Aircraft

Unmanned Air Combat X-45C to get Autonomous Aerial Refueling capabilities

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A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon
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A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon
The X-45C is expected to become one of an array of global strike solutions, including the F/A-18F Super Hornet, and F-15E Strike Eagle.
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The X-45C is expected to become one of an array of global strike solutions, including the F/A-18F Super Hornet, and F-15E Strike Eagle.
an artists rendition of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) X-45C releasing two JDAMs
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an artists rendition of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) X-45C releasing two JDAMs
An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force, is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force, is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing refuels a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing. The 22nd ARW's primary mission is to provide Global Reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed.
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A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing refuels a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing. The 22nd ARW's primary mission is to provide Global Reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed.
A modified KC-135 Stratotanker sprays water on an F/A-22 during an airborne ice test here. The Raptor was the first aircraft to use the 'rain and ice tanker' for testing.
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A modified KC-135 Stratotanker sprays water on an F/A-22 during an airborne ice test here. The Raptor was the first aircraft to use the 'rain and ice tanker' for testing.
A B-1 Lancer negotiates its way to an aerial refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker
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A B-1 Lancer negotiates its way to an aerial refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker

July 12, 2005 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Boeing an additional US$175 million to continue the X-45C portion of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) Capability Demonstration Program, adding a full demonstration of a new Autonomous Aerial Refueling technology and culminating in an in-flight X-45C refueling by a KC-135 tanker in 2010. By adding autonomous refuelling to the X-45’s already scary capabilities , the United States will be able to provide “an even longer sustained, lethal presence in hostile airspace holding enemy forces open to immediate surveillance or destruction."

"With autonomous refueling, the X-45C provides an even longer sustained, lethal presence in hostile airspace holding enemy forces open to immediate surveillance or destruction," said David Koopersmith, Boeing J-UCAS X-45 vice president and program manager. "The Boeing X-45C will effectively and affordably fill critical gaps in key Air Force and Navy mission areas."

Boeing previously received $767 million from DARPA in October 2004 to build and flight test three X-45C air vehicles, two mission control elements, and integrate the J-UCAS Common Operating System. The first X-45C will be completed in 2006, with flight-testing scheduled to begin in 2007. Since Boeing began the J-UCAS Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, two X-45A's have flown 55 test missions at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Winner of a 2005 Flight International Aerospace Industry Award, the J-UCAS X-45 program is a DARPA/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 the Navy and Air Force. Operational missions for the services may include persistent strike; penetrating electronic attack; suppression of enemy air defenses; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

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