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Phantom Eye Demonstrator   (Source: Boeing)
Phantom Eye is powered by Hydrogen

Boeing has unveiled the Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system. The Phantom Eye is a “green” aircraft that is powered by hydrogen and produces water as its only byproduct. The hydrogen power plant is said to be the key element of the design.

Phantom Eye, which appears to be the production version of HALE, will be able to cruise at up to 65,000 feet for up to four days at a speed of as high as 150 knots. The payload capacity of the aircraft is 450 pounds. The engines used in the aircraft are a pair of four-cylinder power plants with 150 horsepower each. The engines are provided by Ford.

"Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications," Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said today at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis. "It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye's design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers."

Boeing states that Phantom Eye will be shipped to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base later this summer for a series of ground and taxi tests. The maiden voyage of the Phantom Eye aircraft is set for early 2011. Phantom Eye has a 150-foot wingspan.

Boeing has been in the news recently for its new tanker designed to compete in the multi-billion dollar tanker bid program for the Air Force. The company announced this week that it had submitted its 8,000-page bid proposal to the Air Force for consideration for the contract, which is one of the largest ever offered for aircraft. 

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Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/13/2010 1:31:30 PM , Rating: 3
So I'm guessing that the fuel cell is not really to make it a 'green' vehicle, but rather is used to enable high-altitude flying where there's not enough oxygen for a traditional engine.

Just a guess, but I'm quite sure that eco-friendly is not a design hallmark that Boeing cares about other than how (in this case) it adds capability to the aircraft.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By Klober on 7/13/2010 2:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
The problem here is that it is not powered by a fuel cell but rather a hydrogen engine - which still needs oxygen to burn.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/13/2010 3:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
True. I am thinking that it needs less oxygen than a traditional combustion jet engine, but that could be totally off base. It's almost twice as high as a traditional airliner, so it's got to be accounted for in some manner.

At 65,000ft there is only 6% O2 compared to sea level; 35,000 has 26% so it's quite a difference.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By knutjb on 7/13/2010 8:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
Look how high the U2 flies. It has a conventional jet engine.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/14/2010 12:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
Operational ceiling of a U2 is 70K and used a TurboJet engine. So yeah, it's possible. Probably not efficient at that altitude, but doable. *shrug*

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By knutjb on 7/14/2010 3:53:55 PM , Rating: 2
So yeah, it's possible. Probably not efficient at that altitude, but doable.
Uh... they've been doing it since the 50s. The airframe is very efficient and it uses around 3000 gallons for 12+ hrs. So its neither possible, probable, or doable, those words are speculative and the plane works and that is not speculative.

By Divide Overflow on 7/13/2010 11:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
And what, exactly, is the problem with that?

By Ristogod on 7/13/2010 12:01:47 PM , Rating: 1
Doesn't a payload of 450lbs seem a little underwhelming for a craft sporting a 150ft wing span?

RE: Payload
By Bruneauinfo on 7/13/2010 12:19:15 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Payload
By Smilin on 7/13/2010 1:06:22 PM , Rating: 4
Not when it can fly for four days straight.

RE: Payload
By Jeffk464 on 7/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: Payload
By NARC4457 on 7/13/2010 1:32:52 PM , Rating: 5
You don't need to guess, the article says 65,000 feet cruise altitude.

Holy Miyazaki Batman!
By cserwin on 7/13/2010 10:34:39 AM , Rating: 2
So, Boeing's going all Howell's Moving Castle on us? Cool. While they seem to be promoting this thing for civilian uses... the use of 'Phantom' in the name seems a bit ominous.

Naussica and the Camera of Doom, coming to a Theater of War near you.

RE: Holy Miyazaki Batman!
By Hyperion1400 on 7/13/2010 10:40:31 AM , Rating: 3
So, Boeing's going all Howell's Moving Castle on us?

I would have preferred the went Venture Brothers on us and invented a walking eye.

Oh, hey terrorists! Don't mind me; I'll just be over here washing my Walking Eye...

RE: Holy Miyazaki Batman!
By FormulaRedline on 7/13/2010 4:14:30 PM , Rating: 3
the use of 'Phantom' in the name seems a bit ominous

"Phantom" is because it comes from Phantom Works, a division of Boeing Defense, Space, and Security.

This is all public knowledge:

As the article mentions, the Phantom Eye is the production version of the HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) persistent ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance). So for those worried about a 450 lb payload, consider that it was not designed for weapons delivery. Cameras and sensors are considerably lighter than bombs and guidance systems.

News here US only?
By tronied on 7/13/2010 12:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yesterday a UCAV called Taranis was announced which can be a fully autonomous fighter / bomber. Surely that is more news worthy as an technological achievement than this flying elephant. Is it that its not made by an American company, because I thought this was a site that covered everything?

RE: News here US only?
By ralniv on 7/13/2010 1:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
There is a big difference between an announcement and an unveiling. One is just ideas and words. The other is designed, fabricated and partially integrated.

RE: News here US only?
By soloman02 on 7/13/2010 4:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Taranis was UNVEILED yesterday.

BAE has a prototype and expects flight trials to begin in 2011.

RE: News here US only?
By mellomonk on 7/14/2010 3:22:11 AM , Rating: 1
Taranis isn't much of a news item here, for both Boeing and Northrup-Grumman have had similar UCAV, unmanned combat air vehicles, demonstrators flying for years. Actually Taranis is the third from BAE systems by my count.

The Boeing X-45 family has been flying since 2002, dropping munitions since 2004, and making some autonomous decisions since 2005.

Northrup-Grumman's X-47 family has lead to the B variant which in the next three years demonstrate the ability to operate from carrier at sea.

UCAVs tend to make the uninitiated nervous, and the opinionated pilot community somewhat dismissive. But they will be used in high risk capacities soon, and will effect the design and missions of future manned combat aircraft.

So what role does it fill?
By inperfectdarkness on 7/13/2010 11:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
Is this the intended successor to BACN, or do they have something else in mind?

RE: So what role does it fill?
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 7/13/2010 11:57:09 AM , Rating: 1
Did someone say BACON?

RE: So what role does it fill?
By troysavary on 7/14/2010 8:15:30 AM , Rating: 2
The successor to bacon is usually eggs and toast, and the only thing I expect it to fill is my stomach.

By inperfectdarkness on 7/14/2010 9:27:07 AM , Rating: 1
ignore the retards who replied. apparently very few outside of the military are acually up on the niche weapons systems that we employ.

How goes it "go"?
By chromal on 7/14/2010 1:15:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see any means of propulsion in the photo. How does it "go" ?

Looks like
By Danish1 on 7/13/2010 10:38:26 AM , Rating: 1
it will take it just about 4 days to climb to 65,000 feet.

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