Leidos subsidiary Dynetics has won a $12.3m valued phase 1 of the Air Combat Evolution (ACE) programme, Technical Area 3 (TA3).

The ACE TA3 (Alpha Mosaic) contract was awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Strategic Technology Office (STO).

As an initial challenge scenario, the programme uses aerial dogfighting for implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into high-intensity air conflicts, which increases the soldier’s trust in combat autonomy.

ACE performers work to increase trust in automated, within-visual-range, air-to-air dogfighting.

The scenarios and adversarial capabilities enhance with improvement in algorithms and tactics.

During the 18-month phase 1 award, the company will develop automated dogfighting. It is aimed at enabling operational-level scenarios with a large number of heterogeneous aircraft.

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Improvement in the algorithms and tactics will aid future live, campaign-level experimentation of manned and unmanned vehicles.

Phase 1 of the programme will include research in a simulated environment while phase 2 will advance to a flight environment using unmanned air vehicles; the

Phase 3 of ACE, TA3 will see a realistic, manned-flight environment involving complex human-machine collaboration.

Dynetics chief engineer Kevin Albarado said: “Our entry into Phase 1 of ACE represents years of relevant research within Dynetics and our team members that position us to do great things for our country.

“Our scientists and engineers are eager to continue advancing these state-of-the-art AI applications to help our warfighters defend our nation.”

During development, the technological challenges of the programme will be managed by Soar Technology, InfoSciTex, and Intuitive Research & Technology Corporation (IRTC).