Photo: NASA/Tom Landis
Some of the most fantastic military innovations come from places that most people have never heard of.DARPA, along with Boeing’s underground Phantom Works unit and Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, all make it their business to cook up designs from the Pentagon’s wildest dreams.
The line between fact, fiction, and science & fantasy all bleed into one at the military’s most secret labs.
Hovering at 20,000 feet, you may find Skunk Works' eye in the sky.
With the surveillance capability of generating a picture of what's happening on the ground, troops can also ride inside the pillow-shaped airship with a load of equipment.
The massive vehicle uses an air cushion landing system. It can launch and land easily in open fields, parking lots, or even on water.
As an incredible hybrid, the Blended Wing Body was developed when NASA asked Phantom Works if they could make a totally different kind of aircraft.
The remotely piloted BWB is a cross between a subsonic aeroplane, a flying wing, and the shape of a manta ray. It also doesn't have a tail.
The unique design gets lower drag and greater lift, burning 20% less fuel than a conventional subsonic transport aircraft.
It's also 50 decibels quieter than conventional transport, so the BWB has potential to operate more freely as a multi-role, long-range, high-capacity military transport aircraft.
DARPA awarded a $89 million contract to Boeing's Phantom Works to develop the Solar Eagle. It's designed to remain the air for at least five years using solar energy and a 400-foot wing span (equivalent to a 40-story building) to maintain aerodynamic performance in stratospheric altitudes.
The unmanned drone will perform communications, intelligence, surveillance and recon missions.
It will debut in a 30-day demonstration flight to the upper atmosphere in 2014 as part of a DARPA project.
As a test bed, it will help defence researchers figure out new airborne electronic warfare techniques, as well as the possibility of unmanned aerial refueling.
The single-seat aircraft was made to explore stealth technology and designs to make aircrafts less detectable. The 'gapless' surface blend into the wings to reduce radar visibility.
Bird of Prey was named after a Star Trek spaceship.
DARPA's Iron Curtain knocks incoming projectiles out of mid-air as they approach their target.
Mounted on a vehicle's roof, the Curtain detonates incoming projectiles at the last possible moment by shooting straight down at them.
Behind the Iron Curtain is an ultra-fast computer that uses complex algorithms to track the object's flight path and fires off a countermeasure precisely at the right time.
The system knocks down RPGs at 295 meters per second and 'superbombs' that shoot armour-penetrating streams of melted metal at 4 KILOMETERS per second -- 10 times faster than rocket-propelled grenades.
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