General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has been selected by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) to provide its Avenger unmanned aerial system (UAS) in support of the Skyborg Vanguard Program, which aims to develop the foundations for Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) autonomous capabilities that will be incorporated into a family of future USAF combat UAVs.
GA-ASI will modify two company-owned Avengers with upgraded datalinks and the core Skyborg System Design Agent (SDA) software, as well as other payloads. The unmanned aircraft will be used in various flight trials during which manned aircraft will control Avengers while in flight and relay specific information between the manned and unmanned aircraft. The tests will be conducted from GA-ASI flight centres in Southern California.
According to the AFLCMC, the aim of the Skyborg Vanguard program is to combine autonomous, attritable UAV technology with open missions systems to enable manned-unmanned teaming. Skyborg will provide the foundation on which the Air Force can build an airborne autonomous system that adapts, orients, and decides at machine speed for a wide variety of increasingly complex mission sets.
David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI, commented: “GA-ASI is excited to continue working with the Air Force to advance the Skyborg concept. Our ongoing investments in advancing unmanned systems over the past 30 years provide a critical advantage for fast-tracking development time and reducing overall program risk.”
“The Avenger platform is a jet-powered, advanced RPA that is well understood and has undergone more than a decade of research and design. We have already shown its suitability as a next-generation host for advanced AI software. This next phase of integration will combine the Skyborg software with GA-ASI hardware, in order to prove that a dynamic mix of manned and unmanned aircraft can communicate, collaborate, and fight together.”