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The United States Air Force announced last week the successful test flight of its first-ever unmanned artificial intelligence-piloted jet.
In a press release published on Thursday, the Air Force Research Laboratory stated that the three-hour test flight of the XQ-58A Valkyrie was a success. After two years of work, the flight occurred in late July at the Eglin Test and Training Complex in Florida.
The XQ-58A Valkyrie, developed by the AFRL, is “machine-learning trained” and operates using AI algorithms that “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.”
The AFRL’s Autonomous Air Combat Operations Program Manager, Dr. Terry Wilson, explained that loop testing, computing, and simulation were used to successfully train the AI agent to safely operate the aircraft.
Air Force AI Test and Operations Chief Col. Tucker Hamilton stated, “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.”
“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 other autonomy programs,” Hamilton added.
The successful test flight moves the Department of Defense another step closer to developing collaborative combat aircraft systems, an Air Force spokesperson explained to Fox News Digital. CCAs will utilize machine learning and AI to help pilots make faster combat decisions, the outlet reported.
The Air Force requested $5.8 billion through fiscal year 2028 for its CCA program, which it plans to use to create AI-powered wingmen to pilot fighter jets.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall previously stated that he plans to use 1,000 CCAs that “will complement and enhance the performance of our crewed fighter force structure.”
Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, AFRL commander, described AI technology as a “critical element to future warfighting and the speed at which we’re going to have to understand the operational picture and make decisions.”
“AI, Autonomous Operations, and Human-Machine Teaming continue to evolve at an unprecedented pace and we need the coordinated efforts of our government, academia and industry partners to keep pace,” Cain said.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.