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X-45A Successfully Releases Inert Weapon

X-45A Successfully Releases Inert Weapon

By 2nd Lt. Brooke Davis, 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs.

Edwards Air Force Base, California -- (AFPN) March 26, 2004 -- The Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System X-45A successfully carried out an inert-weapons release here March 20, marking the first weapons release from the internal bay of the high-speed, stealthy unmanned aircraft.

Edwards AFB, California -- The Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System X-45A successfully completed its first weapons release from the unmanned aircraft's internal bay here March 20. U.S. Air Force photo by Lori Losey.

U.S. Air Force photo by Lori Losey

"All testing leading up to (the) weapon jettison went extremely well," said Maj. Mike Marston, an X-45A test pilot. "The time and preparation put in paid big dividends when the inert weapon successfully cleared the aircraft's internal weapon bay."

Along with successfully releasing an inert, unguided small smart bomb, the testing demonstrated the aircraft's maximum envelope of about 495 mph and 35,000 feet. It also verified proper operation of the weapons bay door and tested its ability to transmit a radar image to the ground operator within time and bandwidth constraints, said 2nd Lt. Devon Christensen, Air Force Flight Test Center X-45A deputy program manager.

Before the flight, the program conducted three successful test flights March 11, 13 and 17, said Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency officials.

March 11 was the first of two regression flights to validate new software changes.

During this flight, the X-45A unexpectedly had to be redirected around the flight pattern when an in-flight emergency was declared by another aircraft. Air traffic controllers redirected the X-45A around the flight pattern to allow the other aircraft to safely land, demonstrating the X-45A's ability to fly with manned aircraft, said Boeing officials.

Software changes were also validated during the second regression flight, Lieutenant Christensen said.

During the March 17 flight, the team successfully completed a captive-carry flight and validated software changes. The X-45A carried, but did not release, a Global Positioning System satellite-guided bomb during this flight, Lieutenant Christensen said. The X-45A used the same mission plan for the captive-carry flight that was used for the inert weapons release to dry-run the release procedures.

"The dry-run was excellent; it helped configure the communications software for (the) flight [March 20], during which the X-45A successfully released an inert weapon while flying the exact same flight configuration practiced March 17," Lieutenant Christensen said.

All of these flights support the release of another bomb at China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center in April, Lieutenant Christensen said.

"Our program is designed to provide the military with a weapon system that can operate without placing men and women in harms way," Major Marston said. "We are developing an aircraft that will be a lethal means of force, protecting warfighters who risk their lives to perform dangerous missions."

The X-45A began flight testing here with its first flight May 22, 2002.

The team is working toward the ultimate goal of developing the next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles to demonstrate the military value of the concept, said research agency officials. (Some information courtesy of Boeing and DARPA)


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).