PARIS — Any enthusiast will tell you that nothing quite stirs the imagination at a big international car show like the concept cars unveiled by some of the world's top manufacturers .
It may never see the light of day again, but it's a chance to dream about where design and technology may take the industry in the future.
It's an idea that European missile maker MBDA has tapped into annually for the last six years in a scheme they called Concept Visions.
Like the car industry, some of the earlier ideas like the Enforcer shoulder-launched missile from 2010 are already well on the way to becoming production-ready weapons.
The missiles-on-demand scheme, known as Flexis, revolves around a fully modular missile featuring technologies like contactless interfaces, common bus architecture and a common composite chassis.
The completely automated system would see keys mission-specific parts of the weapon effectively mixed and matched from a range of building blocks depending on the threat.
The operator effectively configures the weapon at the point of use, bringing a flexible effects-on-demand to the battlespace.
The 2015 team used an aircraft carrier as its assembly plant at sea but Ed Dodwell, the team leader, said the system could work equally well on smaller support ships or on forward army bases and airfields.
The scheme takes up relatively little space and it might even be possible to use an aircraft as an assembly site, although that would be the most technically challenging according to the Concepts Vision 2015 team.
"The challenge can be exemplified by carrier strike where there is a need to respond quickly to emerging conflicts and deliver effects within the constraints of the equipment held on board. This presents the challenge of having the right weapons in the right quantities to combat a growing variety of future scenarios that will not grow," said Dodwell.