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Phantom Ray UAV completes low-speed taxi tests

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November 23, 2010

Boeing recently achieved an important milestone in the development of its Phantom Ray unma...

Boeing recently achieved an important milestone in the development of its Phantom Ray unmanned aerial vehicle, when it successfully completed low-speed taxi tests

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Boeing achieved an important milestone in the development of its Phantom Ray unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on November 18, when it successfully completed low-speed taxi tests on a runway at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri.

According to Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing, Phantom Ray "communicated with the ground control station, received its orders and made its way down the runway multiple times, allowing us to assess its performance and monitor the advanced systems on board.”

Phantom Ray is built upon knowledge gained in the shelved X-45 project, in which the X-45A UAV completed 64 flights between 2002 and 2005. That plane achieved the first precision weapons demonstration by an unmanned combat system, and the first autonomous multivehicle flight under the control of a single pilot. Phantom Ray is based on the larger, fighter-sized X-45C, which made it no farther than the mock-up stage.

Phantom Ray atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

The new UAV will now travel to Edwards Air Force Base in California, riding atop one of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Once at Edwards, it will undergo high-speed taxi tests, before finally taking its first flight. Its flight test period is expected to last six months.

Phantom Ray is designed for missions that could include intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance, suppression of enemy air defenses, electronic attack, strike, and autonomous aerial refueling. The St. Louis taxi tests were the first to be conducted on the UAV, since its rollout ceremony in May.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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8 Comments

These need to be sized to nest inside an aircraft or ship conveyance. Air-deployable, nesting, inflatable UAV's anyone? Anyone? You can't just carry one into battle.

In a fight, we'll need to build armed UAV's in factories and load them to deploy from factory docks continuously via ferry aircraft in very large numbers. It is the entire system that needs development, not just the UAV. Get serious

TogetherinParis
23rd November, 2010 @ 05:30 pm PST

I'm sorry but have I missed the point here TogetherinParis? Wouldn't they be launched from aircraft carriers and air force bases like traditional aircraft?

Adam Nightingale
23rd November, 2010 @ 08:07 pm PST

Paris, this is a prototype, the article clearly states it's just gone through taxi tests - point is, they're not flying it yet. The ferry flight is a one-off just to get the prototype to the base where they'll test it.

Ultimately these will self-deploy to the battlefield under their own power using their own fuel, and where UAVs are concerned, loiter time is more important than high speed in current theatres of conflict.

I must admit though, that picture does conjure up ideas of parasite UAV fighters, sorta like the WW1 airships used to have.

http://www.oldbeacon.com/beacon/airships/parasite.htm

PeetEngineer
24th November, 2010 @ 08:28 am PST

I'm all for new technology, but it's a real shame that all the cool aircraft designs are military in purpose. It just goes to show how misused government funds are. If we funded civilian R&D to even half the extent of the military, think where we'd be.

And that argument that 'military funded new technology eventually makes its way to civilian use' is only true for a small fraction of technology: the small fraction that's non-lethal!! Because, let's face it, do we REALLY need more ways to kill each other?

I think we have plenty already.

Jeremy Nasmith
25th November, 2010 @ 08:40 am PST

what crap this is just another boondoggle from the govt

in 1962 the sr-71 was built and flies 3 times the speed of sound, actual top speed is still classified, was basically stealthy and still holds all the supersonic speed records it initially set, basically stealthy and they would have us believe that we have not advanced anything or made anything better or faster since 1962

lilbear68
25th November, 2010 @ 03:34 pm PST

"Its flight test period is expected to last six months"

Damn that's got some pretty good endurance! :)

Neon
26th November, 2010 @ 02:15 pm PST

There were a lot of technically amazing creations done in the 40-60's that have yet to be repeated. Problem is each year safety gets more of a concern and so less money is available for getting the job done. Eventually by 2050 concerns will be so great nothing except computer models will ever be done.

mg
27th November, 2010 @ 11:04 pm PST

PeetEngineer: For a look at cool commercial aviation options: www.terrafugia.com/aircraft.html

IareAnEngineer
1st December, 2010 @ 07:16 am PST
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