Autonomous "Loyal Wingman" F-16

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neptune

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Unread post11 Apr 2017, 21:03

http://www.businessinsider.com/f-16-dro ... tin-2017-4

The Air Force just demonstrated an autonomous F-16 that can fly and take out a target all by itself

Alex Lockie
11Apr2017

In its quest to meet and exceed the challenges of the future, the US Air Force has been increasingly looking to unmanned systems — and a recent test proved that an unmanned F-16 can now think and fight on its own. The US has used F-16 drones before as realistic targets for the F-35 to blow up in training, but on Monday it announced fully autonomous air-to-air and ground strike capabilities as a new capability thanks to joint research between the service and Lockheed Martin's legendary Skunkworks. Not only did the F-16 drone figure out the best way to get there and execute a ground strike mission by itself, it was interrupted by an air threat, responded, and kept going. "We've not only shown how an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle can perform its mission when things go as planned, but also how it will react and adapt to unforeseen obstacles along the way," said Capt. Andrew Petry of the Air Force Research Laboratory in a Lockheed Martin statement. But having F-16 drones plan and fly their own missions is only part of a much larger picture. The future of the US Air Force may well depend on advanced platforms like F-35s commanding fleets of unmanned drones which can act as additional ears, eyes, and shooters in the sky during battles. The Air Force has what's called an "open mission system" where it designs all platforms to network together and share information. Essentially, even an unmanned drone will have decision-grade data fed to it from everything from satellites in the sky to radars on the ground. Lockheed Martin calls it the "loyal wingman" program, where drone systems like old F-16s can seamlessly network with F-35s and think on its feet.
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Unread post12 Apr 2017, 02:57

No air-to-air capablity demonstrated acording to this article which IMO seems more credible.

http://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/ar ... id=1721592

During the flight demonstration, an experimental F-16 aircraft acted as a surrogate Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) autonomously reacting to a dynamic threat environment during an air-to-ground strike mission. The demonstration success included three key objectives:
The ability to autonomously plan and execute air-to-ground strike missions based on mission priorities and available assets
The ability to dynamically 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 communication
A compliant USAF Open Mission Systems (OMS) software integration environment allowing rapid integration of software components developed by multiple providers
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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Unread post12 Apr 2017, 20:36

http://aviationweek.com/defense/lockhee ... al-wingman

Lockheed’s Skunk Works Demos Autonomy For Unmanned Loyal Wingman

Apr 11, 2017 Graham Warwick
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has demonstrated autonomy for unmanned combat aircraft in a manned/unmanned teaming experiment supporting the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Loyal Wingman program. The two-week Have Raider II tests at Edwards AFB, California, involved the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and its F-16 Vista inflight simulator, operated by Calspan, which was used as a surrogate unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) for the demo. While the Have Raider I demo in 2015 focused on autonomy for advanced vehicle control, Have Raider II involved “autonomy from a battle management perspective. We wanted to put mission planning on the unmanned asset itself, instead of having that capability always being locked down onto a ground station,” says Shawn Whitcomb, Skunk Works Loyal Wingman program manager. Have Raider I “pushed autonomy from a vehicle standpoint, and command and control from the lead to the unmanned platform,” he says, to demonstrate autonomous formation flying, route following and rejoining, and collision avoidance using the Vista as a surrogate UCAV and an F-16 Block 50 as the lead aircraft in a manned/unmanned strike package. With Have Raider II in March “we demonstrated the ability for the Vista aircraft to automatically plan a ground-attack mission with itself as one of the players. It had to prioritize tasks based on priorities given by the operator and assets available to achieve the overall mission objectives,” Whitcomb says. “We also evaluated the system’s ability to dynamically replan. We were looking for adaptive mission execution capability,” he says. “When the vehicle saw a pop-up ground threat, it would automatically replan the mission to minimize exposure to the threat while still achieving the mission goals. The tests look at contingencies such as the unmanned vehicle losing communications at a critical point in the mission. “How does mission contingency management take over, execute as planned and rejoin the network once comms are re-engaged?” Whitcomb says. The demo also looked at losing a particular weapon type, and how the system would replan the overall mission to achieve the objective, he says. For Have Raider I, the automatic vehicle control capabilities were integrated into the Vista.

For Have Raider II, the Skunk Works used the Air Force Open Mission System (OMS) software standard to integrate an adjunct processor onto the Vista to host the autonomous battle management algorithms. “All the ability to adaptively execute the mission was on that processor,” he says. A communications gateway between the adjunct processor and the Vista’s flight control computer allowed it to work in conjunction with the advanced vehicle control capabilities added in Have Raider I. Instead of the Block F-16 used in the first series of tests, for the second series the Vista was connected to a virtual lead aircraft on the ground. Have Raider I experimented with different types of command and control, including giving the lead pilot direct control over the UCAV via the F-16’s upfront controls. The pilot could also select a preplanned mission. The UCAV would fly the mission, perform battle-damage assessment and rejoin the formation. “We also played with the idea of using non-verbal cues. Often when pilots go into radio silence they will use something like a wing flash [rolling 90 deg., then back] to indicate to their wingman to change stations,” he says. “We programmed that in so that, depending on mission phase, the UCAV would interpret that maneuver and execute accordingly, such as going from tactical to fighting-wing formation [from abreast to closer echelon formation],” Whitcomb says. Have Raider II integrated C2 from the lead aircraft with the OMS UCI (unmanned command-and-control initiative) protocol. “At the Skunk Works we are experimenting with a pilot-vehicle interface for fifth-generation cockpits that translates relatively simple pilot intent into UCI message structures that can go out to unmanned aircraft. We started to evaluate that in Have Raider II,” he says. “We are evaluating multiple different schemes,” ranging from touchscreens to voice recognition, says Renee Pasman, Skunk Works mission systems road maps director. “We are evaluating a number of schemes both for effectiveness in translating intent and also reducing pilot cognitive workload.”

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Unread post12 Apr 2017, 22:45

Dude, I can't fully imagine what would happen if those remotely piloted F-16s could have mid-air refueling capability. For example, CAP missions which can last 24 hours in a single sortie??? :shock:
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Unread post12 Apr 2017, 22:51

Thanks Neptune for the more detailed reporting.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh

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