Boeing has taken the wraps off the Bird of Prey, a previously classified company-funded demonstrator flown between 1996 and 1999 to test stealth technology.

The $67 million PhantomWorks programme included 38 flights and demonstrated rapid prototyping using three-dimensional design tools and low-cost tooling to produce large, complex composite structures. The programme pioneered technology later used in the Boeing X-45 unmanned air combat vehicle, including the low-observable inlet for the single engine.

The tailless aircraft has an unusual cranked wing set well aft on a dramatically chined, lift-producing fuselage. Thrust vectoring, used for flight control on the X-45 and the X-36 tailless agility research aircraft, also produced by the PhantomWorks, is a likely feature.

The unmanned, subscale X-36 first flew in 1997.


Source: Flight International