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Boeing X-50 Dragonfly UAV

1/72 scale, price US$25 with decals (plus $10 air insured shipping)*
please note, prices subject to change. Refer to AVAILABLE KITS page for current prices.

Boeing has now developed a very interesting UAV demonstrator, the "X-50A Dragonfly", with funding from a three-year DARPA contract awarded in late 1998. DARPA provided $12 million USD of government money, while Boeing provided matching company funds. The Dragonfly features a "canard-rotor wing (CRW)" configuration, with a slender fuselage, a wide twin-fin canard wing in back, canard fins up front, and a "rotor wing" on top. The CRW configuration provides true vertical take-off capability, with much better flight performance than a helicopter. On takeoff and landings, the rotor wing spins using jet exhausts in the wingtips, but once in flight the rotor wing is fixed in place to act as an auxiliary wing.

The DARPA contracts specified the construction of two prototypes. The initial flight of the first prototype was on 3 December 2003. The Dragonfly prototypes each weigh about 662 kilograms (1,460 pounds), have a length of 5.4 meters (17 feet 8 inches), with a rotor wing span of 3.66 meters (12 feet), a forward canard span of 2.71 meters (8 feet 11 inches), and a tail span of 2.47 meters (8 feet 1 inch). Boeing feels the design can be directly scaled up to as much as 2,500 kilograms (5,510 pounds).

The X-50s are powered by a Williams Research F-112 turbofan, as developed for the USAF Advanced Cruise Missile. The Dragonfly's engine exhaust is switched through a diverter through titanium pipes to the rotor wingtips for VTOL and hoverflight, or to provide rearward thrust through a tailpipe. Some of the engine output is directed through thrusters to assist in flight control in hovering flight.

The rotor uses a simple gimballed hub, which is locked in place after the aircraft transitions to forward flight. The CRW has no tail rotor, which is not required since the rotor jet-exhaust system does not transfer torque to the airframe, and the scheme also eliminates much of the complicated drive system of a conventional helicopter. However, the small rotor leads to high "disk loading", and the type is not expected to be very efficient in sustained hover. Top speed is expected to be about 700 KPH (430 MPH).

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