A human-AI aerial combat simulation conducted in August this year proved devastating for a human operator. This confirmed the need for the development of the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program initiated by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Recently, the American agency signed contracts with five contractors who will develop five AI for close air combat.
Boeing, EpiSci, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Heron Systems and PhysicsAI will develop algorithms for fighters and their wingmen. Combat AI will have to work both independently and in tandem with the same unmanned fighter or with a manned fighter. More precisely, the developers are required to create an algorithm that implements one-on-one, two-on-one, and two-on-two melee schemes.
There are three stages of testing algorithms. In the first phase, the AI will fight in a computer simulation. At the second stage, under the control of AI, an imitation of air combat between small aircraft will be carried out. Finally, in the third stage, which will take place in 2023, the AI will simulate close air combat on combat fighters.
In general, the ACE (Air Combat Evolution) program is part of the larger Mosaic Warfare program. With the development of AI algorithms and control of combat actions at a new level, the military will expand the scale of interaction between AI and manpower to full-scale combat clashes involving all branches of the military.
Returning to the ACE program, we note that the training of AI in combat piloting skills is planned to be carried out similar to the training of living cadets – from the basics to higher skills. This and other developments in support of the ACE program will be undertaken by other program participants. Thus, under the T2 (ACE) program, SoarTech will develop a methodology for measuring pilots’ trust in AI actions and interaction with human-machine interfaces. Under the T3 (ACE) program, Dynetics and Lockheed Martin will create a dataset and model to analyze the scaling of multi-aircraft combat.
The T4 program (ACE) Calspan will supply full-scale L-39 combat aircraft for the AI equipment for the corresponding test phase (these are the Czechoslovak combat training Albatrosses). The development of the actual algorithms for combat AI belongs to the T1 program (ACE).
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