Op-ed

Thought Science Fiction is Not Around the Corner? Well Think Again. The Pentagon Will Prove you Wrong

droneAre you an engineer? Are you a great thinker? Well, your time has arrived. The Defense Department wants to know if you have an idea on how to make flying aircraft carrier. If you didn’t know, competitions are known to inspire great humankind’s achievements. A US based non-profit organization Prize X believed in that, and it has inspired several industries. Its $10 million prize has inspired airspace of hundreds of billions of dollars. This time around, the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency has a request out for ideas on how to develop an airborne platform that could both launch and recover other aircraft.

But before you start looking for schematics of the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701) or Battlestar Galactica, or how you might levitate the USS Nimitz, think a little smaller, like B-1, B-52 or C-130.

DARPA wants ideas on how to turn those aircraft currently in the Pentagon inventory into platforms that could carry Unmanned Aerial Systems, what most folks call drones, close to their targets. The drones could then go about their business — bombing, missile strikes, reconnaissance, etc. — then fly back to the mother ship and head for home.

This plan could add to the range of the drones and open up new missions they cannot now undertake because of their limited range, DARPA says.

As you consider your ideas, DARPA says you have to keep the cost low and they’d like something they could demonstrate within four years. And don’t get long-winded. Your proposal should fit on eight, standard 8.5- x 11-inch pages in 11-point type.

And if you’re worried your big plans will fall into the hands of your competitors, don’t. DARPA promises all ideas will stay inside the Pentagon.

The deadline is November 26. Now get to work.

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