First Test Flight Of Skyborg's "Computer Brain" Flown On UTAP-22 Loyal Wingman Drone

Ben Dhyani

Active member

The U.S. Air Force says that it has conducted the first flight test of an initial version of the artificial intelligence-driven "computer brain" it is developing under the Skyborg program using a Kratos UTAP-22 Mako unmanned aircraft. Kratos, along with Boeing and General Atomics, are on contract to start delivering new drones soon to support this project. Skyborg is centered on crafting a system of systems that will be able to fly networked "loyal wingman" type drones, as well as fully autonomous unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio announced the successful completion of the flight test, which it said lasted approximately two hours and 10 minutes, on May 5, 2021. The flight had occurred on April 29, with personnel launching the UTAP-22 carrying the Skyborg Autonomy Core System (ACS) from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Tyndall has immediate access to extensive over-water ranges in the Gulf of Mexico and is already a regular launch point for ground-launched Kratos BQM-167A Skeeter target drones, from which the UTAP-22 is derived.

We’re extremely excited for the successful flight of an early version of the ’brain‘ of the Skyborg system. It is the first step in a marathon of progressive growth for Skyborg technology," Air Force Brigadier General Dale White, the service's Program Executive Officer for Skyborg, as well as for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, said in a statement. "These initial flights kickoff the experimentation campaign that will continue to mature the ACS and build trust in the system."