AFRL Demonstrates AI-piloted XQ-58A Valkyrie Uncrewed Jet Aircraft

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  • 10:16 AM, August 3, 2023
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AFRL Demonstrates AI-piloted XQ-58A Valkyrie Uncrewed Jet Aircraft
F-15E Strike Eagle flies in formation with an XQ-58A Valkyrie flown by artificial intelligence agents @U.S.A.F.

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.

“AACO has taken a multi-pronged approach to uncrewed flight testing of machine learning Artificial Intelligence and has met operational experimentation objectives by using a combination of High-performance computing, modeling and simulation, and hardware in the loop testing to train an AI agent to safely fly the XQ-58 uncrewed aircraft,” said AACO Program Manager, Dr. Terry Wilson.

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