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Boeing unveils Phantom Ray combat UAV

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The Phantom Ray will incorporate advanced technological features for potential air missions. A Boeing photo

ST. LOUIS (BNS): US defence major Boeing has officially unveiled Phantom Ray – an all-new advanced unmanned airborne system capable of being deployed in strategic air defence missions.

The sleek, fighter-sized UAV, which Boeing termed as "a test bed for advanced technologies,” was unveiled during a ceremony here on Monday.

The new aircraft has evolved from Boeing's X-45C unmanned aerial combat prototype vehicle that the company had designed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/US Air Force/US Navy Joint-Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) programme nearly a decade ago.

With a 50-foot wingspan and measuring 36 feet long, the multi-mission Phantom Ray incorporates intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities along with suppression of enemy air defences, electronic attack and autonomous aerial refueling.

The aircraft is scheduled to make its maiden flight test in December 2010 which will be followed by at least nine more such tests spanning for a period of six months, Boeing said. The aircraft's taxi tests are slated to start this summer.

“The initial flights will take Phantom Ray through its paces for the flight test profile. Beyond that, the missions and systems tested will be determined by future warfighter needs,” Craig Brown, Phantom Ray programme manager for Boeing, said.

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