Modern military aircrafts are so ridiculously complex that fighter jets such as the F-35 Lightning II take 20 years to go from paper to deployment, at an unbelievable cost.
With design work already underway for the next generation of fighters for 2040, BAE Systems and the University of Glasgow are looking at a new, cheaper way of producing UAVs where they aren’t built, but grown in computer-controlled chemical vats in a matter of weeks!
This concept was outlined ahead of the upcoming Farnborough International Airshow, which runs from the 11th-17th July. Not only has the concept been designed to cut costs and the long development of military hardware, but it also reflects the emphasis of smaller drone aircrafts which are built with custom specifications for specific missions, to be used over manned aircrafts.
The use of these “bespoke” UAVs would require drastically shorter development and manufacturing cycles, which was the inspiration behind BAE’s vision of growing them in giant chemical vats, creating a near complete frame and electrical systems.
The key to all of this is what’s known as the “Chemputer” – a combination of computer and chemical manufacturing. It is sort of an advanced 3D printer that works on a molecular level. Originally developed by Regius Professor Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow, and Founding Scientific Director at Cronin Group PLC, its original purpose was to use chemicals to produce pharmaceuticals quickly and cheaply.
Whether or not this process will be successful in building the aircrafts is yet to be seen, and if it is, what other applications could it be used for…? Custom grown airsoft guns anyone?