The recent announcement by DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — has resulted in a little cascade of nerdgasms shivering across the internet, particularly by those who are just a little too into The Avengers because of the movie’s ginormous flying-ship-helicopter-base-carrier thing.
While the DARPA plans will have only the barest superficial resemblance to that violently improbable Hollywood vehicle, it’s not all war porn and bullshit either. The concept gives us a peek into the Air Force’s psyche.
The plan is create a big plane, like a bomber or transport — they specifically mention the B-52, B-1, and C-130 — to carry, launch, and recover much tinier drones with payloads of up to 100 pounds. The drones are an important part of the story: If it weren’t for them, DARPA wouldn’t be asking, and this would generate less buzz.