showed their prowess in operating - autonomously and in conjunction with one another - when engaging simulated threats. They utilized their software for optimal approaches, interpreting the level of the threats, and resource management successfully. With their flying days over, the pair were then retired having flown dozens of flights.

The X-45 program begat a few notable variants leading with the X-45A which remained proof-of-concept demonstrators. The X-45B was the full-sized version which allowed for improved performance figures and this then led to the finalized form as the X-45C to be powered by an F404 series turbofan. A navalized version of this mark was the offered to the USN as the X-45N though the Northrop Grumman X-47 took its place and has gone on to make tremendous strides for the service in active carrier trials.

Dimensionally, the X-45A held a running length of 26.5 feet, a wingspan of 33.9 feet, and a height of 6.7 feet. Its empty listed weight was 8,000lbs. A pair of long internal weapons bays were seated in the belly allowing for the carrying of JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or similar guided drop bombs. The X-45A was outfitted with a Honeywell F124-GA-100 turbofan engine, giving it a maximum speed of 570 miles per hour (up to Mach 0.75) and a range of 1,500 miles. Its operational service ceiling was 40,000 feet.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (572mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing X-45A's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 2002
Type: Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company / DARPA - USA
Production: 2
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing X-45A model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
0


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
26.57 ft


Meters
8.1 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
33.79 ft


Meters
10.3 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
7.02 ft


Meters
2.14 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
8,003 lb


Kilograms
3,630 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Honeywell F124-GA-100 turbofan engine of unknown thrust output.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
572 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
920 kph


Knots
497 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,491 mi


Kilometers
2,400 km


Nautical Miles
1,296 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
43,307 ft


Meters
13,200 m


Miles
8.20 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

Precision-guided bombs across two internal weapons bays.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• X-45 - Base Series Designation
• X-45A - Original test models; two completed.
• X-45B - Full-sized form of the X-45A
• X-45C - To be fitted with F404 series turbofan engine.
• X-45N - Proposed navalized variant for the USN
• "Phantom Ray" - Private venture based on X-45 data