Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

U.S. Air Force used AI to pilot a fighter jet for 17 hours

Published Feb 14th, 2023 6:00PM EST
The X-62A VISTA Aircraft flying above Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Photo Credit: Kyle Brasier, U.S. Air Force)
Image: Kyle Brasier, U.S. Air Force

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

They’re doing a Terminator.

In a press release, Lockheed Martin announced that the United States Air Force has successfully flown a fighter jet that was powered by artificial intelligence for 17 hours during a series of tests that occurred in December 2022. The company says that this marks the first time that AI has been engaged on a tactical aircraft.

According to the release, the jet that was used for the test was the X-62A VISTA, a “modified F-16D Block 30 Peace Marble Il aircraft upgraded with Block 40 avionics.” The tests were conducted at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.

VISTA is a one-of-a-kind training airplane developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® in collaboration with Calspan Corporation for the USAF TPS. Built on open systems architecture, VISTA is fitted with software that allows it to mimic the performance characteristics of other aircraft.

Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School director of research, said that the new system will “rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms.”

“VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs. This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter.”

The United States is well known for its drone capabilities but those have mostly been known to have been piloted by a human being. Engaging artificial intelligence to pilot a fighter jet with no crew in the airplane is taking things to a whole new level. Terminator level. They’re almost doing a SkyNet.

The news comes the week after Microsoft and Google announced their own advancements in AI. While not at the terrifying level that Lockheed Martin just announced, the companies are looking to apply AI technology to their search products. Microsoft announced a new version of Bing and Edge powered by OpenAI, and Google announced Bard, its ChatGPT competitor that looks to take on the new AI-powered version of Bing.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.