The cancellation of the US Air Force / Navy Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) programme prevented Boeing from rolling out the X-45C demonstrator last week.

The company’s contract to build three X-45Cs has been cancelled and work on the aircraft has stopped pending a competition for the US Navy’s carrier-based unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstration.

The US Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defence Review decided to restructure the joint-service J-UCAS into a navy-only UCAV carrier suitability demonstration, and funding for the joint programme was removed from the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2007 budget request. In its place $239 million is requested to begin a US Navy carrier-based long-endurance UCAV demonstration programme.

Roll-out of the first X-45C on 2 March was called off after the J-UCAS contract was cancelled. The General Electric F404-powered X-45C is a larger development of Boeing’s X-45A, which last year completed a UCAV technology demonstration led by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In August the two.X-45As demonstrated autonomous reactive suppression of enemy air defences, including dropping a bomb.

Boeing X-45 unmanned bomber 445x297

The X-45C is now expected to compete against the rival Northrop Grumman X-47B for the navy programme to demonstrate the carrier suitability of an unmanned long-endurance aircraft. “The technology Boeing demonstrated in the X-45 programme and the advances we have made in unmanned systems have given us a competitive advantage that can be applied to a carrier-based unmanned aircraft designed to meet the navy’s future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements,” the company

Source: Flight International