PUBLISHED: 23:07 EST, 4 June 2012 | UPDATED: 23:14 EST, 4 June 2012
A new Boeing unmanned drone that is designed to stay airborne for days has completed its first autonomous flight at Edwards Air Force Base, despite a rocky landing.
Boeing said Monday that the 28-minute flight of the Phantom Eye began at 6:22 a.m. Friday and the aircraft reached an altitude of 4,080 feet and a cruising speed of 62 knots before landing at the California desert base.
Boeing says after touching down, the drone was damaged when the landing gear dug into a lakebed and broke.
The drone is powered by liquid-hydrogen and the company says it can go up to four days in the air without refueling.
Boeing Phantom Works President Darryl Davis hailed the flight as the beginning of ‘a new era’ of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Phantom Eye has a 150-foot wingspan and will be able to carry a 450 pound payload.
The drone has no armament and has been built for ‘persistent intelligence and surveillance’ rather than combat, Boeing states.
The announcement came the same day as a CIA drone strike in Pakistan targeted al-Qaeda’s second in command, Abu Yahia al-Libi, but it was unclear whether he was among those hit.
U.S. officials said they did not know yet whether al-Libi was among those killed, but said they were ‘optimistic.’
Drone attacks on Pakistan entered their third consecutive day, with rockets killing 15 people in northwest Pakistan on Monday afternoon.
The strike targeted a militant hideout in the Hesokhel village of the North Waziristan tribal region, officials said.
It brought the death toll from drone attacks in Pakistan in the past three days to 27.
Pakistani protesters took to the streets, shouting anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in the city of Multan on Monday.
They burnt both U.S. and Nato flags as they chanted and their hand-drawn signs had slogans stating ‘America and Nato are war terrorists.’