Phantom Ray Away

Boeing’s Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system flew for the first time under its own power from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. The aircraft attained an altitude of 7,500 feet and a speed of 178 knots during the 17-minute hop on April 27 to validate its basic airworthiness, the company announced Tuesday. “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,” said Craig Brown, Boeing’s Phantom Ray program manager. Boeing will continue flying the Ray over the next few weeks, expanding its flight envelope. Company officials say they see potential for Phantom Ray in a wide variety of roles including intelligence gathering, air defense suppression, and electronic warfare. The aircraft completed taxi testing in March. It arrived at Edwards in December, carried piggyback style on a modified 747 airplane.