BAE Systems has thrown a few wild ideas out there today, revealing what it thinks, hopes or possibly just imagines cutting-edge military aeroplanes may be like in the year 2040.

One of BAE's bizarre imagination exercises is an on-board 3D printer knocks out a quick UAV to deploy for investigation purposes. Possibly even odder is The Transformer concept, a plane made from several smaller "sub-aircraft" that can travel as one, then decouple its components when it comes under threat.

The problem is it takes at least 20 years to design and build a new form of aeroplane these days, so if any of this fantasy plane-of-the-future stuff is to happen, it needs to be realistically achievable within the next five or six years to hit the 2040 deadline. Still, we can dream. [YouTube]


Airplanes of the Future: Mid-Air 3D Printing, Real-Life Transformers

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