Bird of Prey

(In which our resident Trekkie goes “Squeeeeee!!!!!!!)

About 20 years ago, Boeing wanted to gain insight into certain aspects of stealth technology and unconventional airframes, as it absorbed McDonnell Douglas, and moved into the tactical aircraft business. And the best way to do that was get a little hands on experience by building a technology demonstrator. That is, they built a one of a kind airplane, just because they could, and to see what happened.  The result was one of the more visually striking aircraft ever.

Even better, there’s video of it!


Looking at it, you’d think it was a hypersonic starplane, ready to blast its way straight to orbit. Actually, given the limitations on how it was constructed (hydraulic flight controls were used to save money) and the fact that stealth is stealth at whatever speed, the top speed was a very mild 260 knots, and the  max altitude was only 20,000 feet.

Boeing built and tested the Bird of Prey with its own money. As a private venture, it was never given an “X” number or any other government designation.  It was, however, donated to the Air Force museum after the test program was completed.

Total program cost? $67 million. And the experience gained has been used by Boeing on its X-45 unmanned aerial vehicle. 

(Later production variant is much larger, with sufficient space in the fuselage to accommodate two whales)

23 thoughts on “Bird of Prey”

    1. Brad, did you hear a whooshing sound a few moments ago? It was a joke going over your head …

      1. Of course I got the joke. I was enjoying that movie when you were still crapping your pants.

        I just thought the smart readers here might be interested to know what it was really made of.

    2. It was an affliction, and opened me up to lots of teasing, being in 4th grade when ST:IV came out …

  1. Did they have to steal high energy photons from the nuclear wessels to get it running?

  2. Only 260 knots maximum airspeed? Considering how small the wing area is, just how far is that above stall speed even if they could maximize laminar flow? At least the fuselage seems to be a lifting body, but she likely had a high landing speed, even with flaps at full extension. The size and shape of the main inlet is also a concern, it would seem to be at risk of a flame out if she should take high angles of attack.

    Yet it is impressive they made her work, their engineers must have channeled Kelly Johnson’s genius.

    So long as they learned things to apply to fast moving dogfighters and low and slow bomb sleds.

    But I would never fly her . . .

    Oh . . . and keeping with the current theme, fellow readers:

    “They are not the hell your whales . . .”

    1. Hidden inside the fuselage of the Bird is an antigravity generator, courtesy of the captured UFOs also at Area 51.That’s what allows it to stay airborne with such a small wing area. Kind of like a bumble bee.
      That’s what the people who visit Rachel, NV, keep telling me…

    2. Bumble Bees are not fixed-wing aircraft . . . they are ornithopters that insist on beating it into submission.

      Sometimes I wish I could do that . . .

      Could I borrow that AG-Generator . . .? I promise I will sign for it and conduct all proper PMCS pre and post flight. I will even read the Dash Ten first.

      Is the AG an inertial mass driver or does it rely on the Hutchison Effect?

      Not keen on getting a prostate or colorectal exam from the tsa . . .

    3. RoundHammer, why waste your time beating the air into submission, when there are so many useful idiots who deserve that beating.
      While I can’t discuss much about the AG unit (classification and such), look up “Gravity Planer” for more information. -10 manuals are hard to get and read. Too many dots and commas…
      Hutchinson effect, how quaint!

    4. I have no interest in beating on the useful idiots . . . they NEVER learn.

      I would much rather shoot them . . . THEN they learn. Permanently.

      Alas, since I cannot do that either . . . I avoid them at all costs. Which is a challenge in the socialist fiefdom of new york . . .

  3. Just to pick a nit, Boeing would be returning to tactical aircraft production, not entering it. Back in the late 1920s/ early 1930s they a number of Navy fighters.

    1. But . . . but . . . you FORGOT the humorous Star Trek IV reference . . .

      Combo breaker . . . bummer . . .

  4. Yeah, RH, but I was up late the night before, and woke up early; brain wasn’t working right then… 🙂

    One of my faves: “Spock, where the hell’s the power you promised?” “One damn minute, Admiral.”

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