Boeing awarded $460 million to develop unmanned bomber

The Pentagon has awarded Boeing a defence contract worth $460 million to develop the planned X-45B unmanned bomber for the US Air Force.

The Pentagon has recently awarded Boeing a defence contract worth $460 million to develop the planned X-45B unmanned bomber for the US Air Force.

The contract would lead to the design, development and construction of two X-45B aircraft by 2005, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at the Pentagon said. DARPA is developing the unmanned combat air vehicle along with the Air Force.

The X-45B will be an upgrade version of the X-45A remote-controlled experimental jet, which first flew on May 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The contract also calls for development of an upgraded mission control station for long-range flight of the X-45B aircraft, DARPA said.

In an effort to transform itself to a lighter but more mobile force, the US military is developing a range of high-tech weapons, including unmanned planes, which are extensively used in Afghanistan.

The X-45A is 7.9 metres long and has a wingspan of 10.4 metres. The planned X-45B would expand the length to 11 metres and the wingspan to 14.3 metres. It would also be built with sharp angles using composite materials to avoid radar detection.

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