The United States Air Force has taken an important step towards the future with AI warplanes.
Project Skyborg is the US Air Force’s Vanguard program to develop unmanned combat aircraft designed to escort manned fighters.
The Air Force’s new Skyborg Autonomy Core System (ACS) flew over Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in an unmanned drone, proving that AI can adhere to basic flight commands. The system will eventually lead to Skyborg-based high-speed unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with sensors, weapons and other payloads to carry out dangerous missions instead of manned fighters.
The Air Force developed Skyborg in two flavors: an AI system on a fighter jet with a crew as an assistant pilot and an AI capable of flying an unmanned jet aircraft. The concept, known as the Loyal Wingman, involves combining one manned jet with one or more unmanned jet aircraft to complete a mission.
During its first test launch, the Skyborg kit flew aboard the Kratos UTAP-22 Mako aircraft. The test flight itself at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida took 130 minutes.
During the flight, the aircraft responded to navigation commands, remained in the established “geofences”, adhered to the flight range and “demonstrated coordinated maneuvering.” In the next test series, Skyborg will fly “drones with multiple air traffic control systems.”
According to the Fighters and Advanced Aircraft program, the new UAV will be the brain of all future Skyborg technology. It is planned that the new product will strengthen the general confidence in unmanned aerial vehicles.
The main task of the Skyborg drone remains the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of making quick combat decisions at the speed of a computer, and, ideally, saving the lives of soldiers during combat.