July 05, 2016

BAE Systems reveals vision of unmanned hypersonic bombers that are grown in chemical vats

Armed forces of the future could be using rapid response aircraft equipped with engines capable of propelling those aircraft to hypersonic speeds - similar to the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) which is currently being developed by Reaction Engines Limited, a small British company in which BAE Systems has invested £20.6 million.

Engineers and scientists at BAE Systems and the University of Glasgow have outlined some of their current thinking about military aircraft including the idea that military planes could soon be 'grown' in labs and reach hypersonic speeds.

During this century, the scientists and engineers envisage that small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) bespoke to specific military operations, could be 'grown' in large-scale labs through chemistry, speeding up evolutionary processes and creating bespoke aircraft in weeks, rather than years.

A radical new machine called a Chemputer™ could enable advanced chemical processes to grow aircraft and some of their complex electronic systems, conceivably from a molecular level upwards.

Flying at such speeds and high altitude would allow them to outpace adversary missiles. The aircraft could perform a variety of missions where a rapid response is needed. These include deploying emergency supplies for Special Forces inside enemy territory using a sophisticated release system and deploying small surveillance aircraft.

“The world of military and civil aircraft is constantly evolving and it's been exciting to work with scientists and engineers outside BAE Systems and to consider how some unique British technologies could tackle the military threats of the future” said Professor Nick Colosimo, a BAE Systems Global Engineering Fellow.

Regius Professor Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow, and Founding Scientific Director at Cronin Group PLC – who is developing the Chemputer™ added; ‘This is a very exciting time in the development of chemistry. We have been developing routes to digitize synthetic and materials chemistry and at some point in the future hope to assemble complex objects in a machine from the bottom up, or with minimal human assistance. Creating small aircraft would be very challenging but I’m confident that creative thinking and convergent digital technologies will eventually lead to the digital programming of complex chemical and material systems.’

SOURCES - BAE Systems, Youtube

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