I had no idea that this had progressed this far already:
Boeing’s Phantom Works designed the X-48B flight test vehicles in cooperation with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to gather detailed information about the stability and flight-control characteristics of the blended wing body design, especially during takeoffs and landings.
The Boeing blended wing body design resembles a flying wing, but differs in that the wing blends smoothly into a wide, flat, tailless fuselage. This fuselage blending provides additional lift with less drag compared to a circular fuselage, translating to reduced fuel use at cruise conditions. Since the engines mount high on the back of the aircraft, there is less noise inside and on the ground when it is in flight.
Three turbojet engines enable the composite-skinned, 8.5 percent scale vehicle to fly up to 10,000 feet and 120 knots in its low-speed configuration. The aircraft is flown remotely from a ground control station in which the pilot uses conventional aircraft controls and instrumentation while looking at a monitor fed by a forward-looking camera on the aircraft.
Up to 25 flights are planned to gather data in these low-speed flight regimes. Then the X-48B may be used to test the aircraft’s low-noise and handling characteristics at transonic speeds.
Blended wing body aircraft offer the potential for greater internal capacity, increased efficiency, and general coolness. Some had thought that the next mid-air refuelling tanker aircraft should have been a blended wing body.
More, including another picture, below…
From Air Force Times, which includes
“The blended-wing body concept holds tremendous promise for the future of military aviation as a multipurpose military platform in 15 to 20 years,” said Darryl Davis, Boeing’s general manager of advanced precision engagement and mobility systems. “Its unique design attributes will result in less fuel burn and a greatly reduced noise footprint, which are important capabilities to offer our Air Force and mobility customers.”
Two X-48Bs were built. The first one was used for wind tunnel and static testing and will serve as a back-up to Ship 2.