London, Oct 23 : The US military has launched a competition to find a design for a flying submarine, a week before the release of the latest James Bond film.
Bond drove a submersible Lotus Esprit in "The Spy Who Loved Me" and villain Scaramanga drove a flying AMC Matador coupe in "The Man With The Golden Gun" but the US group is looking for a vehicle that can do both, The Telegraph reported.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), based in Arlington, Virginia, wants a flying submarine to help small teams of Special Forces to approach coastlines undetected.
The agency said that it wants the craft in order to "maintain its tactical advantage for future coastal insertion missions".
DARPA, which was set up in 1958 as a response to the surprise launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik and is credited with the invention of the Internet, intends to spend billions developing the most promising design.
"DARPA has a budget of 3billion dollar," said spokeswoman Jan Walker.
"We issue these requests for submissions on a regular basis and we welcome ideas from anybody. We have regular large and small firms who we work with but we are open to submissions from anywhere," Walker added.
The competition specifies that the flying sub must be able to transport eight men and their equipment 1,150 miles (1,850km) by air, 115m (185km) by sea or 14m (22km) underwater - or a combination of the three - in less than eight hours, and then wait for up to three days to pick them up again.
Walker admitted that previous research in this field had included failed designs to make a submarine fly: "Prior attempts to demonstrate a vehicle with the manoeuvrability of both a submersible and an aircraft have primarily explored approaches that would endow slight capability to platforms that were largely optimised for underwater operations."
She added: "These attempts have been unsuccessful." The deadline for submitting entries is December 1.