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  • New Robotic plane the X-45

    Robotic plane makes unmanned bombing run
    Monday, April 19, 2004 Posted: 9:47 AM EDT (1347 GMT)



    An unmanned X-45 aircraft built by Boeing releases a guided bomb on April 18 at a California weapons range.



    LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A robotic plane deliberately dropped a bomb near a truck at Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday, marking another step forward for technology the U.S. military hopes will one day replace human pilots on dangerous combat missions.

    Under human supervision but without human piloting, a prototype of the Boeing Co.'s X-45 took off from the desert base, opened its bomb bay doors, dropped a 250-pound Small Smart Bomb and then landed.

    The inert bomb struck within inches of the truck it was supposed to hit, Boeing said, adding that had the bomb contained explosives, the target would have been destroyed.

    "It's absolutely a huge step forward for us. It shows the capability of an unmanned airplane to carry weapons," said Rob Horton, Boeing's chief operator for the mission. "From the video, you see the weapon going down and a huge cloud of dust and the truck shaking around."

    The X-45A was preprogrammed with the target coordinates and used the satellite-based Global Positioning System to adjust its course.

    Horton, who was sitting 80 miles from the target, authorized the drone to drop the bomb, which was released from 35,000 feet as the plane flew at 442 mph.

    The military sees such aircraft taking part in its most dangerous missions, such as bombing enemy radar and surface-to-air missile batteries, in order to clear the path for human pilots.

    The Y-shaped, tailless plane has a 34-foot wingspan and weighs 8,000 pounds empty. It is the first drone designed specifically to carry weapons into combat.

    Other robotic planes, including the Predator spy drone currently being used in Afghanistan, have been modified to carry weapons.

    Boeing hopes to build hundreds of the X-45 planes, which would cost $10 million to $15 million each.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Originally posted by Priest
    Boeing hopes to build hundreds of the X-45 planes, which would cost $10 million to $15 million each.
    Isn't that a bit expensive? Can't you get cheap used single seat fighters for that price?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Martin Schenkel
      Isn't that a bit expensive? Can't you get cheap used single seat fighters for that price?
      $26.9 million for an F-16c/d
      THe F-22 and JSF are going to cost even more, IMHO.
      "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tim McBride
        $26.9 million for an F-16c/d
        THe F-22 and JSF are going to cost even more, IMHO.
        True - but how much for the pilot?
        "Teamwork is essential - it gives the Enemy someone else to shoot at"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Wolf
          True - but how much for the pilot?
          Even more expensive in my mind. I like the remote piloted stuff, cheap on human lives for our troops at times.
          "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

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          • #6
            The problem that I have with this is that it sounds more like a cruise missle than a Preditor. I just don't want to accidentally bomb another Chinese embassy.

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            • #7
              Well, don't know if you really need such a unit I mean it is all preprogrammed and GPS controlled etc.

              As far as I remember this is what the Timahawk is used for nowadays and it is a lot cheaper and also does not incorporates pilots.
              "A platoon of Chinese tanks viciously attacked a Soviet harvester,
              which was peacefully working a field near the Soviet-Chinese border.
              The harvester returned fire and upon destroying the enemy
              returned to its home base."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mr_clark
                Well, don't know if you really need such a unit I mean it is all preprogrammed and GPS controlled etc.

                As far as I remember this is what the Timahawk is used for nowadays and it is a lot cheaper and also does not incorporates pilots.
                No pilots is a problem, remember back in around '98 when the US was getting rid of the chemical factories in the Sudan, someone got some bad intel and sent a cruise missle into the Chinese embassy. We need a human to correct such errors, a Tomahawk or cruise missle won't.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Priest
                  No pilots is a problem, remember back in around '98 when the US was getting rid of the chemical factories in the Sudan, someone got some bad intel and sent a cruise missle into the Chinese embassy. We need a human to correct such errors, a Tomahawk or cruise missle won't.
                  I am completely of this opinion! Personally I don't trust all this "smart" weapons.
                  AFAIK there was a recruitment-poster of the USMC with a camouflaged sniper on it plus the words "smart weapon", hmm, I totally agree on this one...
                  "A platoon of Chinese tanks viciously attacked a Soviet harvester,
                  which was peacefully working a field near the Soviet-Chinese border.
                  The harvester returned fire and upon destroying the enemy
                  returned to its home base."

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                  • #10
                    Hehe, we're advancing straight into the scenario from Terminator (Ahnuld) where some jihadists run around trying to hide from hunter-killer robots.

                    "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
                    --Frederick II, King of Prussia

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Priest
                      No pilots is a problem, remember back in around '98 when the US was getting rid of the chemical factories in the Sudan, someone got some bad intel and sent a cruise missle into the Chinese embassy. We need a human to correct such errors, a Tomahawk or cruise missle won't.

                      You're thinking of the Chinese embassy in Serbia during the NATO air war I think. That was a human error, with the same outcome if it was a JDAM or a cruise missile. In one case the pilot would have put his cross hairs on the building he was told to bomb, and in the other the computer does the job as programmed. Pilotless or not the outcome would be the same. Of course if you sacked the CIA's targetting section and replaced them with somebody who knew what they were doing then the correct target would have been destroyed.

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