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Oh great, Russian fighter pilots are going to start flying with scary AI wingmen

Published Jan 27th, 2019 2:51PM EST
Russian military
Image: ВКС России, Facebook

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Well, it seems Russian military officials don’t want to just stop with that fearsome new hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile that was tested last month, which we told you about and which Russia claims there’s no defense against. It would appear the country’s military forces have also been testing the feasibility of having AI-powered wingmen fly alongside Russian fighter pilots, executing commands issued by the human pilot an inaugurating a scary new chapter in aerial military combat.

News accounts of Russia’s efforts here are the result of images spotted on social media of a drone called Hunter, an unmanned combat vehicle, along with images of a jet called the Sukhoi Su-57. Of particular interest is that fighter jet’s tail. As you can see below, on the tail you can see the shape of a jet as well as an image that seems to be the “Hunter” drone, along with the image of a lighting bolt.

The Aviationist news site notes that lightning bolt suggests a wireless connection between both planes.

Image source: ВКС России on Facebook

The Russian military doesn’t seem to be trying to hard to hard the relationship. Because also, according to The Aviationist, “new pixelated camouflage on the underside of the aircraft mimics the plan view shape of the Hunter remotely piloted aircraft.”

Per The Aviationist: “Speculation has surfaced that the Su-57 may be developing some capability to control or share data with this new remotely piloted aircraft. This concept may be similar to an idea proposed by the U.S. Air Force with the F-35A Lightning II.

“A future concept video released by the Air Force Research Lab on March 22, 2018, shows an animation of an F-35A flying with six unmanned aircraft. The concept is that the unmanned aircraft themselves manage their own basic flight control while the F-35A acts as a command and control hub to assign targets and select weapons for the unmanned aircraft to employ.”

Word of the AI-powered crafts come on the heels of last month’s test of Russia’s Avangard missle system, which combines a powerful ballistic missile with what’s known as a “hypersonic glider.” Russia claims the system is capable of speeds exceeding five times the speed of sound, and that the missile can successfully evade modern missile defense systems.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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