Boeing has begun to assemble an unmanned, liquid-hydrogen powered, high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) aircraft. The twin-engine Phantom Eye will have a 150-foot wingspan and be capable of flying for more than four days at altitudes up to 65,000 feet while carrying a payload of up to 450 pounds. In addition, the Boeing Phantom Works is working on Phantom Ray, a fighter-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will serve as a flying test bed for advanced technologies.


Boeing has begun to assemble an unmanned, liquid-hydrogen powered, high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) aircraft. The twin-engine Phantom Eye will have a 150-foot wingspan and be capable of flying for more than four days at altitudes up to 65,000 feet while carrying a payload of up to 450 pounds.

Phantom Eye is designed to maintain a persistent presence in the stratosphere over a specific area, while performing intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and communication missions. Boeing engineers are also developing a larger HALE that will stay aloft for more than 10 days and carry payloads of more than 2,000 pounds. In addition, the Boeing Phantom Works is working on Phantom Ray, a fighter-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will serve as a flying test bed for advanced technologies.

“The essence of Phantom Eye is its propulsion system,” says Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works. “After five years of technology development, we are now deploying rapid prototyping to bring together n UAV with a breakthrough liquid-hydrogen propulsion system that will be ready to fly early next year.”

“We believe Phantom Eye and Phantom Ray represent two areas where the unmanned aerial vehicle market is heading,” adds Dave Koopersmith, vice president of Advanced Boeing Military Aircraft. “These innovative demonstrators reduce technology risks and set the stage for meeting both military and commercial customers’ future needs.”

Phantom Eye’s entire propulsion system, including its engine, turbo chargers and engine control system, successfully completed an 80-hour test in an altitude chamber last month, clearing the way for the propulsion system and UAV to be assembled.

According to Davis, Phantom Eye evolved from Boeing’s earlier success with the piston-powered Condor, which set several records for altitude and endurance in the late 1980s. Boeing is working closely with Aurora Flight Sciences, Ball Aerospace, Ford Motor Co. and Mahle Powertrain to develop the experimental aircraft. Phantom Ray evolved from the X-45C program and is scheduled to make its first flight in December.