The military-industrial complex strikes again, as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) dropped a new Black Hawk helicopter that can fly with no one inside it.
The eerie aircraft is equipped with a new AI from Lockheed Martin dubbed the “Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System,” according to a DARPA press release. It allowed the chopper to fly itself for 30 minutes during a test flight on February 5, 2022
Intriguingly, the system is designed to be easily fitted into “existing manned aircraft.” Plug and play — except it’s a killer robot potentially armed with deadly weapons.
Sitting on the runway in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, one of Sikorsky’s pilots in an S-70™ BLACK HAWK® helicopter flips the optionally piloted cockpit switch from two to zero, exits the aircraft and walks across the runway. Moments later, the Model A BLACK HAWK aircraft, identifiable by DARPA’s logo and tail number N60-OPV, completes a pre-flight check list, starts its engines, spins up its rotors and takes off with no crew onboard. All of it happens fully autonomously.
The new flying killbot was ostensibly created to give the Army “operational flexibility,” Stuart Young, program manager at DARPA, said in the release. This means pilots can focus on other priorities during missions rather than flying a whole helicopter.
Young added that it also gives the military the “ability to operate aircraft at all times of the day or night, with and without pilots, and in a variety of difficult conditions, such as contested, congested, and degraded visual environments.”
If that sounds ominous, you’re not wrong. The world’s nations are always trying to find ways to get a military edge on each other. Hunter-Killer aircraft a la “Terminator” were really just inevitable.
The Army is currently exploring potential use cases for technologies such as ALIAS, including those outlined in the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.
Within the next month, the ALIAS program plans to conduct the first flight of a fly-by-wire M-model Black Hawk at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Source: Futurism, DARPA-image