Boeing wants to broaden its business to more earthly vehicles
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
TACOMA, Wash. — Boeing is once again trying its hand at vehicles designed to operate firmly resting on the ground, not in the air.
The aerospace company this month is publicizing work its Phantom Works division has done creating a relatively lightweight Jeep-like vehicle it calls the Phantom Badger.
The vehicle is Boeing's answer to a military request for a vehicle light enough and small enough to be transported inside Boeing's CH-47 helicopter or the Bell-Boeing tilt rotor Osprey.
The Phantom Badger is about 18 inches narrower than the Army's standard vehicle, the Humvee. The Badger's weight is also half that of a standard Humvee.
The 60-inch-wide Phantom Badger is built by Boeing with ample help from North Carolina's MSI Defense Solutions, a shop whose normal line of work includes creating Nascar racers.
The Badger as currently configured is powered by a 240-horsepower multi-fuel engine that powers both of the vehicle's steerable axles. The Badger can accommodate a variety of modules on the back of the vehicle depending on the mission.
Boeing says the Badger will go 80 on the freeway but can crawl over rocks and through water nearly three feet deep.
Unlike the Humvee replacements the Pentagon is now testing, the Badger isn't heavily armored against roadside bombs.
The vehicle would expand the range of special forces troops making lightning raids on enemy positions. Those raids are now restricted to targets within walking distance of the landing zones.
The Pentagon hasn't yet said if it will buy the Badger or a vehicle like it.
Boeing hasn't found the ground-based business to be a profitable one. In the '70s Boeing's Vertol helicopter division built light rail vehicles for Boston and San Francisco that initially proved to be troublesome. Vertol later built trains for Chicago before exiting the transit business.