By Kalwinder Kaur
On June 1, Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system (UAS) achieved its first autonomous flight at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at California-based Edwards Air Force Base.
The liquid-hydrogen powered aircraft took off its launch cart. This 28-minute flight started around 6:22 a.m. Pacific time. Phantom Eye soared to an altitude of 4,080 ft, and achieved a cruising speed of 62 knots. The vehicle experienced some damage while landing, as the landing gear went inside the lakebed and broke.
According to the President of Boeing Phantom Works, Darryl Davis, marking a milestone in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), the unmanned aircraft will continue to stay on station, ensuring critical information as well as services.
As part of recent Boeing-funded rapid prototyping programs, Phantom Eye encompasses ScanEagle Compressed Carriage, Phantom Ray, Echo Ranger, and an integrated Common Open Mission Management Command and Control (COMC2) system that can efficiently handle Boeing’s unmanned assets.
The launch was achieved after a series of taxi tests during April. Validation was carried out for pilot interface and operational procedures, ground guidance, navigation and control, and mission planning.
Phantom Eye's highly efficient liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will enable the aircraft to remain on station for four days. During its stay, persistent monitoring was provided at a ceiling of up to 65,000 ft over large areas, resulting in water as a byproduct. The 150-foot wingspan demonstrator can carry a 450-lb payload.
Boeing’s portfolio of UAS solutions features Phantom Eye, Phantom Ray, A160T Hummingbird, S-100 Camcopter, H-6U Unmanned Little Bird, Integrator, Dominator, and ScanEagle.