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Old 05-15-2010, 06:52 AM   #1
Sidewinder Zulu

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Default New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Pretty cool:

Quote:
(May 14) -- The latest military aircraft to come out of Boeing's secretive Phantom Works research unit is sleek, stealthy and unmanned. Boeing has spent the past two years developing the Phantom Ray, an aerial vehicle that it hopes to market to the U.S. military as a multirole aircraft that could be using for everything from reconnaissance to ground attack.

The fighter-sized Phantom Ray was rolled out at a ceremony this week in St. Louis. The question now is, who will buy it?

"For the first time in a long time, we are spending our own money on designing, building and flying near-operational prototypes," said Darryl Davis, president of Phantom Works. "We're spending that money to leverage the decades of experience we have in unmanned systems that span the gamut from sea to space."

The U.S. military has to be the first customer offered the craft, but foreign countries could be interested.

The Phantom Ray is based on an aircraft, the X-45, that was developed for the Pentagon as part of a joint Air Force/Navy program to build an unmanned combat aerial vehicle. That program led to Boeing's X-45 and Northrop Grumman's X-47 Pegasus vehicle, which is now part of a Navy program to build an unmanned aircraft that can take off and land from a carrier.

The X-45, however, lost its funding when the Pentagon decided instead to focus on long-range strike. The Phantom Ray, although based on that vehicle, is a larger aircraft and clearly hopes to leverage the Pentagon's eventual plans to buy a platform for long-range strike.

With a wing span of 50 feet and a length of 36 feet, the Phantom Ray makes for an impressive sized robotic plane. It can fly up to 614 miles per hour at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The company didn't release any cost estimates.

"We are on a fast track," Phantom Works head Davis said, according to The Seattle Times. "Phantom Ray is on schedule to fly in December."
Boeing Unveils Phantom Ray Robotic Stealth Plane - AOL News

Here's a picture of what it looks like:

It's the one closest to the camera, in front of the F-18 and F-15.

Sounds like a good aircraft. Seems like one day there may not even be any human pilots, or at least not nearly as many.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:03 AM   #2
Element66

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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Reminds me of that drone BAe are developing at the moment (Taranis?). must be something about that shape/design that makes a good steathy drone...

edit: model of a taranis so you can see where i'm coming from


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Old 05-15-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
Sidewinder Zulu

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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

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Originally Posted by Element66 View Post
Reminds me of that drone BAe are developing at the moment (Taranis?). must be something about that shape/design that makes a good steathy drone...
Yeah, the Phantom looks fairly similar to the B-2 Spirit as well, with the "flying wing" design and all.
Nice thing about UAVs, though, is that you can make them smaller because there's no need for a cockpit or anything, and less weight = more fuel and more weapons.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:17 AM   #4
Pariel
Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Max speed of under Mach 1, and a service ceiling 10,000 feet lower than modern combat aircraft? I don't see how it could possibly fill a niche in our current aircraft acquisitions.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:26 AM   #5
Viper5

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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

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Originally Posted by Pariel View Post
Max speed of under Mach 1, and a service ceiling 10,000 feet lower than modern combat aircraft? I don't see how it could possibly fill a niche in our current aircraft acquisitions.
According to ze Wiki, that's a tad faster than the B2. Also, says that is its max speed at 40,000 feet, not that 40,000 is the ceiling. B2's is only 50.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:48 AM   #6
Dunehunter
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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pariel View Post
Max speed of under Mach 1, and a service ceiling 10,000 feet lower than modern combat aircraft? I don't see how it could possibly fill a niche in our current aircraft acquisitions.
"Ah bugger, the Iranians shot down a drone. There goes a couple dozen million."

versus

"Oh ****, we've got a man down in Iranian airspace, get me USSOCOM."


[R-MOD]Jigsaw] I am drunk. I decided to come home early because I can''t realy seea nyithng. I hthknk i madea bad choicce.
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:12 AM   #7
BloodBane611
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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-DEV]Dunehunter View Post
"Ah bugger, the Iranians shot down a drone. There goes a couple dozen million."

versus

"Oh ****, we've got a man down in Iranian airspace, get me USSOCOM."
On the other hand, a drone will always present greater electronic warfare difficulties than a manned plane. A stealth bomber by definition is meant to engage countries with sophisticated air defense systems, which means they would be quite capable of detecting and probably interfering with our the drones communications. I don't see this replacing the B2 anytime soon, especially given general dislike of giving drones the autonomous ability to fire weapons.



[R-CON]creepin - "because on the internet 0=1"

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Old 05-15-2010, 10:40 AM   #8
CastleBravo
Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

You would have to jam the satellites since you wouldn't know where the drone is. Jamming a sat shouldn't be too hard, but the question is how many sats can you jam vs how many do we have that can be used for communication. Also you have to ask yourself how easily we will be able to locate the source of the jamming to send a manned aircraft to shut it down manually with a few smartbombs.

The problem with autonomous drones is letting them decide if a target needs to be fired upon. If you reprogram a target for the drones and send it out we shouldn't have a problem with autonomous weapons release since it is really no different than a cruise missile that flies back home after hitting the target.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:10 AM   #9
[R-MOD]Mongolian_dude
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Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

I cant help but feel that there will be a positive correlation between the amount of Phantom Rays put into service and the amount of UFO sightings.


...mongol...

Military lawyers engaged in fierce legal action.
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:54 PM   #10
Pariel
Default Re: New Stealth UAV for the US Military

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-DEV]Dunehunter View Post
"Ah bugger, the Iranians shot down a drone. There goes a couple dozen million."

versus

"Oh ****, we've got a man down in Iranian airspace, get me USSOCOM."
Sure, if that was the niche these were going to fill, but it's not.

They're intended to fulfill the current niche of the F/A-18E/F and F-16, and it's pretty clear the technology hasn't matured enough to make it cost effective (given that in all likelihood these aircraft will cost 50-100% more than the F-35, for example).

Nor are these specific airframes capable of replacing any of our current fighter-bombers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viper
According to ze Wiki, that's a tad faster than the B2. Also, says that is its max speed at 40,000 feet, not that 40,000 is the ceiling. B2's is only 50.
Well if I only knew the wing type they were using, or it's coefficient of lift, I could calculate a service ceiling from the information we have here. But you are correct, I simply didn't go back and re-read the sentence correctly.

However, both the X-45 and X-47 full sized variants have subsonic maximum airspeeds and service ceilings listed in the 35,000-45,000 range (since these are guesses to some extent, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt). They are in in no way capable of replacing current combat aircraft, because service ceiling and maximum speed are extremely important for the "fighter" portion of their job.

Again, this thing isn't supposed to replace the B-2, it may look like it, but it's size and payload are not similar in any way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [R-MOD]Mongolian_dude View Post
I cant help but feel that there will be a positive correlation between the amount of Phantom Rays put into service and the amount of UFO sightings.


...mongol...
It would be amusing to see this play out.
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