The future of air-to-air combat - USAF Project Venom

By Willie Bodenstein




Photo USAF

The US Air Force plans to eventually develop a fleet of at least 1,000 collaborative combat aircraft (CCA) came a step closer with the announcement that the service's proposed fiscal 2024 budget includes nearly $50 million to start a program called Project Venom.

The proposed CCA's will initially consist of six F16's loaded with autonomous software that will enable them to fly unmanned ahead of other aircraft so its sensors can provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is envisaged that they will carry missiles or other weapons and perform electronic warfare operations.


Photo Senior Airman Zachary Rufus/U.S. Air Force

The service's proposed fiscal 2024 budget includes nearly $50 million to start Project Venom to experiment with and refine autonomous software loaded onto six F-16s.

Project Venom's aim is to establishing a network of drone wingmen that will eventually use their autonomous capabilities to fly alongside the service's future Next-Generation Air Dominance family of fighter systems and F-35A fighters.


Photo USAF

During December 2022 a successful test flight with an unmanned F16, the X-62A, was conducted. The X-62A was flown using artificial intelligence-driven autonomy agents from the AFRL and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).







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