In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has grown in popularity. Vacuum cleaners, cars, writing programs, and a variety of other forms of technology can function independently. The United States military recently revealed that it used AI technology to pilot a fighter jet.
In mid-February, Lockheed Martin issued a press release announcing it flew its “one-of-a-kind training aircraft,” Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft (VISTA) X-62A, using an AI agent for more than 17 hours. The test flight took place in December at the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It was the first time the technology was “engaged on a tactical aircraft.”
The aircraft, according to the defense contractor, is a “modified F-16D Block 30 Peace Marble Il aircraft upgraded with Block 40 avionics.” Lockheed Martin has used artificial intelligence (AI) for decades to “maximize performance, safety, and situational awareness” for its customers. The company believes that the technology will be a significant advancement for the Air Force in the future.
The Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft (VISTA) X-62A recently completed a series of flight tests, where the aircraft was flown entirely by AI for an incredible 17+ hours! pic.twitter.com/14nBAWoIep— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) February 13, 2023
According to Fox News, there were pilots on board the plane at all times during the flight in case something went wrong. Throughout the tests, four distinct AI algorithms were in command of the jet. The Department of Defense had the aircraft practice takeoffs, landings, and multiple simulated combat missions during the experiment.
The military hopes that the tests will allow them to advance their agenda of protecting American troops. If a jet can be flown without a pilot on board, the number of Air Force members forced into direct combat during a war could be reduced.
Though technological advancements are always welcome in the military, this will almost certainly be met with criticism. There is an entire movement against remote-controlled drones. These are small unmanned aircraft capable of carrying lethal payloads. Consider the potential damage an unmanned fighter jet could cause.