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Air Force Sees Promise in AI Fighter Pilots After Dogfighting Trials

Aerial combat

Air Force Sees Promise in AI Fighter Pilots After Dogfighting Trials

The Air Force is getting promising results in integrating artificial intelligence into its fighter jets, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

Kendall, a past Potomac Officers Club event speaker and a 2024 Wash100 awardee, recently participated in a test as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Air Combat Evolution program, dedicated to exploring the application of AI and machine learning in aerial warfare, DefenseScoop reported.

The test employed a specially modified F-16, the X-62A Variable In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, to test and refine machine learning algorithms in combat scenarios. According to Kendall, the AI-powered jet performed at par with an experienced human pilot in simulated close-range dogfights.

The Air Force is also developing AI-enabled drones called collaborative combat aircraft. The service has already tapped defense companies Anduril and General Atomics to design, manufacture and flight-test the next-generation drones, which are expected to excel at longer-range engagements.

While the technologies are still under development, Kendall expressed optimism about AI and machine learning’s future potential in aerial combat, citing advantages in areas like endurance and data processing speed.

Additionally, Kendall said the Air Force is committed to the responsible development of AI for its systems.

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