Boeing Phantom Works Unveil the Phantom Ray

May 12, 2010

By AvalonRoundTable © 2010

On May 10, 2010 in Saint Louis, MO, The Boeing Company unveiled the Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system (UAS). After two years of development, the internally funded program, called Phantom Ray, will use the prototype vehicle that Boeing originally developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program.

The Phantom Ray, a sleek, fighter-sized UAS combines survivability with a powerful arsenal of new capabilities, and is scheduled to make its first flight in December 2010. Ten flights over a period of approximately six months will be conducted, supporting missions that may include; autonomous aerial refueling, suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; hunter/killer; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission capabilities.

According to Boeing, The Boeing Phantom Works organization is employing rapid-prototyping techniques that facilitate the speed and agility needed to meet the 2010 flight schedule. The Phantom Ray specifications include, a 50-foot wingspan and length measuring 36 feet long and has a gross weight of 36,500lbs. It operates at an altitude of 40,000ft, which is 10,000ft higher than the average long-haul commercial airliner. It will cruise comfortably at a speed of 614mph, or 0.8mach, just shy of the speed of sound.

“Boeing’s goals for the Phantom Ray program clearly demonstrate our commitment to rapid prototyping and are an important part of the company’s efforts to be a leader in the unmanned aircraft business,” said Phantom Works President Darryl Davis. “We have mobilized our assets to continue the tremendous potential we developed under J-UCAS, and now will fully demonstrate that capability.”

Additional facts from Boeing state that, “Phantom Ray will pick up where the UCAS program left off in 2006 by further demonstrating Boeing’s unmanned systems development capabilities in a fighter-sized, state-of-the-art aerospace system. The Boeing UCAS program began with the X-45A, which successfully flew 64 times from 2002 to 2005. Those flights included a demonstration exercise with two X-45A aircraft that marked the first unmanned, autonomous multivehicle flight under the control of a single pilot. Boeing also designed a larger UCAS aircraft, the X-45C, which will serve as the basis for the Phantom Ray demonstrator.”

“What is particularly exciting about Phantom Ray is that we will incorporate the latest technologies into the superb X-45C airframe design,” said Dave Koopersmith, vice president of Boeing Advanced Military Aircraft, a division of Phantom Works. “As we gradually expand the vehicle’s flight envelope, potential users will have access to a full range of unique capabilities that only this type of autonomous platform can provide.”

“Phantom Ray represents a series of significant changes we’re making within Boeing Defense, Space & Security,” said Darryl Davis, president of Phantom Works. “For the first time in a long time, we are spending our own money on designing, building and flying near-operational prototypes. We’re spending that money to leverage the decades of experience we have in unmanned systems that span the gamut from sea to space.”

“We’re really excited about this because Phantom Works is back as a rapid prototyping house, operation and organization,” said Craig Brown, Boeing Phantom Ray program manager. “This is the first of what I expect to be many exciting prototypes, and they’re all with exciting technology.”

References:

http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2009/q2/090508b_nr.html

http://www.boeing.com/Features/2010/05/bds_feat_phantomRay_05_10_10.html

http://www.boeing.com/bds/

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