Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Phantom Ray UAV first flight video


By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
May 4, 2011
A sleek, delta-winged robotic jet took to the skies for the first time above the Mojave Desert at Edwards Air Force Base.

Boeing Co.'s experimental drone, dubbed Phantom Ray, flew to 7,500 feet and reached speeds of 205 mph in its first flight. The 17-minute flight took place April 27, but Boeing officials did not confirm details until Tuesday.

The Phantom Ray, which resembles a giant boomerang, is being developed by the Chicago company for a variety of missions. Its stealthy design could enable it to slip behind enemy lines to knock out radar installations, clearing the way for fighters and bombers.

Unlike existing combat drones that are controlled remotely by a human pilot, the Phantom Ray could carry out a mission controlled almost entirely by a computer. A human pilot sitting miles away designs a flight path and sends it on its way, and a computer program guides it to the target and back.

"The first flight moves us farther into the next phase of unmanned aircraft," Craig Brown, Boeing's Phantom Ray program manager, said in a statement. "Autonomous, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft are real, and the … bar has been raised."


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