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Boeing Phantom Ray  (Source: Boeing)

  (Source: Boeing)
Additional test flights to take place of the next few weeks

Boeing first unveiled a near-complete version of its Phantom Ray unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) nearly a year ago. This week, the company announced that its Phantom Ray has completed its first flight.  

The first flight lasted for 17 minutes during which the Phantom Ray reached a maximum altitude of 7,500 feet and a top speed of 178 knots. 

The program is being completely funded by Boeing, and the first test flight's primary goals were to test fight characteristics of the aircraft. The company also notes that future mission parameters for the aircraft could include strike operations and autonomous in-air refueling. 

The Boeing Phantom Ray is 36 feet long and has a wingspan of 50 feet. The maximum takeoff weight for the aircraft is 36,500 pounds and is powered by a single GE F404-GE-102D engine.

"Autonomous, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft are real," said Phantom Ray program manager Craig Brown. "The UAS bar has been raised. Now I’m eager to see how high that bar will go."

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RE: Stealth?
By aliasfox on 5/5/2011 11:15:57 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I guess my point was to ask about what kind of procedures would be in place if a stealth UAV were to be shot down - emphasis on the stealth. Wasn't that new Chinese fighter bomber built using data from recovered F117 material (Bosnia)? There would still have to be manned fighters standing by ready to take to the air and blow one of these to tiny little pieces - would that be a dramatic departure from current SOP?

When I referred to 'low and slow' I was assuming that these things were flying ~10k ft above the ground, no faster than 3-400 mph. If (as some posters are suggesting) these are flying at higher-than-airliner altitudes at 600 mph, then stealth becomes much more useful - those are similar conditions that the B-2 flies under, as well (high enough and fast enough that even if it is spotted, there's not much ground forces can do about it).

RE: Stealth?
By nafhan on 5/5/2011 2:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
If one of these went down, I would think it would be easier to dispose of than say an F-22 or F-35 since they wouldn't having to worry about recovering/harming a pilot. Otherwise, I don't see why it would be any different than other high tech military vehicles.

I think this is going to have more in common with current manned aircraft than older stuff like the Predator. So, flight profiles, etc. will probably be similar to stuff like the B-2 or current fighter bombers. By the way, stealth and infrared masking technologies still have an undeniable benefit at low altitudes.

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