Phantom Flight - Boeing UAS Makes First Flight at Dryden
The successful first flight of The Boeing Co.’s Phantom Ray, a jet-powered, fighter-size unmanned aircraft system, was completed April 27 at Dryden.
The center is hosting Phantom Ray flight test operations and providing hangar facilities, engineering and ground test support. Flight test range support for the project is also being provided under a Boeing-funded commercial Space Act agreement with NASA.
The 17-minute flight followed a series of high-speed taxi tests in March that validated ground guidance and navigation and control systems and verified mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures. The craft flew to 7,500 feet and reached a speed of 178 knots.
The flight demonstrated the Phantom Ray’s basic airworthiness, setting the stage for additional flights in the next few weeks. The upcoming Boeing-funded flights will prepare the aircraft to support potential missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; strike; and autonomous air refueling.
“The first flight moves us farther into the next phase of unmanned aircraft,” said Craig Brown, Boeing’s Phantom Ray program manager. “Autonomous, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft are real, and the UAS bar has been raised. Now, I’m eager to see how high that bar will go.”
The Phantom Ray program is one of several in Boeing’s Phantom Works – including the Phantom Eye – and is part of a rapid prototyping initiative to design, develop and build advanced aircraft and demonstrate their capabilities. Dryden also is hosting the Phantom Eye developmental test flights.