Home U.S. Air Force says it has planes with AI capable of dogfighting

U.S. Air Force says it has planes with AI capable of dogfighting

In partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US Air Force has announced a significant breakthrough in achieving its first artificial intelligence (AI) dogfight. 

Project teams from the Air Force Test Pilot School and DARPA collaborated to great effect, testing AI algorithms using the X-62A VISTA aircraft. 

DARPA is an organization within the US Department of Defense whose many oversights include aircraft design. Over the last four years, it has been focused on developing its Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program to match up human pilots with AI-powered machine learning systems.

In less than a year, ACE evolved from the initial use of AI in the systems of the X-62A to delivering the first AI versus human within-visual-range engagements – also known as a dogfight.

Frank Kendall, the U.S. secretary of the Air Force, lauded the transformational breakthrough, stating “the potential for autonomous air-to-air combat has been imaginable for decades, but the reality has remained a distant dream up until now.”

Use of artificial intelligence in present conflict zones

An important marker for the project was that AI made no meaningful violations or malfunctions, resulting in the tests performing as safely as with a human pilot in control.

DARPA welcomed the dogfight success as “a fundamental paradigm shift,” with the achievement set to act as a catalyst to propel AI aerospace advances in the future, but the Chinese have already recorded this feat,  in March, last year.

AI technology is known to be in use in various conflict situations at present, with the war in Ukraine referenced as an incubator for the use of AI in combat. Both sides, including Russia, have deployed algorithms for use in autonomous navigation, target ID and engagement, and intelligence processing to devastating effect. 

Also, in the current Middle East conflict, Israel is said to have utilized its ‘Lavender’ AI system to identify around 37,000 potential targets due to their apparent links to Hamas.

From a military combat perspective, despite ethical concerns and the need to maximise safeguards, AI is here and here to stay.

Image credit: Edwards Air Force Base

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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