AI Technology Achieves New Heights with Successful Flight of Kratos MQM-178 Firejet

AI Technology Achieves New Heights with Successful Flight of Kratos MQM-178 Firejet

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Apr 01, 2024

In a significant advancement for autonomous aviation, Shield AI, in collaboration with Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: KTOS) has reported completion of the initial phase of AI-piloted flight tests on Kratos platforms. This marks a major step towards commercializing Shield AI’s autonomous pilot technology for use in the XQ-58 Valkyrie.

Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot has already demonstrated its capabilities across five different aircraft types, including various quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16 in autonomous air combat training scenarios. The addition of the Kratos MQM-178 Firejet to this list signifies not only a major milestone in Shield AI and Kratos’s collaborative project but also highlights the accelerating pace of integrating AI pilots onto diverse aircraft platforms. Notably, the transition from contract signing to operational flight on the F-16 took over three years, while the Kratos Firejet project was completed in less than 180 days, showcasing the efficiency and scalability of Shield AI’s technology.

Ryan Tseng, CEO and Co-Founder of Shield AI, emphasized the company’s advancements in autonomy, AI design tools, and infrastructure as key enablers for the rapid and safe deployment of Hivemind across different aircraft classes. Meanwhile, Brandon Tseng, President and Co-Founder of Shield AI and a former Navy SEAL, envisioned a future where AI pilots manage all aircraft operations, surpassing the impact of self-driving cars. The MQM-178 Firejet represents the sixth aircraft type controlled by Hivemind and the second jet-powered aircraft, following successful AI piloted F-16 dogfights.

The MQM-178 Firejet serves multiple roles, from weapons-release training to acting as a high-speed, high-maneuverability, low-signature UAS in offensive/defensive capacities, all at a cost below $500K per aircraft. This flexibility, combined with its contested environment capabilities, positions the Firejet as a strategic asset for replicating threats and enhancing operational effectiveness without risking American lives.

Steve Fendley, President of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division, lauded the exceptional collaboration between Kratos and Shield AI, which has expedited the development and testing of AI-piloted aircraft systems. This partnership not only merges Kratos’ expertise in jet-powered unmanned aircraft with Shield AI’s AI and software capabilities but also aims to deliver innovative systems to bolster U.S. National Security promptly.

Related Links

Shield AI

Kratos Defense and Security Solutions

Aerospace News at

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