Boeing Bullish on Phantom Eye UAV Despite Crash
Even though the Phantom Eye, Boeing’s high-altitude, long-endurance UAV prototype, crashed during its first test flight,
the company viewed the flight as a “huge success” and received positive responses from potential customers, said Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft.
The unmanned aircraft was damaged after its landing gear failed following a short test flight in early June. The Phantom Eye is designed to serve as a communications platform that can hover over a battlefield for days at a time.
“Yes, we had a little mishap after landing, but with the data we collected, our customers were unbelievably excited,” Chadwick said. “If you look at it from a perspective of innovation, innovation is not necessarily always pretty. Things happen along the way. But if you look at Phantom Eye from any perspective it was a huge success.”
The company used its own funds to develop the prototype in response to a gap in capability, Chadwick said.
“When we look at Phantom Eye, what pushed us to develop a prototype is there truly is an unmet need in a wide area of war fighting for our customers,” he said. “Persistent ISR, persistent communications, having the right sensors on a platform that can stay up for days or weeks at a time, there is no capability like that today. So we’re really bullish about Phantom Eye.
The marketability of the product is unclear, but Chadwick said the lessons learned from the program would be applied to future UAV and surveillance systems.