BAE Systems has received a contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution for air operations planners.

The new Technical Area 2, Plan Gaming and Outcome Analysis contract has been awarded as part of the AFRL’s Fight Tonight programme.

Valued at approximately $17m, the work aims to enhance the air operations planning process, especially in contested environments, to support the mission planners.

Work under this contract will see BAE Systems introduce AI-based technology into an interactive game environment and provide new tools to the US Air Force’s mission planners to expedite the planning process of complex air combat missions.

The associated work will be carried out by BAE Systems’ research and development organisation FAST Labs in collaboration with other sub-contractors, including Uncharted Software and Kestrel Institute.

According to the company, the new solution will address the issue of long manual planning cycles by providing a new interactive user interface.

This will allow planners to quickly explore/review and access all relevant plans for finalising the most suitable one for a particular mission.

The entire process will further be improved by various new tools, enabling planners to avail comparatively more plans than is currently possible.

BAE Systems FAST Labs technical director Mike Miller said: “This technology is about using AI to provide commanders with more options faster and with more details to ensure the most robust plan is selected.

“The drag-and-drop video game-like interactions would reduce the time it takes to make a series of incremental adjustments to a plan from hours to minutes.”

In 2018, BAE Systems was selected by US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to build autonomy modelling software for military planners.