Lockheed Martin’s AI-Piloted Military Jet Intercepts Enemy Fighter

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Aircraft manufacturer Skunk Works (under Lockheed Martin) collaborated with the University of Iowa to demonstrate the use of AI in air-to-air intercept scenarios.

The AI system successfully intercepted enemy fighters in a combat test in which it controlled a flying jet through a series of tactical exercises, controlling its route, speed, and altitude.

According to Interesting Engineering, each flight reportedly included eight test cases to test the AI pilot in different scenarios, such as standard head-to-head fights, missile support, and missile defeat situations. Lockheed Martin reports that the team was pleased to observe a “smooth transition of learned behaviors” from simulation to the real world and noticed that the AI agent acted “purposefully and decisively.”

Dr. Tom “Mach” Schnell, OPL professor at Iowa Technology Institute, stated: “This was the first live exercise of the new flight interface; it’s thrilling to see the separate components successfully integrate on the L-29 to demonstrate new capabilities. The complete system performed even better in live flight than in simulation.”

These ongoing flight tests are part of a larger effort to quickly develop and evaluate AI-driven autonomy for air-to-air missions with additional flight tests scheduled for this year, while Lockheed Martin emphasized that future tests would incorporate more aircraft into offensive counter-air and battle management scenarios and increase the complexity.

The company offers AI and machine learning solutions that enhance human performance by processing, combining, and analyzing large volumes of data to provide its customers with actionable intelligence and a strategic edge. It consistently enhances AI mission performance in operationally realistic simulated environments while ensuring widespread compatibility and swift transition with future platforms.

They are aligned with and closely adhere to the ethical and safe use of autonomous systems according to the guidelines of the US Department of Defense, explaining that humans play a vital role and will continue to have the final decision-making authority in Lockheed Martin’s AI and machine learning systems.