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Great Video of the Stealthy Phantom Ray UAV Taxiing

Check out this video of Boeing’s Phantom Ray UAV undergoing taxi tests at the company’s St. Louis, Mo., facility last month. I don’t know about you, but it’s the first time I’ve seen an stealthy-looking, unmanned jet on the move.

Boeing’s Phantom Works division has been developing the fighter-size plane on its own dime as a technology demonstrator for stealthy UAVs that can do everything from close air support missions to air-to-air refueling and ISR work.

The design actually is based on the company’s X-45 Unmanned Combat Aerial System (UCAS) prototype which lost the competition to supply the U.S. Navy with a stealthy combat drone to Northrop Grumman’s X-47B a couple of years ago.

The X-45 is supposed to be flying on the back of the NASA’s modified 747 space shuttle transporter today to Edwards Air Force Base in California in preparation for a flight to Edwards Air Force Base in California where it will undergo further taxi tests and, if all goes well, a first flight in early 2011.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Formerly Skeptic December 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm

X-47B first taxi from January: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUDDvbK0wuY


blight December 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Is the X-45 unable too short-ranged to fly from St. Louis to Edwards, or is it a fear of losing the prototype?


blight December 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Correction, is "Is the Phantom Ray…"


Justin H December 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm

The FAA hates UAVs, plus this is a prototype that has never flown.


Justin H December 14, 2010 at 11:05 pm



A. Nonymous December 14, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Justin is correct - the FAA hasn't certified UAV's for solo flights in commercial airspace, especially experimental models that don't have FAA air-worthiness certs. Exceptions have been permitted for UAVs (Global Hawk, etc.) flown with chase planes, and the MQ-1 Predators used by DHS/CBP have exceptions for the airspace from their launch/recovery sites in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to their assigned orbit routes along the border.


Goobolt December 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Where did you find this vid?


Justin H December 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm



Justin H December 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

During J-UCAS I dont recall the X-45A ever having a tail-hook or practicing fake Carrier landings. So I pretty sure that Boeing was just trying for an Air Force contract, and Northrup was going for a Navy contract.


William C. December 13, 2010 at 6:38 pm

The X-45N was the variant proposed for the Navy and was pretty much a X-45C with the capability to operate from a carrier.


bobbymike December 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Awesome, between this the X-37B, rail guns, HTV-2, and advances in directed energy the rest of the world is being told we will maintain our technological superiority.


Oblat December 13, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Dont think Afghan farmers planting thier IEDs really care though.


bobbymike December 14, 2010 at 3:33 am

Non sequitur alert !


roguetrooper December 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Techno superiority is all very well, but if the idiots in charge simply sell everything to the Chinese over the next century………………


elgatoso December 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Do not forget the Boeing X-51


William A. Peterson December 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Sorry, but anything that looks like that needs to be hovering on Repulsorlifts, not rolling around on Landing Gear! :->


John December 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm

One of the rare websites that the video doesn't work on FireFox, Since FireFox is used by about 1/3 of the web users, you need to make it FireFox compatible


Howe December 13, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I use FF, and it worked on mine…
perhaps your "NoScript" blocked it…mine did at first. (assuming you use that add-on)


Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

Or you need to learn how to use the interweb and/or computer…


Justin H December 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Here is the Phantom Ray atop the NASA 747 during takeoff.


Jerome_Stanley December 14, 2010 at 12:33 am

Using part of the carrier the shuttle used; to me means its a in plain sight test of a capability which points to future space flights and then taxi retrieval back to base hanger via 747.

Instead of jet engine, hardpoint a drop booster rocket, put a second hook on the dorsal side, and then swing under a modified (much bigger) Rutan White Night and blamo… no need for extra spice or secret sauce for robotic low earth orbit delivery of whatever you want.

Land it at night at Guam (or many other isolated airfields friendly to a safe de orbit) then fly it back under darkness to Edwards or Area 51, via 747 @9k m for most the trip, refit & relaunch via uber white knight.

If not this exact airframe how about that it's about same as the space plane recently launched in terms of size yes?


jerome_stanley December 14, 2010 at 12:43 am

Forgot the supporting link.


roguetrooper December 14, 2010 at 1:06 pm

same problem as HOTOL, cheaper orbit capable systems are on the drawing board,


jerome_stanley December 14, 2010 at 12:44 am

ergh! http://www.space.com/common/forums/viewtopic.php?…


STemplar December 14, 2010 at 2:32 am

Good stuff. They get this or the X-47 to work and that is a real game changer for the USN. Huge leap in strike radius.


M Appolus December 14, 2010 at 7:52 am

Notice how much care was taken in the vid not to show the rear hemisphere/exhaust nozzle. Wonder why?? Possibly some new IR diffuser design that is still secret??


Justin H December 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Its probably the same as on the X-45A, and they didnt think it was important enough to show it.


guy December 15, 2010 at 1:05 am

Couldn't bee too secret if they are testing it in plain view of a busy freeway.


bobbymike December 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

I like how at the beginning one of the computer monitors have the entire map of North America on it. For I high speed taxi test? Just funny to me.


Guest December 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

I saw these things get shot out of the sky in skyline


crackedlenses December 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Uh, video games don't count……


AeroEngineer December 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

The lack of a rear tail and wing shape make this highly enlikely for space based purposes. The shape doesn't lend itself to the high altitudes and extreme velocity of a space vehicle.
Photos of the rear where shown before, didnt' seem to be anything radical, but pictures where at a distance.


Skysoldier173 December 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Ur probably looking at part of a first strike against Iran. UCAV's are gonna play a big part in an airstrike. How long do we have until Iran's nuke program reaches the "point of no return?" There will be massive airstrikes and a war with Hezbollah to boot. I hope it can be avoided.


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