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It's proving a long wait, given they are supposed to be "rapid" programs, but Boeing has begun taxi tests of its private-venture Phantom Eye hydrogen-fueled high-altitude, long-endurance UAV, while Mav6 has attached the payload/control car to its M1400 surveillance airship. Both are aimed at providing endurance measured in days, not hours.Pictures: Mav6Planned for deployment to Afghanistan and designed to stay aloft at 20,000 ft. for up to nine days, the M1400 is being built for the US Air Force's Blue Devil 2 program. It's hard to tell the sheer scale of the 370 ft.-long helium airship from the picture above, so below is a view from the top, showing the recently installed maneuvering valves.The M1400 is powered by three Thielert turbo-diesels. Phantom Eye, meanwhile, has a pair of Ford truck engines modified to run on hydrogen and triple-turbocharged to operate at high altitude. The 150 ft.-span demonstrator is designed to stay aloft at 65,000 ft. for four days, as a precursor to a 10-day-endurance UAV. I'm sure it will fly well, but the Phantom Eye looks a little ungainly on the ground at Edwards AFB, on its take-off trolley AFB, taxiing (video here).Photo: Boeing Phantom Works
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