The US Air Force Research Laboratory has successfully tested the XQ-58A Valkyrie experimental stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle in a three-hour sortie.
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The XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrated the first flight of AFRL-developed, machine-learning trained, artificial intelligence algorithms while flying in formation with an F-15E Strike Eagle from the 96th Test Wing’s 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base.
The test shows the development and maturation of artificial intelligence capabilities with the aircraft flown under artificial intelligence agents developed by the Autonomous Air Combat Operations team from the AFRL.
“The mission proved out a multi-layer safety framework on an AI/ML-flown uncrewed aircraft and demonstrated an AI/ML agent solving a tactically relevant ‘challenge problem’ during airborne operations,” said DAF AI Test and Operations chief Colonel Tucker Hamilton.
“This sortie officially enables the ability to develop AI/ML agents that will execute modern air-to-air and air-to-surface skills that are immediately transferrable to other autonomy programs.”
The algorithms used on the XQ-58A have previously conducted millions of hours in high fidelity AFSIM simulation events, 10 sorties on the X-62 VISTA, hardware-in-the-loop events with the XQ-58A and ground test operations across four years of partnership that began with the Skyborg Vanguard and the Autonomous Aircraft Experimentation programs.
“AI will be a critical element to future warfighting and the speed at which we’re going to have to understand the operational picture and make decisions,” said AFRL commander Brigadier General Scott Cain.
“AI, autonomous operations, and human-machine teaming continue to evolve at an unprecedented pace and we need the coordinated efforts of our government, academia, and industry partners to keep pace.”