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Althalus

Unmanned fighter plane performs first flight

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An experimental remote-controlled fighter jet developed by the US military has performed its first test flight.

The flight tested the X-45's flight stability and remote control system. If fully developed, the X-45 would allow fighter pilots to raid enemy targets and engage in airborne combat from the comfort of a base on the ground.

Colonel Michael Leahy, X-45 program manager at the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), says: "Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) will effectively and affordably perform extremely hazardous missions such as the suppression of enemy air defenses while greatly reducing the risk our aircrews have to face."

But unmanned aircraft such as the X-45 would not only make the life of a fighter pilot safer, they would also significantly lower the cost of flying combat missions. On-board pilots require expensive equipment and crewed aircraft spend much of their operational life flying in expensive training exercises.

Cheap shot

An unmanned airplane is cheaper to construct and operators would be largely trained using simulation software. The X-45 is could be stored for decades before being used. It is thought each X-45 would cost $15 million, about half that of a typical manned fighter.

A later version of the airplane, called the X-45B, will be designed to carry simulated weapons. The final machine will weigh 3600 kilograms (8000 pounds) and carry 1400 kg (3000 lb) of weaponry. Further flight tests are planned for throughout 2002, including tests involving other aircraft.

Other unmanned fighter planes are in development and smaller remote-controlled military planes have already been fully developed. Slow-flying Predator spy planes fitted with limited weaponry have been used in Afghanistan recently.

The X-45 is 8.2m (27 feet) long, smaller than a typical manned fighter plane and has no tail fin. Its engine is situated where the pilot would sit. During its maiden flight, the X-45 reached an altitude of 2286 metres (7500 feet) and a maximum air speed of 361 km/h (195 knots). The airplane has been developed by DARPA, Boeing and the US Air Force.

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That's actually pretty darn cool.

I wonder if they're gonna need any video game freaks to help out with the flying  ;)

That would be funny lol

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this reminds me of the film 'terminator'...

The Terminator: The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor: And Skynet fights back.

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