The Boeing Phantom Ray is an American demonstration stealth UCAV being developed by Boeing using company funds. The autonomous Phantom Ray is a flying wing around the size of a conventional fighter jet, and first flew in April 2011. It will conduct a program of test flights involving surveillance, ground attack and autonomous aerial refueling missions.
Design and Development
The Phantom Ray project, called “Project Reblue” internally at Boeing, was first conceived in mid-2007, and started in earnest in June 2008. The project was secret within the company, except for a small number of executives and engineers, until May 2009.
Developed by the Boeing Phantom Works, the Phantom Ray is based on the X-45C prototype aircraft, which Boeing originally developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program in 2002. The Phantom Ray was not aimed at any particular military program or competition, although Boeing may use the design as an entry for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program.
The Phantom Ray was unveiled on May 10, 2010, in St. Louis, Missouri. In late November 2010, low-speed taxi tests were carried out in St. Louis. The demonstrator aircraft is to perform ten test flights over six months, supporting missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; hunter/killer; and autonomous aerial refueling. Boeing anticipates that the Phantom Ray will be the first of a series of new prototype aircraft.
The Phantom Ray was scheduled to make its maiden flight in December 2010 from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, but this was later rescheduled, and the aircraft first flew on April 27, 2011, from Edwards AFB, having been carried there by the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-102D
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