Phantom Ray Takes to the Skies
It has been an ongoing project by Boeing, but the success achieved by their test flight was only recently released. The stealthy looking delta winged drone, named the Phantom Ray, is a great advance in aviation technology, and has become the leader in the combat drone industry. Edwards Air Force Base, which is located in the Mojave Desert, was the venue for the test flight that took place on 27 April 2011, and only positive feedback has been received from the flight.
The main aim of the Phantom Ray is to be able to fly into enemy territories undetected and to take out necessary targets to clear a safe flight path for bomber and fighter aircraft. What makes the Phantom Ray so unique from other drone aircraft is that while other models are driven by remote control, the Phantom Ray can be operated through a computer, allowing the human pilot to control the aircraft from miles away. These intricate computer programs, research and dedication shown by all involved in the project saw to it that the Phantom Ray could take off and complete a seventeen minute test flight. During the test flight, the Phantom Ray reached staggering speeds of up to two hundred and five miles per hour and flew at an altitude of seven thousand five hundred feet.
Program Manager of the Boeing Phantom Ray commented that the test flight now allows the team to improve on the unmanned aircraft technology and that the Phantom Ray has ultimately set the bar higher for all unmanned aircraft. To achieve all its goals, the Phantom Ray was designed with embedded engines that will not only reduce noise, but heat as well, and the shapes of its wings were designed to be able to avoid radar detection. It was constructed at their St Louis complex and is thirty-six feet in length with a wingspan of fifty feet.
The Phantom Ray project is not funded, meaning that Boeing is paying for every aspect of the development. To transport the Phantom Ray to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Centre, a Boeing 747 was modified to transport the drone. Test flights and research will continue, because ultimately the Phantom Ray is designed to reach speeds of over six hundred miles an hour and be able to fly at an altitude of forty thousand feet. Boeing also has another drone under development at the centre, with a hundred and fifty foot wingspan, altitude estimates of approximately sixty-five thousand feet and will be driven by liquid hydrogen as fuel. It has been named the Phantom Eye.