The Department of Defense wants to build a flying aircraft carrier, but they seem to be having trouble getting the idea off the ground. The Defense Advanced Research Products Agency, a branch of the Pentagon, is now crowd-sourcing thinkers and engineers from the private sector to help them build the flying war machine.
According to a press release published by DARPA earlier this week:
DARPA is interested in exploring the feasibility of small UAS airborne launch and recovery approaches for providing distributed airborne capabilities from existing air platforms. The agency envisions a large aircraft that, with minimal modification, could launch and recover multiple small unmanned systems from a standoff distance. It is postulated that there is a useful trade space in terms of launch platforms; recovery platforms; recovery techniques; the number of UAS employed; the size (and cost) of the UAS; UAS speed, range, and endurance; UAS propulsion; UAS survivability; payload types; and operational concepts.
This RFI seeks information on concept feasibility, unique and enabling platform technologies, system architectures, concepts of operation, modeling and simulation, potential demonstration platforms and approaches, and reusable low-cost delivery vehicle (UAS) platform concepts. DARPA is primarily interested in platform-related technologies and concepts. This RFI also seeks rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost and schedule information to assist in planning a potential future DARPA program in this area.
It seems likely that this type of vehicle will be primarily used to fuel and service drones, since their travel capabilities are still limited. This would work in much the same way that ocean-based aircraft carriers service and fuel airplanes on missions in nearby areas.
If completed, this vehicle would make drones even more destructive than they already are, allowing the US government to deploy drones pretty much anywhere.
DARPA is requesting ideas that can be used and implemented within the next four years, and they have set a deadline of November 26th for all suggestions to be turned in.
By: John Vibes/Creative commons