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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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Pilotless Drones??
By sorry dog on 5/5/2011 12:37:08 PM , Rating: 2
This won't really replace human pilots. First of all it still needs a pilot, as it will be quite a while before the aircraft AI will be good enough to solo a mission. The Air Force recently stated that we are years away from a computer being capable of completing a mission without human what happens if communications are denied to the aircraft? I doubt it will be allowed to drop weapons without a person pressing the button. So this will only be effective against enemies that don't possess jamming equipment or areas we have air dominance.
I wouldn't expect this to have the same effectiveness compared to traditional aircraft against a hardened enemy such as N Korea or Iran.

RE: Pilotless Drones??
By Azethoth on 5/5/2011 4:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, the US does not have any capable enemies in the entire world. Outspending the next 50 countries buys a lot of superiority. China, if its economy surpasses ours one day, if it decides to waste its money on a massive military complex, if we decide to fight them, may some day in the far future present a problem.

People can go on about how awesome and frightening and hardened N Korea or Iran or whatever is, but the bottom line is the missiles go in on night one, the stealth bombers from night 2 onwards, everyone and their dog from then on till the ground forces decide the pickings are getting too slim and they need to hurry in to still shoot at something while it moves.

The idea that anything on this planet poses a military challenge to the US right now is just laughable.

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