The introduction of unmanned fighter jets has been considered to succeed the Air Self-Defense Force's aging F-2s, which are expected to start being retired within two decades, as part of efforts to reduce development costs, according to government officials. The proposal was made earlier this year by Taro Kono, who was defense chief until last month before he became administrative reform minister in new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said discussions in the Defense Ministry were, however, suspended in the wake of the government's decision in June to scrap its plan to deploy the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore land-based defense system, designed to counter missile threats from North Korea. Japan plans to start work on a new fighter jet in fiscal 2024 together with U.S. or British companies, and aims to introduce it in fiscal 2035 when the current F-2s are scheduled to start being retired. The ministry estimates that at least ¥1.2 trillion is needed to develop a manned fighter jet, while a drone -- which has no space for a pilot and requires no safety equipment -- costs much less to build.
More than 3 million acres of California have burned this year, and 18,000 firefighters are still battling 27 major wildfires across the sooty state sometimes called golden. And every day, high above the smoke, a military drone with a wingspan roughly 10 times that of LeBron James feeds infrared video of the flames back to March Air Reserve Base, east of Los Angeles, to help map the destruction and assist firefighters. These MQ-9 "Reaper" drones don't usually fly domestic--they're on standby in case the Air Force needs them for overseas reconnaissance. But climate change has helped make crisscrossing California gathering video a new fall tradition for the 163rd Attack Wing. Its drones have helped map wildfires every year since 2017, thanks to special permission from the secretary of defense.
The next year will be pivotal for the Air Force's effort to acquire a new class of autonomous drones, as industry teams compete for a chance to build a fleet of robotic wingmen that will soon undergo operational experimentation. The "Skyborg" program is one of the service's top science-and-technology priorities under the "Vanguard" initiative to deliver game-changing capabilities to its warfighters. The aim is to acquire relatively inexpensive, attritable unmanned aircraft that can leverage artificial intelligence and accompany manned fighter jets into battle. "I expect that we will do sorties where a set number are expected to fly with the manned systems, and we'll have crazy new [concepts of operation] for how they'll be used," Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper said during an online event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. The platforms might even be called upon to conduct kamikaze missions.
They spent hours circling the sky, seeking, among other things, surface-to-air missile launchers lurking in the brush. The missiles they found weren't enemy ones. They were props for early test flights of a prototype military drone stuffed with artificial intelligence--the latest product from Anduril, a defense-tech startup founded by Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus Rift. The new drone, the Ghost 4, shows the potential for AI in military systems. Luckey says it is the first generation that can perform various reconnaissance missions, including searching an area for enemy hardware or soldiers, under the control of a single person on the ground.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. A forward-operating, satellite-networked Air Force drone comes across a small, moving group of enemy surface ships heading toward vulnerable areas, when instant data is sent to Navy ships' commanders and land-based Army weapons operators in real-time, enabling a coordinated, multi-pronged attack using deck-fired Tomahawk missiles fired from the ocean, land-based attack rockets and fighter jets armed with air-to-surface weapons. This possible scenario, in which land, sea and air warriors and weapons system share information in real-time across vast, otherwise dispersed areas to optimize attack is precisely what the Pentagon intends with its new doctrinal and technical approach to future war. The Army, Navy and Air Force each have secure information-sharing combat network technology programs.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is worried that artificial intelligence programs might have serious and unknown vulnerabilities that adversaries could exploit. In particular, the Pentagon is worried that the technology could not only be hacked, but could be "spoofed". That is, it could be intentionally deceived into thinking that it sees objects – or military targets – that do not exist. The opposite is true as well: military targets could be erroneously ignored. That is one reason the US Air Force (USAF) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded the "MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator" in 2019.
It's official: The robots are taking over. But in a significant development on August 20, an artificial intelligence (AI) program managed to defeat a human F-16 pilot in simulated dogfights. The AI program, designed by tech firm Heron Systems, was pitched against the human pilot in an environment resembling an elaborate video game during the third and final event of the AlphaDogfight trials organized by U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Heron System's website notes that the program was based on deep reinforcement learning – an AI technique that combines insights from behavioral psychology with how the human cortex is structured and functions – along with unspecified innovations. The bested human operator, publicly known only by their callsign, "Banger," was reported to have been trained at the Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. What if an unmanned fighter or advanced drone, operated with various levels of advanced AI-informed algorithms, engaged in fast air-to-air combat maneuvers in a direct dogfight or close-in engagement with a manned enemy fighter? These questions, which raise substantial tactical, strategic and command and control questions, are fast becoming a near-term reality. NEW AIR FORCE STEALTH BOMBER ARRIVES IN JUST '2 YEARS' "Autonomous systems going up against a manned system in some kind of air-to-air engagement ... is a bold idea," Lt. Gen. "Jack" Shanahan, Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in a special video interview series.
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Senior Air Force commanders are employing new tactics, technologies and protocols to better safeguard drones from being shot down by enemy fire during missions. Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Forces Europe, recently told reporters that senior U.S. military leaders are now in an effort to increase mission survivability for combat drones operating in high-risk areas. Responding to a question about an MQ-9 Reaper being shot down over Yemen last year, Harrigian emphasized that drone operations need to become less predictable to enemies. "There is something to be said for operating in a manner that offers us an opportunity to not be as predictable as we have been.
The US Air Force has long been exploring the way artificial intelligence (AI) can assist in its operations -- back in 2016 we saw combat AI beat some of the Air Force's top tactical experts, for example. Now, researchers are working on an autonomous drone designed to take down a piloted plane in air-to-air combat, with a showdown slated for July 2021. As reported by Air Force Magazine, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been developing an autonomous fighter jet since 2018, with plans to use machine-learning technology in less advanced planes initially -- such as the F-16 -- before graduating to newer models, such as the F-22 or F-35. Of course, details are a little hazy -- it's a military project after all and therefore subject to hefty classification. In a video, however, head of the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan said the AFRL is "pushing the boundaries" of AI in a military application, adding that the team is quietly confident that the "machine [will] beat the human."