“We’re really excited about this because Phantom Works is back as a rapid prototyping house, operation and organization,” said Craig Brown, Boeing Phantom Ray program manager.
“Phantom Ray represents a series of significant changes we’re making within Boeing Defense, Space & Security,” said Darryl Davis, president of Phantom Works. “For the first time in a long time, we are spending our own money on designing, building and flying near-operational prototypes. We’re spending that money to leverage the decades of experience we have in unmanned systems that span the gamut from sea to space.”
This revolutionary aircraft is on-schedule to take its first taxi tests later this summer and soar through its initial flight profiles as early as December, continuously gaining ground toward becoming an unmanned system that could one day penetrate enemy forces and provide a new specter of security for the warfighter.
With a top speed of 614 mph, the Phantom Ray has a 50-foot wingspan and measures 36 feet long and resembles a giant boomerang — and lacks an obvious cockpit for a pilot, of course. Program manager Craig Brown said, “if you think about it in unmanned systems, it’s not the idea to replace a pilot per say, its to be able to augment the war fighters mission.”
The Phantom Ray evolved from Boeing’s original unmanned aircraft program — the X-45 A and C. Boeing says the Phantom Ray uses advanced fly-by-mouse technology. That means when it’s in the air, the Phantom Ray will be monitored by someone safely on the ground miles away at a computer.
“If any changes are needed in the flight, it’s done by a computer program — no joysticks to alter courses,” says Brown. Teri Finchamp helped build the actual prototype plane that was unveiled at the ceremony,
Boeing says it fronted the money itself to build the prototype. At this point it’s unclear when Boeing might be able to actually sell a Phantom Ray or how much one would cost a buyer.