Videos: Behold, the new ‘Transformer’ military jet — and other future wonders

July 10, 2014

BAE Systems has released a new video that highlights several of its developmental programs, including a “Transformer” aircraft. (YouTube screen grab)

Picture this: a single large, soaring jet is roaring over the countryside, heading into an uncertain situation in which targets must be bombed, supplies must be dropped and reconnaissance photographs must also be gathered. How does it happen quickly?

If the defense contractor BAE Systems has its way, it sends in a single “Transformer” jet that splits apart in the air, and then merges back together when the work is done. Check out this new video, released July 6:

That’s only one of the new, futuristic concepts that BAE Systems is promoting ahead of the massive Farnborough International Air Show in Great Britain, which begins July 19. The company also released video of a conceptual aircraft it calls “The Survivor,” which BAE officials say will use lightweight adhesive fluid inside a network of nanotubes to “heal” an aircraft mid-flight. The video shows a plane’s wing bursting into flames, and then patching itself up:

In another new video, the company promotes the possibilities of 3-D printing, which it says will be able to design drone aircraft that can be suited for the mission at hand. In this case, one is rescuing a man while a volcano erupts nearby:

And finally, there’s a new video of a notional aircraft outfitted with a directed-energy weapon capable of taking out an enemy missile in flight over a city:

These concepts aren’t all new. The Navy, for example, has been interested in using directed-energy weapons for years, and plans to deploy one for the first time on a ship this summer. Still, videos like these always jump-start the imagination. We’ll be watching for more of them that companies release as the air show nears.

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
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Dan Lamothe · July 10, 2014