The Skyborg team conducted a multi-hour flight test on October 26 of the Skyborg Autonomy Core System (ACS) aboard two General Atomics MQ-20 Avenger tactical unmanned vehicles during the Orange Flag (OF) 21-3 Large Force Test Event at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California.
Skyborg is focused on demonstrating an open, modular, government-owned ACS that can autonomously aviate, navigate, and communicate, and eventually integrate other advanced capabilities.
This experimentation event built upon the basic flight autonomy behaviors demonstrated at OF 21-2. The flight demonstrated matured capabilities of the ACS that enabled two MQ-20s to fly autonomously while communicating with each other to ensure coordinated flight. Additionally, the aircraft responded to navigational commands, stayed within specified geo-fences, and maintained flight envelopes. Both aircraft were monitored from a ground command and control station.
The test community, especially the 412th Test Wing, has been instrumental in helping to integrate government-owned autonomy into operational test events. These test events facilitate trust between the warfighter and autonomous technologies to help inform future operational use cases.
«These operational experimentation tests continue to demonstrate emerging technologies and helps the enterprise posture to transition this capability to the warfighter while preparing for the high-end fight», said Brigadier General Dale White, Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
«We have made tremendous progress in transforming ideas to reality in a short time frame. The team has continued the full court press to mature a Government-owned autonomy core and develop the foundational technologies for a future capability», said Major General Heather Pringle, Air Force Research Laboratory commander.
«Large force testing of autonomous unmanned-unmanned teaming is the natural evolution to fielding warfighter capability for the future fight», said Brigadier General Matthew Higer, 412th Test Wing commander at Edwards AFB, California.
Future Skyborg experimentation events will explore direct manned-unmanned teaming between manned aircraft and multiple ACS-controlled unmanned aircraft.
Background: The Skyborg Vanguard team is a unique relationship that pairs Major General Heather Pringle, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory as the Skyborg Technology Executive Officer (TEO) and Brigadier General Dale White, Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft as the Skyborg PEO. The Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force (ET-CTF), under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Adam Brooks, serves as the executing agent for these test missions at the 412th Test Wing, Commanded by Brigadier General Matthew Higer at Edwards AFB.