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.

This year, a team of the company's young engineers and managers drawn from across five European countries were challenged to come up with concepts and technologies that might be available in the 2035 timeframe to give warfighters a way to assemble missiles in the field from a suite of components designed to meet specific threats.

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 team, who unveiled their concept at the Paris Air show June 15, used three different sizes of missile to demonstrate the idea, ranging from a 1.8 m long anti-tank missile up to a 3m long air-to-air missile.

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.

Dodwell said he reckoned it would take just tens of minutes to assemble and deliver the weapons onboard a carrier once the threat had been was identified and a decision taken of what type of missile to respond with.

"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.

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