An “experimental F-16” successfully planned and completed an autonomous ground strike recently at Edwards AFB, Calif., according to a Lockheed Martin press release. The Have Raider II project—led by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team, the US Air Force test pilot school at Edwards, and Calspan Corp.—just wrapped up two weeks of testing related to the loyal wingman concept of integrating manned and unmanned capabilities in air battle. In addition to the autonomous strike, the project team demonstrated the ability of the unmanned F-16 to adapt to changing circumstances in the midst of a mission, “automatically managing contingencies for capability failures, route deviations, and loss of communication,” according to the release. The Have Raider team also successfully made use of an Air Force Open Missions System, which allowed “rapid integration of software components developed by multiple providers,” states the release. The most recent test advanced the team’s capabilities after a previous round of experiments, known as Have Raider I, which was focused on “advanced vehicle control,” according to the release.
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.