Boeing readies UAS flight demonstrations

Boeing Co. will conduct a first flight to two different unmanned aircraft systems in the next 10 months as part of the company’s initiative to get its UAS business back on track, reports Amy Butler at Aviation Week.

Boeing Co. will conduct a first flight to two different unmanned aircraft systems in the next 10 months as part of the company’s initiative to get its UAS business on track, reports Amy Butler at Aviation Week. Company officials hope the UASs will lead to future contracts that meet the Defense Department's expanding UAS needs.

The company is not attempting to go head-to-head against market leaders such as Northrop Grumman Corp. or General Atomics for mission needs that those companies are already dealing with, Boeing officials said.  


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Northrop Grumman makes the X-47 Navy combat UAS demonstrator and the Air Force’s high-altitude surveillance Global Hawk, and General Atomics fields the Air Force’s Predator and Reaper hunter/killer unmanned systems.

Until recently, it was thought that Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing were trailing far behind Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. But Lockheed Martin’s work on the formerly classified stealthy RQ-170 was exposed last year and Boeing is now revealing its revised market strategy.

Boeing's Phantom Ray demonstrator is a revived version of the defunct X-45C program. Boeing officials think the Phantom Ray’s technology could apply to a number of future DOD acquisitions, such as the Air Force’s unmanned MQ-X and Long-Range Strike program and the Navy’s unmanned combat air system and F/A-XX future strike aircraft.

The company plans to conduct flight worthiness tests for Phantom Ray and then move on to expand the flight envelope and conduct other trials. The stealthy Phantom Ray is designed to carry about a 4,500 lb. payload roughly 1,000 nautical miles round trip without refueling.

Boeing also is attempting to gain ground in the market with its Phantom Eye demonstrator, which would provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The twin-engine prototype is designed to stay aloft at 60,000 feet for days at a time. The company intends to conduct a 96-hour flight demonstration to prove Phantom Eye’s ISR endurance capabilities.

The idea behind Phantom Eye is to field an intelligence collecting UAS that might meet the Defense Missile Agency’s future needs for a persistent ballistic missile launch detector and tracker.

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