The British Military Is Designing a Real Life 'Transformer' Plane

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.

  1. 3D printed unmanned aerial vehicles: Used for surveillance, rescue, and defence; dissolving circuit boards would render them useless should they fall into enemy territory.
  2. 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.
  3. 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".
  4. 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 ]