BAE has unveiled its designs for a number of wildly futuristic aircraft, including 3D printed drones, self-healing aircraft, and a transformer plane — a long-range aircraft capable of dividing into smaller ones upon arrival at its destination.
This isn't the crazy ramblings of pie-in-the-sky conceptual designers. BAE Systems is the company who, under other names, designed the famous Supermarine Spitfire of WWII, the Harrier "jump jet," and the world's first vertical/short take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The London-based multinational defence firm is also partly responsible for Taranis — the cylon-like stealth drone.
BAE recently described four conceptual designs, none of which are expected to make an appearance before 2040.
- 3D printed unmanned aerial vehicles: Used for surveillance, rescue, and defence; dissolving circuit boards would render them useless should they fall into enemy territory.
- The self-healing 'Survivor': It would contain aircraft parts that can heal itself in minutes; the vehicle repairs its exterior in mid-flight using a lightweight adhesive fluid within a pattern of carbon nanotubes.
- The long-range 'Transformer': A new type of long-range aircraft capable of dividing into a number of smaller ones when it reaches its destination; BAE describes it as "a flexible aircraft system that combines smaller jets for more efficient travel, before having them split apart to quickly adapt to any scenario".
- Aircraft armed with lasers: These planes would employ directed energy systems (DES) that would engage missiles at the speed of light.
The company's amazing concept videos are something right out of a scifi film:
These technologies are still in the design stage, but BAE has invested £117 million (USD$200) across all of its R&D work.
[ Guardian ]