Future Trends

Air Force to Modify F-16s for VENOM-AFT Autonomous Flight Trials

Flight testbed

Air Force to Modify F-16s for VENOM-AFT Autonomous Flight Trials

Three F-16 Fighting Falcons will be modified as test platforms for autonomy software as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Viper Experimentation and Next-gen Operations Model-Autonomy Flying Testbed program.

The aircraft recently arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, where pilots from the 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will conduct developmental and operational testing to assess autonomous capabilities.

According to Lt. Col. Joe Gagnon, the 85th TES commander, the VENOM-AFT program uses the human-in-the-loop approach to immediately start or stop algorithms if needed, AF .mil reported.

“There will never be a time where the VENOM aircraft will solely ‘fly by itself’ without a human component,” Gagnon added.

VENOM-AFT was designed to complement the Autonomy, Data and AI Experimentation proving ground at Eglin and generate modeling, simulation and post-flight data to advance collaborative combat aircraft development. 

Data from the trials will also inform other autonomy developers to improve the performance of autonomy software and ensure the capability will make the right decisions during all flight stages.

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Tags: 40th Flight Test Squadron 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron autonomous flight Collaborative Combat Aircraft Eglin Air Force Base F-16 Future Trends Joe Gagnon VENOM-AFT