Air Force making gains in artificial intelligence with AI-piloted F-16 flight


Category:  Health, Science & Technology

Via:  gregtx  •  3 weeks ago  •  7 comments

By:   Brady Knox

Air Force making gains in artificial intelligence with AI-piloted F-16 flight
The Air Force successfully gamed a dogfight between a normal F-16 and AI-controlled F-16, with the head of the Air Force riding in the front seat.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The U.S. Air Force gamed a dogfight between a human-driven F-16 fighter jet and an artificial intelligence-controlled F-16 — with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall riding in the front seat.

The Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft, or VISTA, X-62A, previously broke a record in February 2023, when it flew for 17 hours straight — entirely powered by AI. Cementing its reliability, the aircraft not only simulated a dogfight with a friendly pilot but performed the feat with the Air Force's most valuable member in the cockpit. The performance is being hailed as a breakthrough in aviation history.

"The potential for autonomous air-to-air combat has been imaginable for decades, but the reality has remained a distant dream up until now. In 2023, the X-62A broke one of the most significant barriers in combat aviation. This is a transformational moment, all made possible by breakthrough accomplishments of the ACE team," Kendall said.


VISTA came within 1,000 feet of the human-piloted aircraft, performing sharp maneuvers at over 550 miles per hour. Kendall and the safety pilot didn't touch the controls the entire flight.

After landing, Kendall stressed the importance of leaning into the technology, telling the Associated Press that it was "a security risk not to have it."

According to Politico, AI-controlled aircraft is the biggest breakthrough in aviation since the introduction of stealth technology in the 1990s. The Air Force plans to operate 1,000 AI-controlled aircraft, with the first entering service in 2028, especially as the possibility of war with China grows.

The flight occurred at Edwards Air Force Base, the place where Chuck Yeager made aviation history by being the first pilot to break the sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947.

VISTA is a modified F-16D Block 30 Peace Marble II designed for the U.S. Air Force by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, working with in collaboration with Calspan Corporation. New upgrades have allowed it to develop rapidly.

"VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs," Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, director of research at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, said last year. "This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter."


jrDiscussion - desc
PhD Guide
1  seeder  GregTx    3 weeks ago

I wonder if this technology is also being incorporated into the B-21 Raider?

Professor Principal
2  TᵢG    3 weeks ago

AI is a megatrend.   It will affect everything and it is changing the world (mostly for the better but it will bring some very ugly consequences as well).

Professor Quiet
2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  TᵢG @2    3 weeks ago

Biggest concern for many is where the off button is.

Professor Principal
2.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.1    3 weeks ago

I can see that.   This is a disruptive technology.   It forces changes in many dimensions.   And since it is all magic to most people, I fully appreciate why someone would be skeptical if not fearful of the application of AI.

My concern is not the silly science fiction notion of AI taking over the world but rather the intentional abuse of a very powerful technology.   And we all know it will be abused.

Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
2.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  TᵢG @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

Six weeks ago, the Army awarded $180 million, two year contract to Palantir as the prime for the next phase of its Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN).  Palantir is expected to deliver five basic and five advanced prototypes for Army experimentation.

TITAN means to fuse data from space-, air- and terrestrial-based sensors, and integrate systems and kinetic technologies from multiple systems across the battle space.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities will help process that information and provide “real-time actionable intelligence.”

PhD Guide
2.1.3  seeder  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @2.1.1    3 weeks ago
My concern is not the silly science fiction notion of AI taking over the world but rather the intentional abuse of a very powerful technology. And we all know it will be abused.

Absolutely. It is already being abused. One of my concerns is how it will affect the decision making of those in charge.

Professor Expert
3  Gordy327    3 weeks ago

This is how Skynet started. 😉


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