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"Bird of Prey"
October 23, 2002 8:50 AM   Subscribe

"Bird of Prey" unveiled. Boeing revealed the formerly supersecret stealth prototype last Friday in St. Louis. More information at: a New Scientist story, a Popular Science report, Jane's Defense Weekly (subscription required), Boeing's press release and a couple of movies (13 Mb mov or 50 Mb mpg). More...
posted by Irontom (22 comments total)

 
My favorite is the sequence from 1:14 to 1:19 - it looks like something straight out of an old Flash Gordon comic.
posted by Irontom at 8:50 AM on October 23, 2002


A plane like that could take out hundreds of Palestinian children.

kidding...
posted by pemulis at 8:57 AM on October 23, 2002


What's the deal? I watched the video clips, but I didn't see anything.

There's no such thing as an old joke.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:01 AM on October 23, 2002


Yeah, but do they come in an XXL model for U.S. use?
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:05 AM on October 23, 2002


It actually flys without computer intervention which means its a real plane unlike many of the latest high-speed pieces of metal kept afloat by Segway-like technology.
posted by stbalbach at 9:05 AM on October 23, 2002


I like how the W wing makes it look like a duck with it's legs hanging behind it's body. The overall design looks like it was ripped from a flight sim from the mid '90s. I love it. Although I don't know why it's just sub-sonic, why not make it go faster than the speed of sound?
posted by riffola at 9:07 AM on October 23, 2002


I got to get me one of those!
posted by JonnyX at 9:07 AM on October 23, 2002


It's interesting how in all the still photos, the dang thing looks like it's in a bad computer rendering. I wasn't convinced they were real until I saw this one and watched the video.
posted by zsazsa at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2002


Hey, that's my design! I drew it when I was 8. But, mine also had this wicked pissa humungous laser cannon underneath.
posted by dchase at 9:14 AM on October 23, 2002


"Built and tested in the mid-90s"? So what can we expect to see in the coming 2-3 years? I bet this was already obsolete in design and technology some years back, and they wanted to throw a bone to the public. "See, this is what you get for your taxes!" Well, that and ridiculousy expensive toilet seats. Just go to Home Depot, kids.

So it's not fly-by-wire, or fly-by-light? No way Air Force or others (JSF is for several branches) will take that idea. The A-10 Thunderbolt II ("Warthog") was one of the last planes built that was not heavily reliant on computer systems, yet played a major role in Operation Desert Storm as a tank-buster, despite heavy AAA fire. Can they make a simple enough design that will still perform, or is the idea to throw more technology at the problem the best solution?
posted by fijiwriter at 9:38 AM on October 23, 2002


It has a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet and max. speed of 300 mph?

Aren't these specs a bit low for a top-of-the-line, ultrasecret super-stealth plane?
posted by rbellon at 9:44 AM on October 23, 2002


Last I heard, fly-by-wire was supposed to be safer in a combat setting.

It's a lot easier, so zey say, to route multiply-redunant sets of wires or fibers for the control system than it is to route a multiply-redunant set of physical-control cables and hydraulics, so the odds of a single hit taking out the control system are supposed to be lower.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on October 23, 2002


Bird of Prey? Mr. Sulu - shields up!

Note: I'm not a serious Trek Fan - I have no idea if Mr. Sulu raises the shields. :-)
posted by Stuart_R at 10:11 AM on October 23, 2002


It's not a combat aircraft, it's a flying tech testbed for technology which was incorporated into Boeing's Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehichle (UCAV).

That's why it's small and slow.

If you'd only read the articles...
posted by Cerebus at 10:22 AM on October 23, 2002


waste of money. alaskan villagers spotted it right away.
posted by quonsar at 10:35 AM on October 23, 2002


It actually flys without computer intervention which means its a real plane unlike many of the latest high-speed pieces of metal kept afloat by Segway-like technology.

Its top speed is a relatively sedate 480 km/h (300 mph). This is fast for cars, yet were not talking faster than the speed of sound like most of the US fighter jets.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:08 AM on October 23, 2002


PS, I was searching for this plane on the net yesterday, Sunday's CNN mentioned it was being retired after 30 something flights.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:11 AM on October 23, 2002


Ooooh! Airplane porn! Yummm. ;)ΒΈ'
posted by carter at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2002


Although I don't know why it's just sub-sonic, why not make it go faster than the speed of sound?
posted by riffola


Most stealth aircraft are designed to be subsonic. It's easier because you don't have the twin requirements on the controls of super sonic capability and low radar signature. And no matter how tough it is to see a plane it's pretty easy to locate when generating a big sonic boom.
posted by Mitheral at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2002


I get a 404 on both video files. I guess the MIBs have finally woken up and started the cover-up :)
posted by kaemaril at 4:53 PM on October 23, 2002


Thanks for the explanation Mitheral.
posted by riffola at 7:11 PM on October 23, 2002


I got the impression that it's pedestrian performance is because the Boeing people wanted to show that they could build a prototype plane for a relative small sum of money. Thus they just put in an ordinary jet engine from an executive jet plane.

And the military is embracing flying-by-wire computer augmented controls in the new fighter jets because it is the only way they are able to get the performance they're looking for. Basically unstable aerodynamics are transformed into unsurpassed maneuverability.
posted by cx at 12:12 PM on October 24, 2002


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