A reader put me onto this article about artificial intelligence (AI) for unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV). According to the article, an AI program has been developed that is capable of consistently beating fighter pilots in simulators. If this is true, and that’s a huge if, this is the enabler that makes UCAVs a reality and I’ll have to readjust all my thinking about force structure, doctrine, tactics, etc.
I’m not going to recap the article. Instead, I urge you to read it for yourself via the link at the end of this post (1).
The basic concept of the program is claimed to be a combination of fuzzy logic and programmatic evolution. Fuzzy logic has been around for a long time. The most interesting aspect of this, to me, is the use of programming evolution – survival of the fittest program. Apparently, numerous, differing versions of the program were created and exercised. As time went on, the more successful versions survived and were utilized to create newer and better versions and so on in a form of Darwinian evolution.
I’m sure there are limits to this program that prevent it from replacing pilots, yet. For example, I’m assuming that it’s been developed as a one-versus-one (1v1) combat program as opposed to a one-member-of-a-team program. An actual pilot not only needs to be able to win 1v1 aerial duels but also function as a member of a group and make evaluations about supporting other team members, assess mission accomplishment versus personal survival and supporting teammates, make decisions about mission accomplishment versus collateral damage risks, etc. I’m sure the program can’t do any of that. However, if they’ve managed to create a working UCAV AI then there’s no reason they couldn’t fold in the other aspects of piloting.
(1)phys.org website, “Beyond video games: New artificial intelligence beats tactical experts in combat simulation”, M.b. Reilly,
June 27, 2016,