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.
Collection Item Long Description:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Transferred from the U.S. Air Force
Aluminum, carbon fiber, steel, copper, plastic, glass, paint, rubber
- Span: 10.31m (33 ft 8 in)
- Length: 8.03m (26 ft 5 in)
- Height: 1.13 m (3 ft 7 in)
- Weight (empty): 3,629 kg (8,000 lb)
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National Air and Space Museum Collection
Country of Origin
United States of America
Jet-powered, "stealthy" Combat Aerial Vehicle. Designed specifically for offensive combat operations above the battlefield. One of two technology demonstration aircraft for the Joint Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (later Air System) program.