Boeing Bird of Prey
The Boeing Bird of Prey was a black project tested at the top secret Groom Lake facility. The Bird of Prey, named after the Klingon one in Star Trek, was a stealth technology demonstrator. Developed by the McDonnell Douglas Phantom Works (which later became part of Boeing), only one Bird of Prey technology demonstrator was built, taking to the air in the fall of 1996.
Funded entirely by the company, Bird of Prey was a relatively low cost programme at $67 million, utilising off-the-shelf components. To keep expenses down, the Aircraft used a Pratt & Whitney JT15D which is commonly found in Citation Jets and the Beechjet. It is speculated that the aircraft tested active camouflage, the ability to match the local environment, changing colour and luminosity. Cloaking! Another reason to reference Star Trek. Despite its radical appearance, the aircraft was aerodynamically stable enough to use manual hydraulic controls rather than fly-by-wire, reducing both development time and cost.
The aircraft made 39 flights before the programme’s conclusion in 1999, helping develop technologies since used on Boeing’s X-45 and X-47 unmanned combat air vehicles.
After the programme’s conclusion, Bird of Prey was stored in Dyson’s Dock for three years before being declassified in October 2002. In October 2002 Boeing revealed the existence of the Bird of Prey.
The sole Bird of Prey can be found at the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton Ohio.