AI based fighter pilots – now for real

AI based fighter pilots – now for real

Back in 2016, I wrote about how a grad student created a fighter pilot AI that was able to defeat a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene “Geno” Lee. It was so good that it didn’t do it just once. It shot him down every time.

Fast forward just 8 years and now there is the real thing.

The US military has tested an AI-controlled F16 named X-62A in a dogfight with an actual test pilot. The Variable Stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, or “VISTA” for short, is essentially a modified F16 fighter jet controlled by AI that has previously conducted multiple test flights to demonstrate the capabilities of its artificial pilot (via The Telegraph).

In a press release, the USAF Test Pilot School and DARPA revealed that they initially tested various defensive maneuvers with the AI controlled jet to establish initial in-flight safety, before engaging in air-to-air simulated combat with another F16 in the skies above Edwards air force base in California last year.

It’s not clear if the tested dogfights were limited purely to aerial combat maneuvers with simulated weapons fire or how it did against live pilots. However, a previous AI developed by Heron Systems as part of a DARPA tournament was able to defeat a human pilot in five out of five tested scenarios.


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