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After the Phantom Eye landed, it was slightly damaged when the landing gear hit the lakebed and broke

Boeing sent its Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system (UAS) on its first autonomous flight last week.

Boeing's Phantom Eye is a hydrogen-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is propeller-driven. The aircraft uses two 2.3 liter, four-cylinder engines capable of pushing 300 horsepower total and can loiter above a target for up to 10 days. Its main purpose is to gather information or conduct attack missions.

The Phantom Eye took off at 6:22 a.m. PST for a 28-minute flight. It reached an altitude of 4,080 feet and a speed of 62 knots. The flight took place June 1 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

"This day ushers in a new era of persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) where an unmanned aircraft will remain on station for days at a time providing critical information and services," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works. "This flight puts Boeing on a path to accomplish another aerospace first -- the capability of four days of unrefueled, autonomous flight."

After the Phantom Eye landed, it was slightly damaged when the landing gear hit the lakebed and broke. But overall, the flight was a success.

Previous to the June 1 flight, the Phantom Eye took part in a series of tests throughout April, such as navigation and control, pilot interface, and mission planning.

The Phantom Eye used for demonstration purposes has a 150-foot wingspan and can carry a 450-pound payload. It can fly up to 96 hours without needing to land, but Boeing is looking to make a new model in 2014 that can fly up to 240 hours without landing.

Source: Boeing

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RE: Impressive
By Reclaimer77 on 6/5/2012 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
Is it just me or is this thing WAY too vulnerable for combat theater operations? It's basically a blimp with wings. And at 4,000 feet, pretty much anything can shoot it down.

The technology is impressive, but I see far more benefits for the civilian sector than I do military.

RE: Impressive
By Sazabi19 on 6/5/2012 2:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, but it is a good starting concept as well as a demonstrator. It has been proven, now it can be refined.

RE: Impressive
By WalksTheWalk on 6/5/2012 2:50:37 PM , Rating: 2
It sounds like this is more demo tech than anything, but it is impressive. I'm sure there will be a military contract here somewhere to explore a version that can cruise at much higher altitudes and be combined with stealth attributes.

As you mentioned it has many places in civilian areas too such as mapping, etc.

RE: Impressive
By Jeffk464 on 6/5/2012 3:07:41 PM , Rating: 1
How well can Taliban shoot it down at that altitude with AK47's and rocket propelled grenades?

RE: Impressive
By jRaskell on 6/5/2012 3:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
This was just a test flight. The flight ceiling for this UAV is going to be 65,000 feet. I'm sure there will be a variety of test flights before they attempt any tests at that height.

It's top speed is also 150 knots.

RE: Impressive
By Reclaimer77 on 6/5/2012 6:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
Figures. You know I don't why we bother reading these articles when you have to go to another site or use Google to get the whole story. Nowhere here does it mention being a high-altitude aircraft, and at the end where stats are being listed, flight ceiling is left out.

65,000 feet for a prop driven aircraft is pretty damn impressive. The world record for level flight is currently 46,919 feet.

RE: Impressive
By ZorkZork on 6/5/2012 5:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
It really depends on who the enemy is. Besides according to Boeing it is a HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV thus 4000 feet is definitely not the ceiling.

RE: Impressive
By Shadowmaster625 on 6/6/2012 9:36:01 AM , Rating: 1
And if it gets shot down? The taxpayer will just shell out $200 million more for a new one.

Or whatever the hell this thing costs. I assume $200 million is too high, but I am sure it costs at least 100 times more than the sum of its parts. I mean, really, a hydrogen tank, a $10000 fuselage, and old conservatively designed motors that should cost no more than a couple grand. The BOM for these machines should be about $100k. Multiply by 100 and you get $10 million. Multiply that by a pig factor of 20 and you get $200 million.

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