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Calspan Corporation Won A Darpa Contract To Introduce The AI In L-39 Albatros

Calspan Corporation Won A Darpa Contract To Introduce The AI In L-39 Albatros

Calspan Corporation has received a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of Defense, according to which it will have to modify the Czech-made L-39 Albatros training aircraft so that they can be controlled by an artificial intelligence system. According to the company's press release, the aircraft modification will be carried out in preparation for the ACE (Air Combat Evolution, development of air combat) tender.

The upcoming DARPA ACE tender involves the development of an artificial intelligence system that can take control of a combat aircraft and conduct maneuverable close air combat. The system should be trainable — it will learn aerial combat in the same way as human cadets, starting with simple maneuvers and ending with aerobatics. The ultimate goal of the ACE program is to create an artificial intelligence system for combat drones, including unmanned wingmen that will cover manned fighters.

In General, it is assumed that the new artificial intelligence system will be able to conduct air combat faster and more effectively than a human, significantly reducing the burden on the pilot and giving him time to make tactical decisions in the framework of a larger combat task. In preparation for the ACE tender, AlphaDogFight artificial intelligence system developers are competing. The first stage of testing neural network algorithms by air combat in virtual reality took place in January 2020. In total, three stages are planned, the last of which will take place in August this year.

Under a four-year DARPA contract, Calspan Corporation will be required to equip up to four l-39 training aircraft with an open-architecture electric control system. Thanks to this system, companies participating in the ACE tender will be able to install computer systems, instrument panels, and artificial intelligence systems of their design on aircraft. Eventually, the modified L-39s will be used for testing artificial intelligence systems that will control them, including during a training air battle.

In January 2020, the American company Kratos resumed testing of the XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned wingman demonstrator, which was interrupted last fall after an emergency landing made by one of these vehicles. During the new test flight, the drone rose to a higher altitude than during previous tests. The testers collected data on the vibrations of the device and the temperature of its onboard systems. Then the drone made a successful landing.

It is assumed that the XQ-58A will be one of the unmanned platforms that will receive artificial intelligence systems developed in the framework of the ACE tender in the future. The development of the UAV is under the control of the US air force Research laboratory under the LCASD (Low-Cost Attractive Strike Demonstrator, low-cost expendable strike demonstrator) program. This program involves the creation of relatively cheap devices that could take on part of the shock tasks of manned aircraft.