AFRL Demonstrates XQ-58A Valkyrie Unmanned Jet Aircraft piloted by AI

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) conducted the first-ever flight of artificial intelligence agents (algorithms) controlling an uncrewed jet aircraft – the XQ-58A Valkyrie on July 25.

Test units executed the flight in the Eglin Test and Training Complex. The flight was the culmination of the previous two years of partnership that began with the Skyborg Vanguard program.

“The mission proved out a multi-layer safety framework on an AI/ML-flown uncrewed aircraft and demonstrated an AI/ML agent solving a tactically relevant ‘challenge problem’ during airborne operations,” said Col. Tucker Hamilton, chief, AI Test and Operations, for the Department of the Air Force. “This sortie officially enables the ability to develop AI/ML agents that will execute modern air-to-air and air-to-surface skills that are immediately transferrable to the CCA program.”

The algorithms were developed by AFRL’s Autonomous Air Combat Operations team. The algorithms matured during millions of hours in high fidelity simulation events, sorties on the X-62 VISTA, Hardware-in-the-Loop events with the XQ-58A, and ground test operations, as depicted in the video at the link below.

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