Staying in the Game

Boeing plans to begin flight testing in December the stealthy uninhabited aircraft it announced last spring as the Phantom Ray, Boeing Phantom Works chief Darryl Davis told reporters Monday via telecon. Flying the Phantom Ray, Boeing’s name for the completed X-45C prototype, and using it as a testbed for stealth and other technologies will keep the company “a relevant competitor” for the long range strike aircraft, MQ-X next-generation remotely piloted vehicle, and Navy FA-XX fighter, he said. It will also keep Boeing’s talent fresh if the Navy makes the next phase of its carrier-based unmanned aircraft program competitive. Davis said all the major airframers are trying to figure out how to keep their “skill mix” relevant during the current dearth of new programs. Still, he said, Boeing wouldn’t be investing in areas like Phantom Ray “if we didn’t think there were lots of places to use the technology.”