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AI Could Enable 'Swarm Warfare' for Tomorrow's Fighter Jets

By Wired

March 22, 2021

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The dogfight hardly seemed fair.

Two F-16s engaged with an opposing F-16 at an altitude of 16,000 feet above rocky desert terrain. As the aircraft converged from opposite directions, the paired F-16s suddenly spun away from one another, forcing their foe to choose one to pursue. The F-16 that had been left alone then quickly changed course, maneuvering behind the enemy with textbook precision. A few seconds later, it launched a missile that destroyed the opposing jet before it could react.

The battle took place last month in a computer simulator. Here's what made it special: All three aircraft were controlled by artificial intelligence algorithms. Those algorithms had learned how to react and perform aerial maneuvers partly through a state-of-the-art AI technique that involves testing different approaches thousands of times and seeing which work best.


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