Boeing Gets $9M More to Develop Phantom Swift X-Plane

Phantom SwiftBoeing received a $9 million contract from DARPA to continue developing its Phantom Swift X-Plane, an experimental future vertical lift platform.

 The Phantom Swift has two downward facing fans that allow for vertical take-offs and landings. The forward propulsion for the aircraft comes from wingtip thrusters that propel the Phantom Swift after the lift fans are shutdown.

The Phantom Swift is Boeing’s submission for DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane competition that also includes Aurora Flight Sciences, Karem and Sikorsky. The competition started last year. The four competitors received Phase 1 contracts. The contract Boeing received is a Phase 1B contract. It’s unclear if the other three companies have also received Phase 1B contracts to continue developing their aircraft.

Boeing’s Phantom Swift will measure 13 meters nose to tail and 15 meters from wingtip to wingtip.

The eventual aircraft will be powered by an all-electric drive, but it’s demonstrator will be powered by a General Electric CT7-8 engine.

The goal of the VTOL X-Plane program is to develop an aircraft for the Defense Department that can both hover and still execute high-speed flight. What DARPA hopes to produce is an aircraft that can perform similar to an advanced Osprey.

Requirements for the program state that the X-Plane must achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt to 400 kt.



About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Andy

    Got to add the missiles on the wings.

  • Mystick

    Where does the cargo go… with the placement of those impellers?

    • blight_qwerty

      Concept phantom works aircraft.

      • Mystick

        Yes, I realize it’s a concept craft, but the purpose of the production craft should be taken into account so that massive, radical design changes don’t have to be implemented to be able to execute the mission. This is why we waited for 30 years for the V-22.

        • blight_adfslwtd

          That is also what drove JSF off the rails: the X-35 design was reworked, which caused a new round of optimizations and compromises.

          That said, X-series aircraft used to be one-offs that would never be anything like serial production. There’s a long history of tilt-rotors and tilt-wing VTOL aircraft that were X-series that suggested that the concept wasn’t ready yet in the 60’s or 70’s.

          The X-35 was experimental, yes, but not in a way that was supposed to be suggestive of a design closer to concept. We treated it more like a Y-35 in that it was meant to lead directly to a production article, instead of a X-series meant to prove a concept.

  • Mitch S.

    All electric drive?
    Are they expecting some amazing battery breakthrough or are we talking about a generator (gas turbine?) providing power for electric motors?
    I can see some possible advantages for tilting electric motors vs turbine engines but the fixed fans too? – wouldn’t there be a weight penalty?

    • JCitizen

      Electric energy storage is rapidly evolving right now; they have body and frame components in cars that act as carbon ultra capacitors – I wouldn’t doubt with new cold fusion experiments, and just looking at what is coming in the market for Electric Vehicles, that they in fact do expect Moore’s Law and/or other miracles to come along in that route. The worlds first private pilot electric plane has already gone on sale a few month ago, so I think the science will jel by then, easily.

  • Kostas

    Based on this artist’s impression it has a very limited cargo space between the rotors.

    • rtsy

      Plans are for cargo space between the rotors, in the nose, and in the tail of the craft.

  • Tiger

    More Agents of SHEILD toys from Nick Fury & Tony Stark….

  • OriginalK

    Skynet will be pleased with the design

  • anthony

    Adapted from comic book,or new blimp?

  • rat

    $9,000,000 for a toy RC!? But alas, the DoD will have to build a less stealthy version for export, and the Marines will want a VSTOL variant.

    • JohnQ

      $9m is about right for that. It costs billions or even tens of billions to develop a real aircraft, so for single-digit millions all you can expect is a toy RC demonstrator.

      • Dylan

        I wouldn’t quickly call a demonstrator with a CT7-8 engine sitting in it a ‘Toy RC’ demonstrator.

  • Thunderbirds are GO!

    • mike

      That is the first thing I thought too. Now if Northrop Grumman can come up with Thunderbird 1, 2, 3, and 4. We’ll just have to figure were to attach the strings to the crew members!. LOL ROTF

  • rtsy

    I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the speed at which the test design was built with rapid prototyping. 30 days from drawing to flying model.

  • Joe

    I promised you more information about Kane and NOD but we need you to take the Phantom Swift into action asap.

  • oblat35

    A tedious design. We already have an aircraft that can accomplish all this the f-35. And it handles like a cargo plane too

    • Dfens

      Yes, but this was brought to you by the same company that lied when it said it’s X-32 would take off and land vertically. Aren’t you glad the federal government found a way to send them more money for yet one more VTOL boondoggle? And if it doesn’t work, who will take responsibility for the failure, the US taxpayer as always.

