US Air Force confirms AI jet vs human pilot dogfight a success

US Air Force confirms AI jet vs human pilot dogfight a success

/ 04:13 PM April 19, 2024

What would you get if you mix artificial intelligence with a fighter jet? Most would probably imagine something like the 2006 film, “Stealth.”

It stars Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, and Jamie Foxx as pilots stopping a rogue AI jet from harming humans. The humans win in that film, but in real life, the outcome seems to be different

The US Air Force recently announced the first successful AI plane dogfight against a human pilot. Believe it or not, the unmanned aircraft was able to keep up!


How did the AI jet dogfight work?

The Edwards Air Force Base website proudly announced its first successful demonstration of an “AI vs. human within-visual-range engagement.”


In other words, the AI plane and human pilot had a dogfight, which involves planes fighting at close range so that the pilots can see each other.

The jet enabled by AI is called the X-62A VISTA, which stands for Variable Stability In-Flight Simulator. It is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program.

They uploaded dogfight scenarios into the X-62A and attempted them against a human-operated F-16 aircraft. The USAF describes their encounter as follows:

“Initial flight safety was built up first using defensive maneuvers, before switching to offensive high-aspect nose-to-nose engagements where the dogfighting aircraft got as close as 2,000 feet at 1,200 miles per hour.”

The VISTA jet can fly autonomously, but it had safety pilots who could disengage the AI systems in an emergency. Fortunately, they did not need to do so during the simulation.

Col. James Valpiani, commandant of the Test Pilot School, says this test marks the foundation for the future of AI-operated military aircraft: 


“The X-62A is an incredible platform, not just for research and advancing the state of tests, but also for preparing the next generation of test leaders.”

“When ensuring the capability in front of them is safe, efficient, effective, and responsible, the industry can look to the results of what the X-62A ACE team has done as a paradigm shift. 

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“We’ve fundamentally changed the conversation by showing this can be executed safely and responsibly.” Learn more about this AI aircraft from this other Inquirer Tech article.


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