In July 2021, the U.S. Air Force is expected to experience aerial combat between a human-piloted fighter jet and its equivalent powered by artificial intelligence. A project that risks cutting off the wings of many pilots in the future…
In the next Top Gun, the fighter plane of Tom Cruise, aka Maverick will face drones. In a few years, this fiction may well become a reality. Not sure that the best of combat pilots and their thousands of hours of experience are the weight of a virtual pilot who has stored millions of hours of training… It is in July 2021 that the U.S. Air Force intends to organize a real dogfight,in other words a swirling air combat, between a piloted fighter aircraft and another fully autonomous combat aircraft.
The project launched two years ago by the American Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is led by researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Rather than using a real combat drone,the team plans to install an autonomous system based on artificial intelligence in the pilot’s seat of an F-16. Subsequently, the center wants to evolve the AI so that it can become the ace of the aces on the F-22 or the most technologically advanced American aircraft, the F-35.
The brake is the driver
According to Steve Rogers, AFRL’s director, the artificial pilot will be able to make decisions quickly by processing huge amounts of data in real time. Another asset, unlike a human, he will not be disturbed by his physical and emotional sensations in a hostile sky. Finally, as with any current combat drone, ridding the pilot’s aircraft makes it possible to do without armour, dashboard, ejector seat, flight controls… In the end, the plane can gain a lot in weight and therefore in autonomy. It may also place itself within flight limits of the aircraft that would be physically unbearable for a pilot.
According to AFRL, these autonomous fighter jets are expected to perform missions equivalent to those flown by humans. For researchers, these aircraft could also evolve into human-guided training, in order to operate collectively. This intention is the subject of a project called Skyborg. According to JAIC, like autonomous cars,piloted fighter jets will not disappear overnight.