The Boeing Persistent Munition Technology Demonstrator (PMTD), a test bed for future unmanned aerial vehicles, flew autonomously for the first time during a test in April at
Boeing says it developed the 60-pound PMTD to demonstrate emerging technologies through incremental upgrades and flight demonstration phases. With a wingspan of 12 feet, the vehicle’s airframe is designed for extended loiter times, air or surface launch and other potential capabilities.
During the test, the PMTD navigated to 14 programmed locations, changed altitudes at four different points and achieved pre-planned speeds.
“The PMTD is intended to serve as a test bed for future small unmanned aerial vehicles and persistent weapon technologies,” said Carl Avila, director, Advanced Weapons and Missile Systems for Boeing. “We’re looking forward to working with our US Air Force customer to define a PMTD demonstration plan to enable development of future warfighter capabilities.”
After taxi and take off, the remote-controlled vehicle immediately switched to autonomous flight mode. After completing its pre-planned flight profile, the PMTD lined up on the runway for pilot takeover and landing.
“The engineering challenge of reducing weight and cost while improving performance is the type of project that really excites us,” said EDO Corporation CEO James M. Smith.
EDO Corporation funded the PMTD composite airframe development, and Boeing funded all PMTD flight tests.
This first phase of the PMTD program focused on demonstrating autonomous flight capabilities. Future plans include sensor integration and enhanced weapon terminal guidance demonstration, as well as possible in-flight refuelling and munitions dispense testing.