Soon, artificial intelligence could “retire” pilots from military aviation, converting fighter jets into unbeatable instruments in “straight” combat with a human adversary.
The US military has successfully tested the use of artificial intelligence for the purpose of flying a fighter jet. The experiment, which simulated including combat with enemy aircraft, marked a significant step for the Department of Defense (DARPA) in developing advanced artificial intelligence capabilities.
Two different AI programs, deployed with a supervising pilot ready to intervene in unforeseen situations, flew the X-62A variable flight stability simulator test aircraft, or VISTA, during 12 tests, which were conducted in December at Edwards Air Force Base in the U.S. state of California.
#AI successfully pilots fighter jet ✈️
.#ICYMI @deptofdefense artificial intelligence agents successfully fly a fighter jet making AI history! Using an X-62A VISTA, this was a combined team effort from @afresearchlab, @lockheedmartin, @darpa and @EdwardsAFB.
– Edwards Air Force Base (@EdwardsAFB) February 15, 2023
Specifically, the VISTA prototype is a heavily modified F16 aircraft so that it can be controlled solely by AI, with or without a pilot on board. So far the system has been tested against imaginary enemies, simulated both outside the combat range and in the aircraft’s danger zone.
Although the conclusions of the experiment are not being made public, the mere confirmation of the successfully completed experiment shows that the US military is confident in using artificial intelligence technologies to gain a decisive advantage in real combat situations.
“This is the first time an aircraft of any type has been able to test two completely different algorithms from two specific programs on the same day – much less within a few hours.”