U.S. fighter jets could work together with high-performance unmanned combat aircraft dogfighting by 2020s

Unmanned combat aircraft by the next decade could join high-performance U.S. military fighter jets as trusted partners in dogfighting, Defense News says.

Drone Wingmen 23 May 2019

WASHINGTON – The F-35 and F-15EX fighter jets could get drone wingmen in the coming years, as Air Force leaders explore ways to team Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing’s new F-15EX with the XQ-58 Valkyrie drone or similar unmanned platforms in future dogfighting. Defense News reports. Continue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

23 May -- The Valkyrie, which flew its first test flight at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on March 5, was designed to perform and maneuver like fighter jets. It can fly at high subsonic speeds, takeoff without a runway, and, according to Kratos, meet or exceed the Air Force’s requirement for a 1,500-nautical-mile range with a 500-pound payload.

The Air Force is also assessing whether other unmanned aerial systems would complement the Skyborg program. A March request for information describes “a modular, fighter-like aircraft” that is autonomous and attritable, with open systems that allow it to be updated with new AI software or new hardware. Desired characteristics include the ability to detect and avoid obstacles and bad weather, and to takeoff and land autonomously.

For the F-35, the pathway to incorporating Skyborg would involve writing software — similar to an iPhone application —that could be installed on the jet during its Block 4 modernization phase in the early 2020s.

Related: Air Force eyes inexpensive Skyborg unmanned combat aircraft that pushes bounds of artificial intelligence (AI)

Related: Composite Engineering to develop technologies for low-cost unmanned attack aircraft

Related: Air Force ready to approach industry for enabling technologies in affordable attack drones

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

More in Unmanned