Apr 1, 2008

LEGO and United States Air Force

Well, apparently the United States Air Force has been talking with LEGO about creating custom parts that can be used for prototyping new planes and vehicles. This isn't new, as LEGO has been used by other companies as a prototyping tool, but the difference here is that LEGO would be asked to create some fairly large pieces - think about wings and landing gear and such.

While I don't think we're going to see a USAF/LEGO hybrid jet (it probably wouldn't pass safety standards for crash tests) I think we're seeing a hint of things to come here. LEGO has long been looking at expanding its product line and a partnership with the USAF could be very useful to those of us who enjoy LEGO robotics.

According to the Air Force Press Release, a prototype training jet is already under construction and is scheduled to be rolled out in late 2009. One of the most shocking pieces of data about the jet will be its weight - the F-16 fighter jet weighs approximately 15,600 pounds. The LEGO training jet will come in just under 2,240 pounds. This will greatly increase the speed of the training vehicle and reduce fuel consumption, a nice benefit in this day of high fuel costs.

What does this mean to the consumer? Well, we all know that military applications tend to roll down hill after a few years (or decades) so I don't think it will be long before we see the first commercial applications and regular citizens are able to purchase LEGO airplanes for weekend entertainment.

What do you think? Would you buy one?

3 comments:

peter hoh said...

Where am I going to park it? I'm going to hold out for a flying car.

From what I hear, Dean Kamen is working on it.

Dave Parker said...

This is a promising idea. Given the need to phase out aluminum and other metals in airplanes for better stealth, plastics and composites are the way of the future. ABS plastic can compete with many of the exotic composites out there at a much lower cost, and LEGO's super accurate production tollerances are a good fit for military work. Let's just hope that the bad guys use MegaBlocks!

TooMuchCaffeine said...

I think this sounds really interesting. I read an interview with someone from McDonnell Douglas in Jane's recently and they were saying that they had been really interested in some of the new "studs not on top" techniques they'd seen being used by Lego builders.

A Lego fighter jet would be an excellent way of causing mischief under people's radar - always a fine objective these days (or this day in particular).

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