The Boeing Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system (UAS) recently completed its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base – achieving an altitude of 7,500 feet and reaching a speed of 178 knots.
The 17-minute flight was conducted following a series of high-speed taxi tests in March that validated operational procedures, ground guidance, navigation and control.
According to Boeing rep Craig Brown, the maiden flight demonstrated Phantom Ray’s basic airworthiness, which “sets the stage” for additional flights over the next few weeks.
“These flights will prepare Phantom Ray to support potential missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, suppression of enemy air defenses, electronic attack, strike, and autonomous air refueling,” said Brown.
“[All clearly] moves us farther into the next phase of unmanned aircraft. [Yes], autonomous, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft are real, and the UAS bar has been raised. Now I’m eager to see how high that bar [can] go.”
Phantom Ray, which evolved from the X-45C program, is one of several programs in the Phantom Works division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. Phantom Works uses rapid prototyping initiatives to design, develop, build and test advanced aircraft.
Additional Boeing UAS platforms include the A160T Hummingbird, Integrator, ScanEagle and SolarEagle.