AI-Piloted Flights Conducted on Tactical UAS

Kratos and Shield AI have completed AI-piloted flight-testing on-board Kratos’ UAS family, having already successfully done so on three classes of quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16 By Abi Wylie / 05 Apr 2024
AI-Piloted Flights Conducted on Tactical UAS
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Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. and Shield AI, Inc. have successfully completed the first phase of Shield’s AI-piloted flight-testing on-board the Kratos family of UAS as the two companies move toward productizing Shield AI’s pilot on these systems.

Having successfully flown AI pilots on five aircraft — three classes of quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16 in fully autonomous air combat training — Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot has now successfully flown on and controlled the Kratos Tactical Firejet. 

These successful flights are a major milestone in the comprehensive integration project as Shield AI and Kratos look to ultimately productize another configuration of the Valkyrie, in this case with Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot.

The Firejet, in its jet target system role, fills a variety of end-to-end weapons-release training, supporting surface-to-air and air-to-air engagements. Additionally, the Tactical Firejet offers an offensive/defensive jet UAS system in the sub $500K price range per aircraft with substantial mission systems and performance capabilities. 

In either mission configuration (target/tactical), the Firejet delivers a high-speed, high-maneuverability, low-signature solution for replicating threats or enabling no-risk-to-Warfighter-life operational effectiveness with a level of contested environment capability.

Kratos is a technology company in the Defense, National Security and Global Markets and an industry-leading provider of high-performance, jet-powered tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Shield AI, Inc. is a defense technology company aiming to build the world’s best AI pilot.

Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s CEO and Co-Founder, said; “Our substantial investments in autonomy and AI design tools, infrastructure, and pipelines are what enable Shield AI to rapidly integrate Hivemind onto different classes of aircraft and most importantly, fly them safely. 

“We’re getting faster and faster. It was over three years from signing the contract to flying the F-16; now, it’s less than 180 days for the Kratos Firejet. The vision of portable autonomy software for military hardware has been realized, flown, and deployed by Shield AI.”

Steve Fendley, President of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division, added; “The ability of our teams (Kratos and Shield AI) to collaborate and work together as two commercial entities driving toward technical mission capability solutions and systems to ultimately support the DoD provides a rapid path to system realization. 

“Firejet is the first; there’s more to come and we’re excited about the technology, what it enables, the speed at which we can create and deliver these systems, and the broad application space and impact that these high capability, affordable UAS provide to the warfighter.”

Posted by Abi Wylie Connect & Contact