Dec 14, 2010

Unmanned Boeing UAV in First Flight

Boeing Phantom Ray image courtesy of Boeing
A hi-tech unmanned surveillance craft for military research has taken to the air for the first time, but not under its own power.

On 13 December, 2010, the Boeing Phantom Ray UAV was transported on the back of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and this in itself was historic, since no other aircraft apart from the Space Shuttle had previously been carried in this way. Beyond this, though, the flight paved the way for the Phantom Ray’s own flight, set to take place in coming weeks.
UAV designs in present-day US military service include the MQ-9 Reaper, produced by General Dynamics. Boeing’s own UAV portfolio features six designs, from the comparatively low-cost ScanEagle (approximately $100,000 apiece), up to the A160T Hummingbird, which costs upwards of $10m.

Boeing UAV First Flight

The new Boeing UAV’s first flight will occur at Edwards Air Force Base in California – the home of USAF aircraft experimental technology research programmes – and it will follow extensive taxi trials.
“This is exciting not just because it's the first time that an aircraft other than the space shuttle has flown on the SCA, but also because it puts Phantom Ray that much closer to making its first flight”, Boeing’s Phantom Ray program manager, Craig Brown, stated in a company press release issued online.

Phantom Ray UAV

The Phantom Ray UAV was unveiled by Boeing in May 2010. A highly-developed design, work on it has been taking place for two years. According to Boeing, the Phantom Ray will carry out traditional UAV work – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – but it will also be used in combat, and could even gain an air-to-air-refueling capability, too.
The Phantom Ray won’t itself enter US military service, but will be used to take UAV technologies to a new level of advancement. It spans 50 feet across and is set to reach speeds of just below Mach 1, and altitudes of 40,000 feet.
The Boeing 747 SCA has been in use for over three decades. Compared to the standard 747 commercial airliner, the SCA has a reinforced fuselage, stabilizers added to the tail area for improved flight control and a stripped-out cabin.

Related Posts with Thumbnails