Boeing Phantom Ray

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Phantom Ray
The Phantom Ray at Dryden Flight Research Center in April 2011
Role Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle
Manufacturer Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
First flight April 27, 2011[1]
Status Under development
Number built 1
Developed from Boeing X-45C

The Boeing Phantom Ray is an American demonstration stealth unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) developed by Boeing using company funds. The autonomous Phantom Ray is a flying wing around the size of a conventional fighter jet, and first flew in April 2011. It will conduct a program of test flights involving surveillance, ground attack and autonomous aerial refueling missions.[2][3] The developers say it can carry 4,500 pounds (2,040 kg) of payload.[4]

Design and development[edit]

The Phantom Ray project, called "Project Reblue" internally at Boeing, was first conceived in mid-2007, and started in earnest in June 2008. The project was secret within the company, except for a small number of executives and engineers, until May 2009.[5]

Developed by the Boeing Phantom Works, the Phantom Ray is based on the X-45C prototype aircraft,[6] which Boeing originally developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US Air Force, and the US Navy Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program in 2002. The Phantom Ray was not aimed at any particular military program or competition,[7] although Boeing considered using the design as an entry for the Navy's Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program.[8]

The Phantom Ray was unveiled on May 10, 2010, in St. Louis, Missouri.[3][9] In November 2010, low-speed taxi tests were carried out in St. Louis.[10][11] The demonstrator aircraft was to perform ten test flights over six months, supporting missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; seek-and-destroy;[12] electronic attack; hunter/killer; and autonomous aerial refueling.[2] Boeing anticipated that the Phantom Ray would be the first of a series of new prototype aircraft.[3]

The Phantom Ray was scheduled to make its maiden flight in December 2010 from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center,[3][10] but this was later rescheduled, and the aircraft first flew on April 27, 2011, from Edwards AFB,[13][14][15] having been carried there by the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.[13][15][16][17] The Phantom Ray flew to 7,500 feet and reached a speed of 178 knots,[18] flying for a total of 17 minutes.[19][20]


The Phantom Ray being carried on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in Missouri in December 2010.

Values for the X-45 are marked with an asterisk (*).

Data from Debut,[3] Boeing backgrounder,[21] Boeing X-45 page[22]

General characteristics

  • Crew: None (UCAV)
  • Length: 36 ft (11 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft (15 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 36,500 lb (16,556 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-102D


  • Cruise speed: 614 mph (988 km/h, 534 kn) mach 0.93
  • Range: 1,500 mi (2,400 km, 1,300 nmi) *
  • Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,000 m) *

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ "Pictures: Phantom Ray first flight raises funding hopes". Flight Global. May 4, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Boeing to Develop, Fly 'Phantom Ray' Technology Demonstrator" Archived March 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Boeing. May 8, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Jackson, Randy. "Phantom Ray makes its debut in St. Louis" Archived May 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Boeing. May 10, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  4. ^ "Phantom Ray Drone Makes Its Debut". Fox News. 24 March 2015.
  5. ^ Butler, Amy. "Boeing Unveils ‘Phantom Ray’ Combat UAS Demonstrator"[permanent dead link]. Aviation Week, May 11, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  6. ^ "Boeing's Phantom Ray – the 'Phoenix' of UCAVs" Archived 2010-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. Aviation Week. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  7. ^ "Breaking: Boeing resurrects X-45C as 'Phantom Ray' testbed". Flight Global, May 8, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  8. ^ "US Navy delays UCLASS RFP". Flight Global, December 11, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  9. ^ Page, Lewis (May 11, 2010). "'Phantom Ray' robot stealth jet rolls out". The Register. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  10. ^ a b Doyle, Andrew (August 25, 2012). "AUVSI: Boeing makes progress with unmanned programmes". Flight Global. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  11. ^ "Boeing Phantom Ray Completes Low-speed Taxi Tests". Boeing, November 22, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  12. ^ "Phantom Ray Drone Makes Its First Flight, A Piggyback Ride on a Shuttle-Carrier 747". 18 March 2019.
  13. ^ a b Trimble, Stephen. "Phantom Ray first flight raises funding hopes". Flight International. May 4, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  14. ^ "Video: Phantom Ray Drone Makes Maiden Solo Flight". Popular Science. May 4, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Boeing Phantom Ray Takes a Ride on NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft". Boeing. December 13, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  16. ^ LaBelle, Kurt. "Phantom Ray Takes A Piggy Back Ride On 747" Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. KTVI via, December 13, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  17. ^ "Boeing Phantom Ray: The Future of Unmanned Terror in the Sky". 3 May 2011.
  18. ^ "Boeing Phantom Ray Completes 1st Flight".
  19. ^ "Boeing's Phantom Ray soars like a terrifying, unmanned eagle". 18 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Boeing's Next-Gen Drone 'Phantom Ray' Takes Maiden Flight". Fox News. 24 March 2015.
  21. ^ Phantom Ray Backgrounder (PDF) Archived March 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Boeing. February 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  22. ^ X-45 Joint Unmanned Combat Air System Archived March 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Boeing. Retrieved June 17, 2013.