Boeing’s Phantom Eye remotely piloted aircraft completed a new round of taxi testing as the company prepares it for its second flight, announced company officials. During the Feb. 6 taxi test at Edwards AFB, Calif., the Phantom Eye demonstrator successfully reached speeds of about 46 miles per hour as it sat perched atop its launch cart, states Boeing’s Feb. 7 release. For its upcoming flight, company officials said they’ve completed hardware and software upgrades and improved the airplane’s landing system. It was during the Phantom Eye’s initial flight last June at Edwards that the landing gear “dug into” a lakebed and broke, states the release. “We’ve drawn on Boeing’s experience to come up with a solution, using our tactical fighter aircraft landing systems as an example,” said Brad Shaw, Phantom Eye chief engineer. The liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye is designed to stay on station for up to four days at an altitude up to 65,000 feet in order to monitor large areas of the Earth’s surface. The demonstrator model has a 150-foot wingspan.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.