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Friday, March 5th, 2021

Skyborg project seeks industry input for artificial intelligence initiative

© U.S. Air Force

The Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) office at the Air Force Research Laboratory is seeking artificial intelligence (AI) industry input regarding incorporating artificial intelligence into its Skyborg unmanned combat vehicle.

SDPE office is seeking to develop Skyborg, a prototype Autonomous, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle as an Early Operational Capability as early as 2023.

“There was a lot of analysis that determined what was put into the CRFI (Capabilities Request for Information),” Ben Tran, Skyborg program manager, said. “We’ve been given the overall objective to have an early operational capability prototype fielded by the end of calendar year 2023, so this is our first step in determining what the current state of the art is from a technology perspective and from a systems engineering perspective to provide that EOC capability in 2023.”

The request for information involves conducting market research and developing concepts of operations analysis to learn what is commercially available now as high technology readiness level capabilities which can meet the requirements and timeline of the Skyborg program.

“Skyborg is a vessel for AI technologies that could range from rather simple algorithms to fly the aircraft and control them in airspace to the introduction of more complicated levels of AI to accomplish certain tasks or subtasks of the mission,” Matt Duquette, an AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate engineer, said.

The CRFI determined prior to operational AI innovation occuring, the Air Force must field an autonomous system that meets an immediate operational need and serve as an iterative platform to facilitate complex AI development, prototyping, experimentation, and fielding.