The Army has successfully tested its ability to redirect munitions in flight in an experiment over the Mohave Desert involving an unmanned aircraft, smart sensors and artificial intelligence, according to an article on its website.
The experiment was considered a significant achievement, according to Brig. Gen. Walter T. Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, speaking recently at the Association of the U.S. Army's "Hot Topic" forum on aviation. Conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, the trial tested a capability developed by his CFT called A3I, standing for Architecture, Automation, Autonomy and Interfaces.
In the experiment, an operator in the back of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter used an iPad to control a Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft system over China Lake. He fired a GBU-69 small glide munition from the Grey Eagle, making it the first time that type of UAS fired that kind of missile. As the munition approached its target, a system of ground sensors picked up a higher-priority target nearby. Another operator in the Tactical Operations Center was able to quickly take over control of the glide munition and redirect it to the new target, which it ultimately destroyed.
The A3I system of interconnected sensors was developed over a nine-month period by the Future Vertical Lift CFT, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command with input from academia and industry.
The MH-47 helicopter in the experiment was part of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
The overall experiment was designed to penetrate an urban environment pairing manned and unmanned aircraft, smart munitions, sensors and automated processing capabilities.
The experiment was able to demonstrate a "very dynamic and agile tasking of effects," said Brig. Gen. Walter T. Rugen. "It culminated with a very open-system architecture on the Grey Eagle that was demonstrated very effectively."