Collection Item Summary:
First flown in 2002, the X-45A was the first modern UAV designed specifically for combat strike missions. The stealthy, swept-wing jet has fully retractable landing gear and a composite, fiber-reinforced epoxy skin. Its fuselage houses two internal weapons bays. The X-45 project was first managed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, but in 2003 the Air Force and Navy consolidated the X-45 and X-47 programs under the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System Office.
This X-45A, named The Elsie May, accomplished several firsts during testing. Among them: the first autonomous flight of a high-performance, combat-capable UAV; the first weapons release from an autonomous UAV; and, with Air Vehicle #2, the first autonomous multi-vehicle coordinated flight. Only two X-45A scaled-down technology demonstrators were built. Flight tests successfully concluded in 2005.