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The Air Force’s First Demonstration of the Skyborg Autonomy System Is a Success

The Air Force gets one step closer to developing the ultimate airborne autonomous system that will enable crewed-uncrewed teaming, after the successful first launch of the Skyborg autonomy core system.
The Skyborg ACS was launched aboard a Kratos UTAP-22 UAV 2 photos
The Skyborg ACS aboard a Kratos UTAP-22 UAV
The Air Force announced that it carried out the first flight test of the Skyborg autonomy core system (ACS), which was launched aboard a Kratos UTAP-22 tactical uncrewed vehicle, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. During the 2 hour and 10 minute-test, the ACS showed that it is able to successfully respond to navigational commands and perform coordinated maneuvering. Both airborne and ground command systems monitored the ACS throughout the test.

By equipping the Kratos UTAP-22 UAV with the Skyborg autonomy core system, the aircraft is able to perform various operations independently. According to the Air Force Research Laboratory, the autonomy system is able to detect potential threats, determine their proximity and then identify adequate options for either attacking or evading the enemy.

This first test, which demonstrated the safe operation of the autonomy core system, is named Milestone 1, as part of the Autonomous Attritable Aircraft Experimentation (AAAx) campaign, which will continue with several other tests during the following months.

These test missions, including the first flight test, are executed by the 96th Test Wing, which provides the infrastructure support for the Skyborg development project. A representative of the Air Force Research Laboratory is also part of the Skyborg Vanguard team that conducts the tests, together with the program executive officer for fighters and advanced aircraft.

The ultimate objective of the Skyborg Vanguard program is to develop an airborne autonomous “best of breed” system that is capable of excellent performance in complex combat missions. Milestone 1 is an important step towards achieving this goal, because it is the first time an autonomous system is demonstrated using an Air Force range.

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