Boeing has captured widespread attention with its liquid-hydrogen powered Phantom Eye autonomous plane — not just from the United States, but from other countries, as well.
That was one of the more interesting tidbits from a telephone press briefing this afternoon with Boeing officials including Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager — offering an update on the status of the company’s Phantom Eye testing. The plane is designed to stay aloft for up to four days, at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet, providing “persistent monitoring over large areas.”
Boeing officials declined to identify the countries or foreign entities from which the interest came, but described it as very early interest and said the company has been simply fielding inquiries and answering questions at this point. Any sale to a foreign entity would have to work through the restrictions of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, they acknowledged.
Boeing considers the unmanned plane a “game changer.” Once operational, the aircraft will be able to take off from the continental United States and go to almost any point on the globe and remain over an area for several days to monitor a situation on the ground.
Phantom Eye completed its first flight June 1 at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, staying aloft for 28 minutes and reaching an altitude of 4,080 feet. The landing gear broke at the end of the flight, but Boeing says it’s assessing the situation and making repairs in preparation for future flights, aiming to get the plane to full altitude.
(Photo by Boeing)