How Boeing's Phantom Ray rose from its ghostly grave

Self-funded development positions company for future competitions

Boeing’s April test flight of the Phantom Ray drone almost never happened due to an order in 2007 from the U.S. military directing the contractor to cease work on and dismantle the Phantom Ray’s predecessor, the X-45C, a pioneering unmanned jet fighter, reports David Axe of’s Danger Room blog.

The order came as another blow to Boeing, which was given little explanation and had been beaten by fellow aerospace contractor Northrop Grumman for the second time in five years, this time in the bid to build the Navy’s “Unmanned Combat Air System.”

So in what seemed like a controversial and risky decision, Boeing made the choice to perfect the Phantom Ray without input from the military community, which might eventually pay off for the company if it wins future competitions, such as the Navy's follow-on program to N-UCAS and also the robot component of the Air Force's next-generation bomber program.

Defense Systems Update

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