Japan and the United States have formalized a research partnership to explore the applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The collaboration aims to investigate the integration of AI technologies into UAVs that will operate alongside the next generation of fighter aircraft. This joint endeavor is a significant step towards advancing the capabilities of unmanned systems in future airpower scenarios.
Advancing AI in UAVs
The agreement between Japan and the USA signifies a commitment to advancing the development of AI for unmanned air vehicles. While the brief statement from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency does not delve into specific details, it highlights the joint research effort to harness AI’s potential in the realm of UAVs.
Building on previous commitments
This collaborative pact builds upon a joint statement made in December 2022, in which the United States pledged its support to Japan and “likeminded allies and partners” in the development of next-generation aircraft. The statement specifically mentioned Italy and the United Kingdom as Japan’s partners in the futuristic Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). The GCAP, along with programs such as the US Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and the US Navy’s F/A-XX, envisions the operation of unmanned Collaborative Combat Aircraft alongside future fighter aircraft.
AI-enabled unmanned collaborative combat aircraft
The fighters that will emerge from initiatives like GCAP, NGAD, and F/A-XX are expected to operate alongside unmanned Collaborative Combat Aircraft that leverage AI for high degrees of autonomy. These AI-enabled UAVs are envisioned to play pivotal roles in future air operations, offering advanced capabilities and enhanced interoperability with manned aircraft.
Emphasis on interoperability
US officials have consistently stressed the importance of interoperability among allied nations as they develop future airpower capabilities. Collaborative efforts in AI research and the integration of unmanned systems with manned fighter aircraft align with the broader goal of enhancing coordination and effectiveness in joint air operations.
The research partnership between Japan and the United States to explore AI applications in unmanned air vehicles represents a significant stride in the evolution of airpower capabilities. As AI technologies continue to advance, the integration of AI into UAVs holds great promise for the future of military aviation. This collaboration underscores the commitment of both nations to stay at the forefront of technological innovation and to strengthen their defense capabilities through AI-driven advancements in unmanned aircraft.