The US Air Force has been experimenting with AI applications and whether it can fly entire missions all on its own. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing an AI that will be able to combat real US Air Force pilots in an air to air dogfight test planned for 2021.
The AFRL has been working on an autonomous fighter jet since 2018. Initially, the machine learning technology will be implemented on less advanced jets such as the F16 before progressing to newer iterations including the F22 or F35.
Since this is a military project, the details on the technology and the test itself are scarce and even some basic details are kept classified. However, Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, head of the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center said in an interview that the research team is confident that the AI jet will beat the human plane. Which is a scary prospect.
He added that even the best human pilots have thousands of hours in training but with their AI advancements, they might be able to create a virtual pilot with millions of hours in training. This AI could be able to replicate a human pilot’s decision making in the cockpit.
As for whether this fighter jet AI would be given sole control over weapons, the Air Force did not say anything.