Air Force pilot to face virtual dogfight with AI foe

| August 15, 2020

On Thursday this week the Air Force will pit one of its elite fighter pilots against a computer in a virtual dog fight. The DARPA program will consist of three days of trials and tests for their artificial intelligence systems. The USAF Weapons School-trained F-16 pilot will face off against eight AI teams’ systems to see which performs the best.

If this sounds interesting, they’ll be broadcasting the experiment live over the Internet. The broadcast will include color commentary from experts and guests at the sports desk-like “Control Zone.”

This could be a chilling vision of the future. We might be watching future wars livestreaming on the Internet, complete with witty banter from play-by-play announcers. This could also be where, if movies have taught me anything, the computers become self-aware and realize they can kills us.

I just really hope the human pilot is aware of the legend of John Henry. Henry was a “steel driving man” whose prowess with the hammer was tested against a steam drill. Winning the competition, John Henry died from the effort, hammer still in hand.

Source; Stars and Stripes

Category: Air Force, It's science!, Science and Technology

Comments (16)

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  1. Sparks says:

    If anyone knows a link to listen on, let us know. Thank you Mason.

    • ninja says:


      According to the Stars and Stripes article that Mason referenced:

      “However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the event online and all three days will instead be livestreamed on multiple channels as a ZoomGov webinar from the Johns Hopkins laboratory in Laurel, Md., where the pilot will be participating.”

      “Anyone can watch the webinar if they register before the Monday deadline, Javorsek said.”

  2. ninja says:

    Mason’s post reminds me of this interesting 2011 2 minute ABC News video story.

    Guess who won.

    “Jeopardy: Man vs. ‘Watson’ Machine”

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    The Cylons might of been good, but us Door gunners defended the Galactica against ALL of them. Like a Timex, we took a lickin but kept on tickin. The Viper pilots looked good in their flight suits and helped a little bit, but it was the platform mounted, close in Artillery that saved the fleet.

    And we all know what little Sarah did to that Terminator Dude. Don’t forget the number of X-Wing fighters we lost trying to let AI take out the Death Star. May the Force be with the F16s.

  4. The Other Whitey says:

    Will this be done in a simulator? Real F-16 vs drone? F-16 vs AI-controlled QF-16? I’m curious as to how level the playing field will be.

  5. Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH B Woodman says:

    Virtual war? Puts me in mind of “Ender’s Game”.

  6. David says:

    The human pilot will use the callsign Human1 and the VR system will use the word Skynet.

  7. SFC D says:

    Will the AI “pilot” be eligible for that school for naval aviators, what’s that place called?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ah, the movie Stealth… can we see Jessica Biel in a tight flight suit now, too?

  9. LC says:

    Sadly, they closed registration (needed to view the event) due to overwhelming demand. On Tuesday, the eight AI contenders fly against five different AI systems developed by Johns Hopkins APL. Here’s a bit more info:

    And here are some videos from the teams:

    All in all, I’m more interested in DARPA’s swarm intelligence research than one-on-one dogfighting, but still, this will be interesting to see. For those who don’t remember, the DARPA Grand Challenge contest for autonomous vehicles saw the best car make it 7 miles into a 150-mile challenge in year one… and the next year, 22 of 23 teams completed it.