New Boeing drone takes flight

May 3, 2011 at 1:16 PM
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ST. LOUIS, May 3 (UPI) -- Boeing's new Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system flew to 7,500 feet and reached a speed of 178 knots in its first flight test in California.

The 17-minute flight took place following a series of high-speed taxi tests in March that validated ground guidance, navigation and control and verified mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.

"This day has been 2 1/2 years in the making," said Boeing Phantom Works President Darryl Davis. "It's the beginning of providing our customers with a test bed to develop future unmanned systems technology and a testament to the capabilities resident within Boeing. Just as follow-on tests will expand Phantom Ray's flight envelope, they also will help Boeing expand its presence in the unmanned systems market."

Boeing said the flight demonstrated Phantom Ray's basic airworthiness, setting the stage for additional flights in the next few weeks. The company-funded 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.

Phantom Ray is one of several programs in Phantom Works, which includes Phantom Eye -- part of a rapid prototyping initiative to design, develop and build advanced aircraft and then demonstrate their capabilities.

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