On March 2, an experimental unmanned combat aircraft created by Boeing Australia, the Australian branch of the American concern, took off from an Australian airfield for the first time as part of the Australian Loyal Wingman program – Loyal Wingman.
The purpose of the Loyal Wingman apparatus is clear from the name. This is a wingman – a combat aircraft paired with another manned aircraft. Such a task is no longer feasible if you use remote control, as is done with other serial UAVs. Such a machine already requires its own, if I may say, “intelligence” – artificial intelligence (AI).
Russia is still ahead of Boeing in at least some parameters, and with a high probability in all. Currently, our country is developing an unmanned fighter “Hunter”. And it has been flying for a long time. Unlike the Australian Slave, our Hunter is a much more ambitious project.
This is a machine that is supposed to work like a fox in a chicken coop. Rapidly break into enemy airspace, using its stealth in the radar range, take the desired area and height, and from there give fighters with live pilots working from a distance, from a safe distance, information about targets in the air and let them attack them from outside the coverage area of their airborne radar stations (radar). At the same time, the “Hunter” itself must also be able to fight – if enemy fighters attack him, then he must enter into battle with them and destroy them with his missiles, without calling anyone for help. Optionally, the machine can “work” on the ground, and be used as a simple remotely controlled drone.
This approach can bring a lot of benefits, but it requires a truly perfect AI, much more advanced than just the “follower”. Russian programmers have a reputation as one of the best in the world, but electronics are also needed, and here everything is much worse than that of the West. Thus, the Russian creators of software for the “Okhotnik” have to solve a much more difficult task, having, apparently, less advanced avionics than the “Boeing”. This means that the Australians can theoretically try to get ahead of us, because their task is much simpler.
If the “machine mind” of the “Hunter” is not ready on time, by the time when the Ministry of Defense promised to start its production, then it is necessary to start making it with a simplified “intelligence”. Let it be just a follower and no more – then, as the algorithms improve, this machine will also be able to evolve, slowly but surely turning into a fully autonomous combat robot. The rapid development of the Loyal Wing program suggests that our adversary is closing the gap in the creation of this kind of UAV with Russia and it will not be easy to keep it.
Russia is obliged to put these combat vehicles into production at any cost within the previously announced terms, even with simplified software. This is the most important point. Choosing between “to produce a machine that is not completely ready in terms of intelligence” and “first to complete everything as intended, then to launch it in a series” – one must choose the first option. And prepare an abbreviated version of the software for this circuit. Then, when this technique goes into series production in the West, the factor of production capacity will start to affect, and with it, everything is not as good with us as in the West. The West is far ahead in its ability to mass-produce aircraft.
This is all the more possible because the “Hunter” has already been tested as our “slave”. The Su-57 working with this machine even had a symbolic drawing of them flying in a pair of a manned and unmanned fighter. In conditions when the presence of living pilots may lose its former importance, it is very important for us not to be left behind. And for this it is necessary not to lag behind, not to lose the advantage that Russia has now.CNBC: Russian Sputnik V is a pretext for a potential split within the EU