As part of its Concept Vision initiative inaugurated in 2010, Europe’s missile house MBDA used the Paris Air Show to showcase the result of its young engineers’ latest brainstorming session – the Flexis. The whole idea behind the general design is to offer a base station (an aircraft carrier for example) the ability to assemble à la carte missiles according to the precise need of the moment. By loading various modules (warheads, motors, sensors and so forth) on a “common chassis”, the method obviously reduces the number of different dedicated missiles that are normally need to be stockpiled to fulfil specific missions in terms of ranges, target nature and launch platforms to name but a few parameters. Another advantage of this build-as-you-need approach is that all the non-assembled modules are de facto available for replacement as upgrades appear, negating the need to ship fully constructed missiles back to manufacturing ranch for that purpose.
Other clever ideas include inductive (and therefore contact-free) connections which are all effected to the main chassis’ central databus that also (and of course) handles the automatic health and usage monitoring subsystem aspects. Naturally, hand-picking elements off the components’ shelf to drop them straight into the common chassis is out of the question. This is done by keying the requirements to a robot that will then execute the job in a faster manner and deliver a fully checked and operational weapon (the robot also “knows” how to toy with ballast modules to maintain the centre of gravity of the weapon on its chequered dot). The robotic approach also provides a permanent stock management facility and thereby acts as useful obsolescent parts exchange monitoring tool.