Did you read a Marvel Comic, or see The Avengers, and upon glancing at the S.H.I.E.L.D. flying fortress known as a helicarrier think to yourself, “I have got to get me one of these!” Well so did some people at the Pentagon. The notion of a helicarrier is nothing new, after all it combines all the mobile command awesomeness of an aircraft carrier without that icky possibility of getting splashback from the world’s oceans. It’s the best of both worlds! It’s worth noting that this comes from the government themselves, and not one of those silly Change.org petitions like the one that wants the government to dump trillions into building a Death Star. Nope, the government wants helicarriers legit, and they`re currently accepting proposals on how to get the job done.
And by “legit,” we mean the website for DARPA. DARPA stands for The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and amongst its declassified accomplishments is the creation of ARPANET, the initial precursor to the internet, and “Onion Routing,” a way for people to communicate annonymously on the computer. Next on DARPA’s to-do list though is to find a way for “larger aircraft [to] carry, launch and recover multiple small UAS [unmanned aircraft systems]” for “Military air operations [that] typically rely on large, manned, robust aircraft,” which might, potentially, put military personel at risk. Solution: helicarrier.
“We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become ‘aircraft carriers in the sky’,” said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager on the DARPA website. “We envision innovative launch and recovery concepts for new UAS designs that would couple with recent advances in small payload design and collaborative technologies.”
To that effect, DARPA has launched what’s called an RFI, or Request For Information, in which companies are free to submit proposals and ideas as to how a given project can be accomplished. It’s worth pointing out though that DARPA is sounding like they’re not looking for helicarriers akin to the ones used by S.H.I.E.L.D., but are rather looking for something considerably smaller. The website also makes reference to re-using or re-purposing current military aircraft for the job, which would rule out welding giant propellers to the side of the U.S.S. Enterprise or one of its companion carriers.
Before you get too terribly disappointed though, keep in mind that the possibility of airplanes wasn’t 100 per cent accomplished out of the box. The Wright Brothers could no more build a passenger plane then they could a rocket ship, but their simple aircraft ended up leading to one, and then later the other. So today’s small helicarrier meant to ferry drones into dangerous airspace maybe one small step to giant invisible flying bases from which the government could launch a defensive mission to stop an alien invasion of the Earth, or wipe out all enemies to the facist organization that has secret taken it over. Either way, good times.
If you have a smart idea about how to make helicarriers a reality, you can send an e-mail to DARPA at DARPA-SNfirstname.lastname@example.org until 4 pm EST on November 26.
Source: Comic Book.com