General Atomics Aeronautical Systems advanced its ability to operationalize the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) ecosystem by combining advanced autonomy and government-provided human-machine interface (HMI) hardware. A GA-ASI-owned Avenger® Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) was paired with “digital twin” aircraft to autonomously conduct Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) multi-objective collaborative combat missions.
The flights, which took place on July 13, 2023, from GA-ASI’s Desert Horizon Flight Operations Facility in El Mirage, Calif., demonstrate the company’s commitment to maturing its UCAV ecosystem for Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP). The ecosystem’s goal is to rapidly integrate best-of-breed capabilities in areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), mission-relevant interfaces, and other capabilities from third-party providers at the speed of relevance for 21st century conflicts.
The team demonstrated Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) using the U.S. Air Force’s Project FoX system, which included a touchscreen tablet for fighter cockpits. The tablet provided control and monitoring of advanced autonomy while it conducted a multi-objective combat mission consisting of LVC entities. Mission autonomy capabilities focused on optimized search and signature management. Search optimization autonomy behaviors were provided by Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI). These skills were integrated into and orchestrated by government-furnished equipment (GFE) autonomy core architecture enhanced by GA-ASI. The flexibility of the GFE autonomy core software stack enabled rapid, seamless integration of one of SSCI’s multi-UAS behaviors. Autonomous trajectories were calculated by SSCI algorithms and subsequently communicated to GA-ASI’s autonomy core for translation to vehicle routes. SSCI provided an array of behaviors using its Collaborative Mission Autonomy suite where the software adapts to mission contingencies such as system failures, connectivity dropout, and combat losses to ensure successful tactical execution.
“The concepts demonstrated by these flights set the standard for operationally relevant mission systems capabilities on UCAV platforms,” said GA-ASI Senior Director of Advanced Programs Michael Atwood. “Our integration of the emerging FoX system accelerates speed to ramp for emerging collaborative air-to-air capabilities. The combination of airborne high-performance computing, sensor fusion, human-machine teaming, and AI pilots making decisions at the speed of relevance shows how quickly GA-ASI’s capabilities are maturing as we move to operationalize autonomy for UCAVs.”