WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – While they may not be as impressive as the Helicarriers used by S.H.E.I.L.D. in Marvel’s Avengers movies, the Pentagon is considering flying aircraft carriers that could launch and retrieve military drones.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is asking for ideas on how cargo planes, like the massive C-130s that carry troops and cargo, can be modified to serve as flying bases for unmanned aerial vehicles, reports Live Science.

“We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become “aircraft carriers in the sky,” explained DARPA program manager Dan Patt.

The idea is to extend the range of drone aircraft by flying them near the target area, then launching them to complete their missions, and finally recovering the drones.

“We envision innovative launch and recovery concepts for new [drone] designs that would couple with recent advances in small payload design and collaborative technologies.”

DARPA hopes to have flight-ready prototypes ready in four years.

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