Lockheed, USAF demo manned/unmanned teaming
Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), US Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School and Calspan Corporation have carried out a successful manned/unmanned teaming exercise as part of work to enhance combat efficiency and effectiveness.
During the Have Raider II demonstration, an experimental F-16 aircraft was deployed as a surrogate unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) to automatically react to a dynamic threat environment during an air-to-ground strike mission.
The three key objectives for the demonstration were the ability to automatically plan and execute air-to-ground strike missions based on mission priorities and available assets; the ability to react to a changing threat environment during an air-to-ground strike mission while automatically managing contingencies for capability failures, route deviations, and loss of communications; and use of a fully compliant USAF open mission systems software integration environment, allowing for rapid integration of software components developed by multiple providers.
The two-week demonstration at the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, was the second in a series of manned/unmanned teaming exercises designed to evaluate enabling technologies.
The first demonstration, Have Raider I, emphasised advanced vehicle control. During this demonstration, the F-16 autonomously flew in formation with a lead aircraft and conducted a ground-attack mission. The F-16 then automatically re-joined the lead aircraft once the mission was over. These capabilities were linked with Lockheed Martin's automatic collision avoidance systems to ensure safe, coordinated teaming between the F-16 and surrogate UCAV.
Manned/unmanned teaming is being investigated as a means of reducing cognitive workloads and allowing the warfighter to focus on creative and complex planning and management. Autonomous systems also have the ability to access hazardous mission environments, react more quickly, and provide persistent capabilities without fatigue.
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