  • MovieMan

    As posted already we have the F 35 technology why not use that we only spent billions developing it. Oh I forgot the F35 is billions over budget any no matter what model you look at nothing works. So lets do the same thing all over again. What’s that definition
    of insanity?

    • William_C1

      So rather than use the technology (which does work) developed for the F-35 in other programs you’d rather use old designs like the C-2 for another 100 years?

      • blight_adfslwtd

        The X-35 would’ve been an acceptable 4.5th generation production article. No internal weapons bays though, though low RCS weapons casings and conformal pods would have been acceptable workarounds. As a plus the aircraft was designed around using legacy avionics that were due for upgrade-in-place articles in the current air fleet. And the X-35 would’ve then been eventually upgraded to some sort of “Super JSF” standard, just as the Hornet was.

    • Robert Little

      Lockheed built the F-117, a flying brick that was essentially a proof of concept; Lockheed built the F-22, a stealth design that after 20 years is still the most potent fighter in the air; Lockheed built the F-35 series of planes, which are slower and less stealthy than the F-22. Did you ever wonder why that is so? Did the company just go stupid or did it realize a Truth – that speed and stealth are both yesterday’s technology. They designed a plane that is reasonably fast and reasonably stealthy mainly to hold three supercomputers. These planes can hack enemy systems, they can see what all other allied planes see and can control a battlespace. If the F-22 is a super athlete, the F-35 is a terrific team, and therein lies the difference. Either China or Russia can overwhelm the F-22 by simply sending more planes than the limited number of missiles the ’22’s can carry, but the ’35 is supposed to be built in large enough numbers to turn the math back in our favor. Already, IR sensors and new radars are being used to passively detect the ’22 and all other stealth designs, and missiles are becoming far faster, smarter and more prevalent, but to date, nobody has anything remotely able to stand up to the first software fighter, whose programming can be updated. Although it would be nice to get the original programming up and running.

      • yeah right

        Really? F-22 is the most potent fighter in the air? You mean against its own pilot, right? The only ones the F-22 has killed so far have been its own pilots.

      • Riceball

        The problem with your idea is that we don’t have near enough of F-22s for a real stand up war against a near peer enemy and the F-35 is really turning out all that well and has an even smaller missile capacity than the F-22. For the F-35 to really compensate for the F-22s small numbers and relatively limited missile capacity we’re going to need a whole lot more than we’re planning on getting or have them carry external armaments which will greatly reduce its already limited stealth capability.

  • ChristopherS

    This might be good for CAS Aircraft with 360 weapons such as the Remote Guardian System with a 20mm/30mm cannon or an air based version of the RIM-116. Otherwise It would have to be the size of an C-130 if they wanted it to do the same job as a Blackhawk.

    • Tiger

      Not everything needs a gun stuck on it. The C-130/ blackhawk thing makes no sense.

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        “Not everything needs a gun stuck on it” – Oh, but everything DOES need a gun stuck to it (aircraft, ships, cars, shopping trollies, donkeys….) :-)

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

      • ChristopherS

        Well until somebody invents a rocket or missile that is immune to ECM and active protection systems. Your still going to put a gun on a helicopter.
        This thing is going to be gigantic to do the job of one Blackhawk. As the internal fans are going to compromise cargo space.

  • Dfens

    More research for the sake of funding.

    • Martian Shocktrooper

      “More research for the sake of funding.”

      Just another way of saying, “Only the independently wealthy need apply.”

    • Riceball

      More research for the sake of seeing how far we can push existing tech and/or to test new ideas and concepts. The idea is that after we do the research we can then determine whether or not the ideas and concepts tested are ready for prime time yet and can eventually be incorporated into an actual production aircraft. Or do you think it’s better to come out with a bunch of new ideas and concepts and try them out on a production aircraft and wind up with cost overruns and schedule delays like with the F-22 & (especially the) F-35?

  • amauyong

    Look like one of those hunter killer platform from Sky Net.

  • This is a very good article especially for me
    Many thanks for the article that you have provided
    I will always follow your next article

    thanks a lot :)

  • spurlockda

    Looks like an UAS vice a manned platform. Cargo might be slung underneath rather than carried inside???

    • ChristopherS

      A cargo container would have to be customized so that it wouldn’t compromise the profile and acceleration.