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Boeing Phantom Eye and Ray UAVs Using Liquid Hydrogen Propellant

In April 2008, I talked about Boeing putting the first manned fuel cell powered aircraft into flight. And there have been many times in the past 4 years (yes, the blog is that old), that I’ve talked about hydrogen powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

A new liquid hydrogen-powered UAV which is also a high altitude long endurance (HALE) aircraft called the Boeing Phantom Eye is getting ready to be demonstrated. According to Boeing Phantom Works president Darryl Davis, “The essence of Phantom Eye is its propulsion system. After five years of technology development, we are now deploying rapid prototyping to bring together an unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] with a breakthrough liquid-hydrogen propulsion system that will be ready to fly early next year.”

The important aspects of the Boeing Phantom Eye include its 150 ft. wingspan, 450 lb. payload capability, 65,000 top altitudes and the ability to stay aloft for 4 days. This makes the Phantom Eye a military aircraft that will be useful for surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance and communication.

But, wait, there’s more (as they say on those cheesy commercials on TV). Boeing is also working on a larger HALE called the Phantom Ray, which will be able to carry a 2,000 lb payload and stay in the air for 10 days. Both the Phantom Eye and Phantom Ray will be propelled by clean hydrogen fuel, fly higher than most typical UAVs and keep military personnel out of harm’s way, while recovering critical intelligence on the ground.

When one thinks of government agencies like NASA and the U. S. military, green energy rarely comes to mind. But, this is the direction both are moving towards and this lead by example philosophy is what we need more of in order to fully realize a hydrogen-based transportation system in the near future.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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9 comments

  1. What about Aerovironment’s Global Observer? It’s in the same class and in final testing, isn’t it?
    http://www.avinc.com/uas/stratospheric/global_observer/
    Sounds like Boeing is late to the party.

  2. admin

    Good point and thanks for the resource especially since both vehicles are using liquid hydrogen for a propellant.

  3. Don’t think AV’s Global Observer has started flight testing – it certainly isn’t in final testing. There’s been rumors of trouble with their power plant. So, we’ll have to see.

  4. What is the propulsion engine for phantom eye ?
    What kind of engine is used ?
    Is his engine connected to propeller or others directly ?

  5. admin

    Sungon, if you follow the link I’ve provided on the blog you’ll find more info.

  6. Boeing is using a ford super-charged ford engine.

  7. so what is a uav

  8. admin

    A UAV stands for “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle”.

  9. Since all six planes are neeedd to complete the flight tests, will they be finished in sequential order or do some have more tasks to perform than the others…or inversely, some have less tasks? If ANA has been promised planes by Feb 2010, it leaves nine months (gestation period) to finish five additional planes and get them flying and completing their tasks.

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