The Boeing Phantom Eye  (Source: Boeing)
Boeing's new UAV technology is a green aircraft able to offer several key improvements than today's generation of aircraft

Boeing's newest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has several significant advantages over unmanned aircraft currently in use today.

Research is led by the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base -- and ground tests are expected to begin this September.  Boeing hopes to have early test flights starting immediately in 2011.  

The Boeing Phantom Eye hydrogen-powered UAV is a propeller-driven aircraft able to fly for up to 10 days while conducting intelligence gathering or attack missions.  The aircraft uses two 2.3 liter, four-cylinder engines capable of pushing 300 horsepower total.

The company hopes Phantom Eye can conduct "persistent intelligence and surveillance."  

"The really nice thing about that vehicle is that you can pretty much run operations within the continental U.S.,” said Drew Mallow, Boeing official responsible for monitoring aircraft development.  "You wouldn’t need many bases for this vehicle and have global reach so you could do [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and other operations from a single base.”

The Phantom Eye holds a smaller payload and is slower than the RQ-4 Global Hawk used by the US Air Force, but the new UAV can also conduct surveillance missions up to 65,000 feet above the target.  More importantly, the Boeing Phantom Eye can stay up to 10 times longer near a target than the RQ-4 and other UAVs.

The model currently in development can fly up to 96 hours before needing to land, and has a 150-foot wingspan and 450-pound payload.  Boeing hopes to release a new model in 2014 that can fly up to 240 hours without landing.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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