“The Race for AI Supremacy in Fighter Jets: US vs. China”

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Advancements in AI: The Future of Military Technology

Washington, D.C. – In a recent event in California, two Air Force fighter jets engaged in a dogfight. However, there was a significant difference between the two aircraft. While one was piloted by a human, the other was controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), with the highest-ranking civilian from the Air Force accompanying it in the front seat. This extraordinary display of technological progress highlights the Air Force’s advancements in AI, a technology that traces its roots back to the 1950s. However, it also serves as a glimpse into the future, where even more impressive AI technologies are yet to come.

The United States finds itself in a competition with China to maintain its dominance in AI and its integration into weapon systems. The focus on AI has raised concerns among the public that future wars may be fought by machines, capable of selecting and striking targets without direct human intervention. Officials reassure that this scenario will never occur on the US side. However, questions arise regarding the actions of potential adversaries, leaving the military with no choice but to expedite the deployment of advanced AI capabilities.

“Whether we label it as a race or not, it certainly is,” stated Admiral Christopher Grady, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Both the United States and China have recognized that AI will be a critical element on future battlefields. China is working on it just as diligently as we are.”

The Evolution of AI in the Military

The military’s utilization of AI can be traced back to a combination of machine learning and autonomy. Machine learning refers to the process in which a computer analyzes data and predefined rules to draw conclusions. Autonomy, on the other hand, occurs when these conclusions are applied to take action without requiring further human input.

One of the earliest instances of this combination was witnessed in the 1960s and 1970s with the development of the Navy’s Aegis missile defense system. Aegis was trained through a series of human-programmed if/then rule sets, enabling it to autonomously detect and intercept incoming missiles more rapidly than a human operator. However, Aegis was limited to the predefined rule sets and lacked the ability to learn from its decisions.

A significant breakthrough occurred in 2012 when the combination of big data and advanced computing power allowed computers to analyze information and generate their own rule sets. This event, often referred to as AI’s “big bang,” marked a turning point in the field. The newly created data, generated by computers writing their own rules, is what AI experts consider artificial intelligence. Systems can then be programmed to act autonomously based on the conclusions derived from these machine-written rules, representing a form of AI-enabled autonomy.

Exploring AI Applications in the Military

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall recently experienced the advancements in AI firsthand when he participated in a dogfighting exercise over California’s Edwards Air Force Base. Kendall flew on Vista, the first F-16 fighter jet controlled by AI. While this jet is a prominent example of ongoing AI development, there are numerous other AI projects underway across the Pentagon.

At MIT, service members have been working diligently to analyze thousands of hours of recorded pilot conversations. The goal is to create a comprehensive dataset from the vast amount of messages exchanged between aircrews and air operations centers during flights. This dataset enables AI to differentiate between critical messages, such as a closed runway, and mundane cockpit chatter. The objective is to enhance the AI’s ability to prioritize and elevate critical messages, ensuring that controllers receive them promptly.

Another significant project involves the military’s exploration of an AI alternative to GPS satellite-dependent navigation. In a future conflict, high-value GPS satellites may become targets of attacks or interference. The loss of GPS could have severe consequences, including the disruption of communication, navigation, and banking systems, as well as impairing the coordination of the US military’s aircraft and warships. To address this vulnerability, the Air Force conducted a test flight last year with an AI program loaded onto a laptop.

The Importance of Ethical Considerations and Regulation

As AI continues to evolve and become more integrated into military systems, it is crucial to address the ethical considerations and establish appropriate regulations. The potential for AI to make autonomous decisions raises concerns about accountability and the potential for unintended consequences.

Regulations and international agreements must be established to ensure that AI technologies are used responsibly and in accordance with international laws and norms. Additionally, transparency in AI decision-making processes is essential to maintain public trust and confidence.

Furthermore, international collaboration is vital to address common challenges and establish guidelines for the development and deployment of AI in the military. Engaging with international partners can help foster a shared understanding of the risks and benefits associated with AI, ultimately leading to a more secure and stable global environment.


The utilization of AI in the military represents a significant technological leap forward. From its roots in machine learning and autonomy to the development of advanced AI systems, the military is at the forefront of AI innovation. However, as AI becomes increasingly integrated into military operations, it is crucial to ensure that its use aligns with ethical principles and adheres to international regulations.

The United States, along with other nations, must navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI in a responsible and transparent manner. By doing so, we can harness the full potential of AI technology while maintaining human control and upholding the values that underpin our societies.

Source: The Manila Times

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