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Kratos and Shield AI conduct AI-piloted flights on the Kratos Tactical Firejet

San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc.  and Shield AI, Inc have announced the successful completion of the first phase of Shield’s AI-piloted flight-testing on-board the Kratos family of UAS as the two companies move toward productizing Shield AI’s pilot on these systems.

Having successfully flown AI pilots on five aircraft — three classes of quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16 – in fully autonomous air combat training, Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot has now successfully flown on and controlled the Kratos Tactical Firejet. These successful flights are a major milestone in the comprehensive integration project as Shield AI and Kratos look to ultimately productize another configuration of the Valkyrie, in this case with Shield AI’s Hivemind AI pilot.

“Our substantial investments in autonomy and AI design tools, infrastructure, and pipelines are what enable Shield AI to rapidly integrate Hivemind onto different classes of aircraft and, most importantly, fly them safely,” said Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s CEO and Co-Founder.

“We’re getting faster and faster. It was over three years from signing the contract to flying the F-16; now, it’s less than 180 days for the Kratos Firejet. The vision of portable autonomy software for military hardware has been realized, flown, and deployed by Shield AI.

The Firejet, in its jet target system role, meets a variety of end-to-end weapons-release training needs, supporting surface-to-air and air-to-air engagements. Additionally, the Tactical Firejet offers an offensive/defensive jet UAS system in the sub-US$500,000 ($756,000) price range per aircraft with substantial mission systems and performance capabilities. In either mission configuration (target/tactical), the Firejet delivers a high-speed, high-manoeuvrability, low-signature solution for replicating threats or enabling no-risk-to-Warfighter-life operational effectiveness with a level of contested environment capability, the company says.

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