“In early December 2022, the developers of the algorithm, codenamed Air Combat Evolution, loaded their AI software into a specially modified F-16 test aircraft located at the US Air Force Base in California and made several flights,” DARPA said in a press release. “The flights have demonstrated that artificial intelligence can fly a full-size fighter jet.”
The unmanned fighter aircraft program began in 2019, when the agency began working on human-machine interaction in dogfights. In 2020, testing of the interaction of fighter control systems with artificial intelligence began. At the same time, the agency was running the Alpha Dogfight Trials to see who could create the most advanced algorithm for an AI aircraft.
Air Combat Evolution is one of more than 600 Department of Defense AI projects. In 2018, the US government pledged to spend up to $2 billion on AI development. However, in 2022 alone, planned spending exceeded the $2.58 billion spent on AI research and development.