The Boeing X-45 "robotic combat plane", the first UAV designed from the start to carry weapons, made its maiden flight recently (via Wiley Wiggins). From Aerotech News and Review:
During a "typical" mission, multiple UCAVs would be with preprogrammed with mission objectives and preliminary targeting information from the ground-based mission planners. Operations would then be carried out autonomously, but could also be managed interactively or revised en route by the UCAV controllers should new objectives or targeting information develop.
The x-45 is designed to fit into storage containers that can be flown to remote bases, and that have data interfaces on the outside so that the plane can be monitored and have its software updated while still in storage. It can then be removed and assembled in an hour.
That little detail seems so cyberpunk to me.
Dassault is the only other company to have flown a UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle), but it seems that everyone is working on them. This Jane's report has a pretty good overview of UCAV development, capabilities and proposed missions.Posted by jjwiseman at May 27, 2002 08:55 PM