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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 ekv on 5/5/2011 2:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
before their airframes wore out or they were shot down.
Keep in mind the B-52 is still flying. [Introduced Feb. 1955, older than me, almost as old as you].
The B-2 will never have a successor that's comparable in size and stealth.
Which is why you have a B-2. It's the mission it fulfills. Whatever happens, communications breakdown, etc., you've got a guy in the cockpit ready, willing and able to make the decision. Expensive? yep.

A curious note, you've seen f-22 knock-offs from the Chinese and Russians. Have you seen any B-2 knock-offs?

Lastly, I would also argue that UCAV's (like the Phantom Ray) have a greater variety of missions they can fulfill than, say, a B-2. But does that mean they are always the right tool for the job?

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